It often seems that a property owner does not have any rights and that tenants call the shots, the courts only rule in favor of the tenant, and the attorneys end up with all the money. Just look at the multi-million dollar lawsuits that have happened regarding mold, lead-based paint, Fair Housing, and more. In fact, we do our best to keep you apprised of the legislation and legal actions that are continually happening. However, there is another perspective to landlord and tenant rights.
It is true that there are big lawsuits, severe fines, and penalties dished out in big numbers to property owners but it is generally because they have violated important legislation or discriminated against their occupants. These are the few because there are millions of property owners who do rent fairly and millions of good tenants living in rental properties. Unfortunately, in a not so perfect world, it is the bad property owners and tenants that get (not unlike our political leaders) the big press and attention.
Sometimes, you just have to look at the whole picture to understand that, in fact, a property owner does have rights. The truth is that if owners did not have any rights in this country, there would not be any investments in real property and therefore, no rentals available.
The Uniform Residential Landlord Tenant Act, URLTA, was set up to outline obligations for BOTH landlords and tenants. It specifically provides that tenants uphold certain obligations and responsibilities to the Landlord. Here are some of the provisions for the tenants.
- Tenants must maintain the interior of the leased premises in a clean and safe condition and must use all appliances in a reasonable manner.
- Tenants must not negligently or willfully destroy property or allow others invited onto the premises to do so.
- There is a duty of tenants to use the premises in such a manner as to preserve its condition
- Tenants must conduct themselves in a manner that ensure peaceful enjoyment of neighboring properties
You DO have the right to rent your property to good tenants. There is no law that requires you to rent to someone who does not meet good qualifying criteria. No court will force you to take in a bad tenant. You just have to be patient if it takes a longer vacancy to get through the bad tenancy to get to the good tenant.
You DO have Fair Housing rights. It is true that the court will rule against a property owner in a big way if there is discrimination. It is free to comply with Fair Housing and not only is it free, it is the smart way to conduct any business. Practice Fair Housing correctly and the law will protect you as well as the tenants.
You DO have the right to evict a Tenant for non-payment of rent and other rental violations. It is not right for a tenant to stop paying rent, trash the property, and cause havoc. What if there were no solutions to evict a tenant? That is a truly scary thought. All states have laws that provide owners with a “way out” of a bad tenant through a legal eviction process so that they can replace the bad one with a good one. Tenants cannot hold a property owner hostage unless the owner does something discriminatory or unlawful.
You DO have the right to claim property investment deductions on your taxes. Do not forget that you do have the right to use your rental property to reduce your tax liabilities whenever possible.
There are definitely more landlord rights than listed in this article. You just have to keep your perspective while owning rental property and look at the big picture that both landlords and tenants have rights.
Jean Storms, MPM®, owner of LandlordSource