Landlord Notices And Best Practices For Writing Each One
Being a landlord is an excellent way to provide an income for your family as well as create value for your community. While there are many positives to renting your property, there are a few unfortunate ones, too. Being a landlord means you also need to have a strong knowledge of landlord-tenant laws and the notices that are required for each. You'll want to make sure you provide the correct notices at the right times and know how to avoid common mistakes. Fortunately, your state and county often have templates to get you started on these notices. Read on to learn more about common landlord notices and some best practices for accurately completing each one.
Please keep in mind — traditional laws may be suspended in times of crisis such as during the current Coronavirus pandemic. Make sure you check with your state and county for the latest updates in your area.
Landlords must provide tenants with disclosure notices on potentially harmful situations or substances that the tenant may encounter. Common disclosures include notices of lead, methamphetamine use and toxic mold. Fortunately, these landlord notices are available online and already set up to help you inform future tenants about the presence, or lack of, these toxic substances. In addition, there are specific pamphlets available for distribution if your building was built before 1978.
Other disclosures typically involve the details of entering into a rental contract such as how the deposit works, cleaning fees and the presence of existing damages. You can think of this as the information you’ll provide a tenant about whether the home is habitable, what they may be held liable for and any potential fixes you can see on the horizon. When filling out these types of forms, remember that it’s the landlord's responsibility to warn about any hidden dangers on the property.
Finally, there may be local ordinances requiring disclosures about rent control. This is a form that will vary on a case-by-case basis and is best reviewed on a local level. Check with your city and county offices to see if rent control disclosures apply to you.
Privacy and Maintenance
You’ll want to be upfront with your tenants about the policies surrounding the rights of privacy and property maintenance. These terms should be detailed in your lease, but you'll also be required to give tenants individual notice about planned or emergent maintenance needs. Typically, a landlord should provide 24 hours notice before entering a property. Clearly, in the case of a burst pipe or fire, you’ll need to enter immediately. High-level emergencies are not considered privacy violations — the livability of the property should come first.
Major repairs should be addressed as soon as possible with notice that a landlord or maintenance person is going to enter. Less urgent repairs should be communicated to a tenant via a written notice, phone call or both. You'll want to follow your specific state laws on this as the notice requirements will vary. Typically, the wording on repair notices will be simple. Make sure you include time, date and type of repair.
No landlord wants to evict tenants, but sometimes there isn’t another solution. If you decide to evict a tenant, there are specific legal notices you must follow. There may also be a case where you need a tenant to move out, even though they’ve done nothing wrong. This could be to run a property or estate sale. All of these situations require specific legal notices.
If your priority is to have the tenant pay owed rent, you’ll want to implement a "Pay or Quit" notice or a "Cure or Quit" notice. These will provide an opportunity for the tenant to pay back rent and avoid eviction. If the tenant does not pay rent in the allotted time, this will begin the legal process of terminating the tenancy and starting the eviction process. If back rent is not a concern and the tenant simply needs to go due to damage or hazard, you’ll want to issue an "Unconditional Quit" notice instead. These landlord notices get trickier if you are terminating a tenant residency without a tenant violation. These are typically seen as 30 to 60-day notices to vacate by a landlord, and the process will vary significantly in a rent-controlled area.
It’s always best to consult legal counsel before "taking matters into your own hands." Tenant and landlord notices have long legal precedents. You'll want to check with the experts if you have trouble at any time.
The information contained in this article does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal or financial advice. Readers are encouraged to seek professional financial or legal advice as they may deem it necessary.