Renter Laws

What’s Legal? Landlord and Tenant Laws

When it comes to renting out your property, there is a lot to do before you ever find your first tenants. Before you set out a “For Rent” sign, you will need to prepare your house and prepare yourself. One of the things that you need to do before you rent out your property is learn about the landlord and tenant laws in your area. These laws vary by state, and you will need to look up the laws that are specific to your area. However, there are some general things that apply in most situations.

Collecting Rent

One of the basic agreements between tenants and landlords is the landlords’ right to collect rent. The landlord has the right to set rent and collect it. Typically, rent is collected on a monthly basis. However, a landlord can define different terms such as biweekly rent. Your tenant might ask for a different arrangement, such as paying for a few months of rent up front. If you make an agreement with your tenants, make sure to get it in writing. On the other side, the tenant is obligated to pay the rent on time.

In general, the tenants are obligated to care for the house, and the landlord is obligated to ensure that the house is in a suitable condition. For example, the house needs to be safe and secure, and the landlord needs to make general repairs. This does not necessarily apply to damages caused by the tenant.

Entering the Property

As the owner of the property you have the right to enter the house even when there are tenants in it. Generally, you have to give the tenants at least 24 hours notice before you enter the property. In an emergency situation the landlord can typically enter the property without prior notice. For example, a pipe bursts and the landlord needs to enter the property to turn off the water. You should check your own local laws to determine if you have to give notice before entering the property and how much notice you have to give.

Unlawful Discrimination

As a landlord you cannot discriminate against prospective tenants. For example, you cannot discriminate based on race, religion, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, etc. This type of discrimination is specifically outlawed by the Fair Housing Act. Basically, if you have any personal bias for any reason, you cannot let that interfere with renting out your property.

When it comes to renting out your property, you will have a lot to do. You have to find a house, make sure it is fixed up, find a tenant, and make an agreement. In this process you need to make sure that you are following the local landlord and tenant laws. In the end, whatever agreement you come to with your tenant, you will want to make sure to get it in writing.


At this point, you might be asking: Do you have what it takes to be a landlord?