Residential property landlords have a lot to manage on a day-to-day basis without having to worry about legal challenges. There are numerous common mistakes landlords make that can lead to disputes with residents, but the good news is that many of them are avoidable by taking the proper steps ahead of time.
Below are some of the most common pitfalls of residential landlords and how you can avoid them when it comes to your residential real estate investment:
- Mishandled security deposits: Landlords should create itemized statements of deductions on all security deposits and place the initial deposit in a proper account. To ensure compliance with provincial and federal regulations, deposit these funds into a property management account so that if you need to make damage repairs after a tenant moves out, the balance of the deposit is directly returned to the tenant.
- Handling evictions: Before evicting a tenant, review provincial laws related to evictions. Most times, the first step will involve giving the tenant a written notice. After that, make sure you follow the legal eviction process closely, as it will help protect you from having to pay damages for not having a court order. It's also wise to acquire information on any of your tenants' prior evictions and retain it for your own records.
- Living conditions: It is the responsibility of the landlord to disclose and take reasonable measures to maintain a safe and clean living environment for tenants. Always disclose important information about the property, including mold, sex offenders who live in the area and if any deaths occurred in the unit. It is equally important to regularly check for hazardous conditions that could harm a resident's quality of life.
- Discriminating questions: It is important for landlords to remember that Canadian and provincial laws make it illegal for a landlord to refuse to rent to someone based on race, religion, gender or disability. Landlords may screen tenants based on factors like credit and reference checks, but asking questions such as marital status or the severity of a disability is not allowed.
- Privacy: If you ever need to enter tenants' properties, you need to give them 24 hours notice, unless an emergency occurs. Tenants have rights to privacy, and landlords should only enter a unit after giving proper notice to perform maintenance or repairs, inspect the unit or show the property to a potential new resident.
Above all, landlords can help prevent tough legal issues by making sure they are informed and proactive about what is happening at their properties. Know and remain updated on the condition of your units and any changing federal or provincial laws associated with residential rental properties. This can help you avoid costly and time-consuming litigation that often come with landlord-tenant disputes.