Featured News 2013 Choosing the Right Tenants to Avoid Lawsuits

Choosing the Right Tenants to Avoid Lawsuits

If you are a landlord and you are choosing tenants to rent your property out to, you will want to cautiously choose these individuals. If you just take the first people that come along and want to rent your property, you may later end up in complicated legal matters. Litigious men and women will often stop at nothing to get compensation if they believe that they have been wronged in any way.

This is why you should follow some specific guidelines as you choose your tenants in hope of having a peaceful relationship with them. You will need to be careful not to violate the federal and state antidiscrimination laws as you choose your tenants. If you deny a potential tenant due to race, state of the family, or sexual orientation, this is considered a violation of the Fair Housing Act and you can be sued or prosecuted for engaging in this illegal activity.

Still, it is not wrong to evaluate tenants carefully, as long as you are doing this for the right reasons. For example, it is very wise to check a tenant’s credit score, income, and follow up with references. You can run a credit check on a potential tenant online for a minimal fee, and call any former landlords who have been associated with the potential tenants who have applied. You should also verify an applicant’s employment and income, and you may want to secure bank account information. Be consistent as you screen through possible tenants. This way, no tenants can claim that you discriminatory because required more background on them then on other applicants.

In addition to this screening process, you will want to make sure to make your decisions based on business reasons. You are legally free to choose among tenants as long as your decisions are based on business criteria rather than personal preferences. You have every right to reject a tenant with a bad credit history or to deny a person who does not have an income that is sufficient to pay the rent or a past behavior that makes his or her responsibility questionable. If you talk to a person’s former landlord and discover that that individual was always late on the rent or left the home with property damage, then you can deny that person because this is a business preference.

Whenever you are choosing a tenant, you will want to keep the Fair Housing Act rules in mind. Fair housing laws clarify what are the illegal reasons to deny a person tenancy. If you turn away a tenant because of his or her gender, national origin, race, physical or mental disability, familial states, or age, then this can be considered illegal and you can be sued. Also, if you turn away a tenant because of marital status, sexual orientation, or cognitive disability this is also illegal. A real estate attorney may be able to help you work through all of these situations and carefully choose whether or not to accept a tenant based on the information at hand.

You should also train any staff at your rentals to know the rules and avoid any sort of discriminatory behavior or sexual harassment. The key to choosing a tenant wisely is to be consistent in your inspections and treat all tenants equally. This way, the tenant will not have any reason to believe that you are being discriminatory and cannot file a lawsuit against you. Hire a real estate attorney today to help you was you screen tenants and to safeguard you from lawsuits that might arise.

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