Q: I recently moved my 85-year-old father from his home because he wasn't able to keep it up. It's still his home, and he won't consider selling, so rather than leave it empty, I had some repairs done and rented it out.
Though I currently have seemingly good tenants, I've been told horror stories about renting. Could you advise me whom to contact regarding landlord rights? I would like some direction without having to pay a lawyer.
A: Tenancy laws and landlord rights, as well as the procedures relating to them, vary from state to state. Unfortunately, should the need arise, you will most likely need to contact a lawyer specializing in landlord-tenancy laws.
At the least, I strongly recommend that you get a credit report on your existing (or potential) tenants to see how responsible they have been in the past. Secondly, I suggest you ask them for the name and phone number of their previous two landlords and then call to confirm whether or not they were good tenants.
A lease should cover most questions having to do with the responsibilities of both parties. Most office-supply stores, real-estate agents and even public libraries have sample or blank leases.
However, since most states' laws favor tenants' rights, I'd recommend you have a competent real-estate attorney review the lease you choose to ensure that you, as the landlord, have as much protection as possible.