Yesterday's post addressed the importance of properly screening potential tenants and having a knowledgeable attorney review the lease you intend on using. Here are two more important things to consider if you are planning on renting residential property.
3. Familiarize yourself with the basic rights and limitations of a landlord. In Alabama, these can be found under the Alabama Code. There are things you can do, things you can’t do, and certain timeframes that must be abided by in nearly everything you do. Different types of tenant breaches call for very differnt procedures. Certain situations allow for the landlord to enter the property and certain situations don't. An attorney can really help you stay out of the mud here.
4. No matter how much work you do at the front end, occasionally you get a tenant that needs to go. Maybe they won't pay their rent, or they commit a crime on your property, or they just insist on breaching every lease provision known to mankind. In that instance, don’t waste your time trying to evict the tenant without an attorney. It never fails that when I am in court on an eviction, there will be another case on the docket where a landlord tried to go it alone. It usually ends with the Judge dismissing the landlord's case because of some legal technicality - and the tenant gets to remain in the property. After having already spent hundreds on court fees, and weeks or months trying to get to court, the landlord has to start all over and pay an attorney anyways. A four or five week process can turn into a four or five month process, costing thousands in lost rental income.
Being a landlord can be almost like playing Russian roulette. But there are things a wise landlord can do to give himself or herself the best chance possible of having a good experience, and hopefully making some money while at it. Unlike most things in life, common sense will not necessarily lead a landlord to the proper conclusions about how to handle a situation. Having a knowledgeable attorney assist you along the way can help you save time, money, and lots of frustration.