A well thought-out and thorough lease agreement is one of the first lines of defense when it comes to tenant-landlord laws. A lease agreement should clearly state the names of the parties involved in the renting of the property, as well as outline all of the rules and expectations of the landlord or professional property management in Orlando company. A lease agreement serves as a protection for both the tenant and landlord in the event of a dispute, failure to comply with the lease agreement rules, or termination of a lease. Landlords must be well versed in all housing laws, codes, and ethics in order to avoid costly legal mistakes and pitfalls. The last thing an investment owner wants or can afford, is to have all of her profit from the investment property taken away due to a lawsuit that could have been prevented. Allow the experts at Specialized Property Management Orlando to remind landlords of prominent and obscure housing laws and codes to keep you out of the courtroom.
Fair Housing Act
Perhaps the most well-known law in the property management industry is the Fair Housing Act of 1968. The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development states that a landlord cannot discriminate against protected classes of people as they are shopping for rental housing, to purchase a house or a mortgage. Protected classes of people are those who cannot be discriminated against due to their race, color, national origin, sexual orientation, familial status, religion, or disability by professional property management in Orlando or private landlords. Discrimination against these protected classes of people includes examples of landlords or property managers choosing not to rent to them, setting different rules or conditions for certain people, providing different people different services or amenities, the willingness or unwillingness to negotiate prices and rates, evictions, failure to provide maintenance or repairs, harassment in any way, or the assignment of a person to a particular building or neighborhood based on these protected classes or people. It should be known that while these protected classes of people cannot and should not be discriminated against, Orlando rental management can deny people housing who smoke cigarettes and apply to live at a non-smoking property. Smokers are not a protected class of people, and they would not be considered a protected class if they would be in breach of the lease agreement rules. There is also something known as age discrimination, and though it is not specifically listed under the Fair Housing Act, it is also forbidden under the more broadened law to discriminate based on familial status.
Americans with Disability Act of 1990
The Americans with Disability Act is a Civil Rights Law that states a person cannot be discriminated against by professional property management in Orlando in housing, public transportation, jobs, schools, and all other places that are public or private and open to the general public. This law is designed to allow every person the same opportunities for success in this life. There are many circumstances that fall under the broad umbrella of disabilities. There are mental, physical, and circumstantial disabilities. The ADA gives protection similar to those protected groups of people listed under the Fair Housing Act. Landlords and property management companies must keep this law at the forefront of their minds when receiving Applications to Rent or a Reasonable Accommodation Request. If a property is classified as a pet free property, but a prospective applicant documents that she has a service animal, she cannot be turned away from the rental property due to her having a service animal. A service animal is not a pet. Landlords and professional property management in Orlando companies also cannot inquire as to why she has or needs a service animal or ask about her disability. That is considered discrimination under the ADA. They can, however, under the law, confirm with the medical professional who suggested or prescribed she get a service animal, that the animal is needed for her to function with her disability or that it is for her general well-being. Doing so is not discrimination. If a tenant is visibly physically handicapped, a landlord or property manager is not allowed to ask about the disability. A landlord is required under the ADA to make reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities if it does not cause too much difficulty or too costly of an expense.
Professional Property Management in Orlando Companies Adhere to Habitability Laws
The Implied Warranty of Habitability Laws states that an Orlando rental management company or landlord must provide a safe and habitable living space for humans before and during the tenancy. Some of the most common violations include failure to provide safe and clean drinking water to tenants, heat during the winter, working electricity, a functioning smoke detector, a working bathroom and toilet, sanitary conditions that leave the premises without pests or infestations of any kind, and violations of building codes. It should be stated in the lease agreement that tenants have an obligation to notify property management and landlords of any maintenance needed on the property. Failure to report needed maintenance is a violation of the lease agreement as it is unhealthy and unsafe for tenants, and causes more damage to the property the longer the problem goes unreported. Landlords should make quick and efficient plans to make repairs to the property. Generally, a repair should not take more than 30 days, and oftentimes should be completed much faster. If a landlord refuses or fails to make the needed repairs, a tenant has the following options:
- Terminate Lease: The tenant may move out and therefore terminate the lease agreement with the professional property management in Orlando company or landlord.
- Repair On His Own: A tenant may make the needed repairs or hire someone to do it, then deduct the amount from the next month’s rent. If utilizing this option, the repairs cannot cost more than one month’s rent.
- Sue the Landlord: A tenant may choose to sue the landlord or property management company for the damages starting from the time that it became known to the landlord. The damages would be considered the difference between the value of the property in its current, uninhabitable condition versus the value of the property in its habitable condition.
- Seek Legal Assistance: A tenant should seek local legal help before taking the matter to court. Local legal counsel will be able to educate the tenant on the most effective way to resolve the issue.
As mentioned above, failure to comply with laws like the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act is a violation of the law. It is a violation that can cost landlords thousands of dollars. Professional property management in Orlando companies and landlords should be aware that there are companies that hire secret shoppers who hide their real identity to the property manager or landlord and pretend to apartment or house shop. Secret shoppers will appear to be normal prospective applicants interested in the house for rent, but they will really be looking to see that you are upholding all aspects of Fair Housing Laws and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Secret Shoppers have the goal to make certain that all people are being treated fairly and with equally polite customer service. If you are a landlord or property manager, please remember to always treat every applicant, tenant, and prospective applicant equally. You never know if it is a secret shopper or a legitimate prospective tenant.
Notice of Entry and Quiet Enjoyment
Once a tenant moves into a property, they have the right to be notified if a landlord needs to enter the premises for any reason, as well as have the right to quiet enjoyment. If a landlord needs to enter for any reason, Orlando law states that the tenant must have a minimum of 12 hours advance notice. Professional property management in Orlando companies prefer to give 48 hours notice if the reason for the entry permits. Landlords have the right to enter the property for move out inspections, to make repairs, make alterations or improvements, delivering large packages, show the apartment to a prospective renter or buyer, under court orders, suspicion that the premises has been abandoned, if tenants have violated health or safety codes, or to issue evictions or eject a tenant. Quiet enjoyment means that if a tenant is complaining about a noisy neighbor causing a nuisance to his general well-being, a landlord must take action to correct the problem. Property management companies often have Quiet Hour clauses in lease agreements that outline when neighbors must turn noise levels down. An appropriate time frame for Quiet Hours would be 10:00pm – 8:00am.
How Specialized Property Management Orlando Can You Protect Tenant’s Rights
In a world where everyone is sue-happy, do not risk the profits from your investment property to a lawsuit for failure to comply with the tenant’s rights of law. It just takes one mistake, one bit of misinformation, or one law that you did not know existed to land you in hot water. Protect yourself, your investment, and your financial wealth by contacting the company with the most professional property management in Orlando, Specialized Property Management Orlando today by calling (407) 682-3355.