Being an entrepreneur is a great opportunity afforded by what is commonly known as the “American dream.” The moment you become a property owner — no matter what kind of property — you’ve instantly upped your potential for entrepreneurship. Even if you buy a property with the intent of living in or on it, you’re only one bold decision away from being a business owner.
Owning and renting property is arguably the most popular business venture to enter into in America. While it may not require as much expertise or know-how as other fields, it is still not something to be undertaken haphazardly. Continue reading to see what you need to know to keep yourself clear of legal issues as a landlord in the Keystone State.
1. Leasing laws
The most fundamental laws that you need to become acclimated with as a landlord are the laws regarding leasing. It is important to note that you cannot demand an amount greater than two months of rent up front in the first year of the lease. At the end of the lease, you must return the deposit in full or in part unless you use it to cover unpaid rent or damages.
Also, you must notify your tenants in an adequate amount of time if you decide not to renew their lease or evict them for failure to pay rent. In the case of an eviction, you must notify your tenants at least 10 days ahead of time.
2. Laws Regarding Rent
Another Pennsylvania law that protects the rights of tenants is that you can’t raise the rent during the term of the lease unless your agreement states such. At the end of the lease or if your tenants are on a month-to-month agreement, you can raise the rent.
3. You Must Be an Equal-Opportunity Lessor
America is the most diverse country in the world, and Pennsylvania is a great example of this country’s diversity. While this great nation has a complicated past in terms of how it once treated people who are considered different, the country has taken leaps and bounds in the right direction.
In decades past, landowners used superficial criteria to decide which tenants were suitable for their property. While those problems are much less prevalent today than in yesteryear, the federal government has enacted laws to ensure that it stays that way.
As a landlord, you can disqualify prospective tenants based on their credit, criminal background, or ability to pay. However, you cannot use race, religion, or sexuality as deciding factors. You can find free property management software available — like that provided by Turbo Tenant — that can help you screen and choose the right applicants.
4. Your Tenants Have a Right to a Safe Dwelling
If only for the purpose of maintaining your good reputation, you want to distinguish yourself as a landlord above the shadiness of slumlords. Providing your tenants with decent housing is a great way to become recommended in your city as a landlord worth renting from.
Also, you need to be acquainted with “The Implied Warranty of Habitability.” This is a Pennsylvania law aimed at ensuring that all state renters have a safe and up-to-par dwelling to reside in.
As a landlord, you need to follow the law to handle serious repairs that directly affect your tenants’ quality of life. These repairs include dangerous electrical wiring, serious leaks, and insufficient plumbing. Before leasing your property, it would be wise to hire an electric contractor in Harrisburg, PA area to make sure that your wiring is up to code.
5. Repair and Deduct
Sometimes, tenants find it necessary to make repairs to the property themselves so that it will be suitable for habitation. If any of the repairs that they make fall under the responsibility of the landlord, you must deduct the cost of those repairs from their rent. In such a case, be sure to require receipts to make sure that you only deduct what they are owed.