As a landlord, one of your main responsibilities is to ensure complete compliance with applicable laws. The reality, however, is that not all landlords are aware of what these laws are. Unfortunately, this can lead to legal problems, and put tenants in a tight situation that may discourage them from renewing their leases.
If you’re renting out your Florida property, it is non-negotiable to be aware of certain practices that are banned by law. Failure to abide by these laws will put you in trouble, and potentially jeopardize your rental business.
6 illegal property management practices to avoid at all costs
You’ve put a lot of time and money into your investment property. Don’t let it all go to waste by failing to follow the law. To make sure your operations run smoothly, take note of these six property management practices you’re not allowed to do.
1. Retaliating against a tenant
When tenants voice their dissatisfaction or file a complaint, it’s crucial to respond in a non-retaliatory manner. Don’t take it badly by trying to take revenge on them, whether by refusing to tackle repairs, driving by the property to intimidate them, etc. These acts may be deemed discriminatory by local authorities. Regardless of whether the tenant’s grievances are valid or not, always go through the formal process and gain guidance from property managers. Don’t try to take matters into your own hands—trust us, it will get messy.
2. Raising the rent suddenly
It’s understandable that you’d want to raise your rent. You may be facing financial difficulties, or simply feel like your rent is too low. And while you do have the right to raise the rent, you can’t do it whenever you want to. In other words, you can’t increase the rent in the middle of the lease period.
For whatever reason you decide to raise the rent, it’s crucial to follow what’s written in your tenancy contract. In most cases, the rent can only be changed when someone is about to begin a new lease, or when a current lease is up for renewal.
3. Evicting tenants to sell the rental property
Renting out your property to tenants doesn’t strip you of the right to sell it. But when considering a sale, you should also protect your tenants’ rights and assure them that they won’t be displaced.
In this circumstance, there are many routes you can take. For example, you and the buyer may agree to allow the tenants to stay on the property until their contract expires. This will provide them with ample time to look for a new place. Alternatively, if you own another rental property, you may ask your tenants if they want to move into that. That way, your tenants can continue their tenancy with you, avoiding upheaval.
4. Increasing the rent too much
While not all places have put a ceiling on rental increases, most of them have. If your property is in a rent-controlled area, you won’t be able to raise your rent more than the allowed amount. For example, if your city allows only a 15% rent increase, it’s crucial to refrain from raising the rent by 16% or more to avoid legal repercussions.
If you’re unsure whether your city has restrictions on rent increases, you may want to consult a luxury property management company. With their expertise, you can ensure you set a competitive rental rate while complying with local laws.
5. Entering the property without proper notice
On paper, the property may be yours, but that does not give you the right to enter when it’s occupied by tenants. The moment they move in, you must be respectful of their privacy and abide by proper protocol.
If you intend to enter the premises, you must inform your tenants at least 24 hours prior to your visit. Clearly communicate your purpose, whether it’s to conduct inspections, carry out repairs, or show the property to prospective renters. Be specific about the time as most tenants prefer to be around for these occasions. It’s also important to note that in many areas, you may only enter the property from Monday to Friday, between 9 AM and 5 PM.
6. Taking too long to conduct essential repairs
Issues such as a loose doorknob and flickering bulb don’t need to be addressed immediately. They can be a bit bothersome, but they don’t significantly affect your tenant’s day-to-day life. However, repairs that make your tenant’s life less comfortable or put them in danger must be performed ASAP. Examples of this are when your tenant’s HVAC stops working in the hot Florida summer (puts your tenant at risk of heat stroke), or when the water stops running (water is a need).
To ensure that repairs of this nature are tackled promptly, it pays to partner with a luxury property management company with a local presence. They’ll have connections with various contractors, plumbers, electricians, and more, allowing them to complete repairs within a specific time frame.
Not sure if a particular practice is legal?
If you have doubts about whether or not a particular practice is legal, the wise course of action would be to consult with the pros. By working with a professional management company, you can avoid getting into legal trouble and protect your investment for years to come. A professional property management company will have the experience and expertise to manage your property in a way that complies with all relevant laws.
The bottom line
A lack of law knowledge may cause you to perform the illegal practices we have mentioned. This will cost you not only financially, but also by putting you out of business.
By partnering with a luxury property management firm, you can run your rental expertly and steer clear of these pitfalls. When you work with Luxury Property Care, our experts will provide you with in-depth education on relevant laws. Not only that, but we’ll also provide hands-on help with your day-to-day responsibilities. In that way, you will be able to protect yourself from legal liability and make sure your property is managed in a responsible manner.