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Houston Property Management Tips

December 2011: Are You a Knowledgeable Landlord?

How would you rate yourself as a knowledgeable landlord? We thought we would put together a list of questions that landlords should know. It is and always will be, our policy to keep you intelligently informed on the business of owning investment property. That is the primary reason for this newsletter service. 

We hope this will review or increase your knowledge of landlord/tenant law - good luck on your answers!

  1. Can a landlord refuse to rent to a tenant with pets?
    Yes, you can refuse to rent to a tenant if they have a pet as long as there is no discrimination involved.
  2. Can an assistance animal be refused and can you charge a deposit for this animal?
    No, you cannot refuse a tenant with an assistance animal and you cannot charge a "pet deposit" - this is discrimination per Fair Housing Law.
  3. What important document is needed if a residential property was built before January 1, 1978?
    A lead-based paint agreement is needed for a residential property, units 1-4, built before January 1, 1978.
  4. Can an owner give a notice to vacate to a tenant on a lease?
    Yes, you can give a notice to vacate to a tenant on a lease as long as the date to vacate is beyond the end of the lease, even if it is only one day. However, you cannot just give a notice and expect them to move out before the end of the lease.
  5. Can a landlord refuse to rent a property to people with children?
    You cannot refuse to rent to persons with children unless it qualified for a seniors or over 55 status. Otherwise, it is considered discrimination.
  6. What important act is the basis for much of the landlord/tenant settlements and legislation?
    The basis for many landlord/tenant settlements or legislation is the URLTA, the Uniform Residential Landlord Tenant Act.
  7. True or false - a definition of habitability in rental housing is anything that endangers the livability of the property and the health and welfare of the tenants.
    This is True.
  8. True or false - unsafe electrical in a rental unit is a good example of violating habitability.
    This is True.
  9. True or false - a property owner can enter his rental property at any time without the permission of the tenant.
    False - the tenant has the right of privacy and most states have very specific laws on the right to enter. It is also common courtesy to notify a tenant because it is his or her residence.
  10. True or false - it is a good policy to require a tenant to do all maintenance.
    False - it is not a good policy to require tenants to do all maintenance for many reasons and particularly when it comes to issues of habitability.
  11. True or false - it is a good policy to carry the minimum insurance on an investment property.
    Generally, this is false because it is worth carrying a good "landlord policy" that covers more than a standard fire and liability. Many good landlord policies cover vacancy losses under certain conditions, vandalism, and more.
  12. True or false - turning down an applicant due to poor credit is considered discrimination.
    Definitely false - a landlord can require good credit as one of the criteria for renting and it is required of all applicants.

So, how did you fare? We hope this questionnaire helped you. Understanding landlord/tenant laws and good practices is the best protection a landlord has other than hiring a professional property management company. We will continue to work on keeing you informed and knowledgable.