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Knowledge is power.
It’s not what you don’t know that kills you, it’s what you know for sure that ain’t true.
Owning real property and renting it to third parties can be a very good investment. However, before ever signing that first lease, it is important to be familiar with the landlord-tenant laws in the state where the property is located.
Below is a list of the most common mistakes landlords make. Most of these can be avoided simply by being familiar with your state’s landlord-tenant laws, while others require the investment of an attorney’s services to review the legal documents and processes you intend on using before you begin.
Below are the ten most common errors made by landlords, based on Ohio law:
1. Getting a lease off the internet
Internet leases do not include state-specific clauses, and landlord-tenant laws vary considerably from state to state.
Penalties for violating landlord-tenant laws can be quite hefty and include the award of attorney’s fees to the tenant.
2. Not screening applicants
Credit and background checks provide a snapshot of a prospective tenant’s background and financial situation.
Calling and questioning a prior landlord can yield priceless information.
3. Using self-help
Entering without the tenant’s permission and/or evicting a tenant without a court order are violations of Ohio law.
Depending on the action taken, a landlord can find himself facing criminal charges.
4. Entering without notice
Doing so is a statutory violation and intrudes on the tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment of the property.
Repeated violations can give the tenant the right to terminate the lease.
5. Security deposit
Most state laws require a landlord to return a security deposit within a certain number of days, along with an itemization of any deductions.
This statutory violation can result in an award to the tenant of double the amount of the deposit wrongfully withheld, as well as an award of attorney’s fees.
6. Ohio Revised Code
It is essential to be familiar with the laws of the state of where the property is located and their application beforebecoming a real estate investor.
7. Move-in / Move-out checklist
These checklists are extremely beneficial in the event of disputes about the condition of the property, which often arise at the end of a lease.
If the checklist is signed by the tenant, while not incontrovertible proof of the condition of the property at the commencement of the lease, it is certainly useful for a landlord in the event of dispute.
8. Checking tenant identification
Identity theft is a serious problem.
Always obtain photo identification of prospective tenants and keep a copy. Most mobile phones now have excellent cameras.
Make sure the photo and information on the identification match the applicant.
9. Waiving a lease violation
Waiving late fees or other lease terms is often done to accommodate a tenant.
In order to make sure that doing so does not result in a permanent waiver of the term being waived, all waivers should be accompanied by a letter stating that the accommodation is a one-time event.
10. Being nice
Being a landlord is a business. You can be polite without being overly friendly. You are not and should not be your tenant’s friend and always maintain a business relationship.
The process of evicting a tenant is complicated. If you want to remove the tenant and reclaim your property, you are required to follow the proper eviction procedures. You need to remember that using force to evict a tenant is an illegal process. It may lead to legal complications.
Before discussing the matter of removing a tenant, you need to understand what tenancy refers to. It is a legal contract between the landlord and a tenant. The terms and conditions of this contract allow the tenant to remain in the property of the landlord as long as they pay rent.
The tenancy agreement is the legal document which clears out the terms and conditions of the rent agreement. This agreement should be prepared and signed before the tenants rent property. It is important to have a written agreement as written documents help avoiding future legal problems.
To evict the tenant legally, you need to serve a notice stating your desire to have the property back. In case the tenants ignore the notice and still remain on the property, you are required to wait until the notice period expires.
After this, you need to send another notice which is called the notice of intention to seek possession. This notice is a clear indication that you want to seek Court’s assistance in removing the tenants. The tenant must receive the notice of intention, before you can apply for the possession order.
After you submit the application, the Court will review and consider everything. In case the Court grants the order to you, the tenants will have to leave the property within the given time. If the tenants still refuse to leave the property, you will have to apply for a warrant to the county Court.
In case the Court suspends the order, the tenants can remain on the property until the time they meet the conditions set by the Court.
According to the UK tenancy law, to remove the assured tenants from the property, you are required to apply for the grounds for possessions. You are required to establish valid reasons for requiring the property.
Removing squatters also involves a legal process. Squatters are the unauthorised occupants of the property. They do not have any legal documents which authorise them to remain in the property. They move in the abandoned property without even notifying the owners.
However, this does not permit you to use force against the squatters. You are required to follow the legal processes and wait for the Court’s decision to grant you possession order.
If you’re in the midst of making an offer on a home, you’re likely going to be having the property in question inspected by a professional home inspector. It’s recommended that you do some thorough research before hiring an inspector. Check their references and ensure that they’re registered with a recognized association. And, before you head into a state of shock and dismay upon reading the final inspection, here are the most common violations and defects an inspector might find. Older buildings may well have some of these issues, and while some are less worrisome than others, you’ll want to be prepared to estimate costs for improvements, to help you best negotiate your offer.
Defects are different from code violations, in that they tend to indicate general wear and tear on part of a house, as opposed to indicating that something is not built to code standards. Roofs defects, caused by aging or improper installation are likely to be found. This may not mean that a roof needs replacement, but it may be the case that it’s in need of maintenance and repair. Your inspector should be able to tell you if the roof will need replacing. In this situation, you’ll want to get some estimates on the cost of replacing the roof. Roof replacement costs will depend entirely on the size and type of roof.
Ceiling stains in homes can be an indication of past or current leaks. The challenge with this particular defect is to determine whether or not the leak was repaired and if it will recur again.
Another defect that can suck the value out of a home is a faulty drainage system. If the drainage system is poor, then the home may be prone to flooding. A good drainage system will prevent water intrusion beneath buildings.
Wood rot is common in areas that have been exposed for long periods of time. Exterior locations like trim, eaves and decks may be suffering from wood rot, and the other suspect rot spot is in bathroom floors where there’s consistent exposure to moisture.
Failed sealing around dual pane windows may be found. These will result in fogging
Other more manageable defects may be found, such as plumbing defects with dripping faucets, slow and/or leaking drains, switched hot and cold faucets, and loose toilets.
As well as finding common defects, your building inspector might come across some common code violations. A code violation is when some element in the construction of the home violates the code standards. In older homes this can be the case, if a home, which may have originally been built up to code has not been updated, and now some structural elements are out of date.
Issues most commonly associated with structural and framing violations are inadequate fastening, improperly sized beams, studs and floor joists. Other common violations that should not be overlooked are grading, foundation, footings and fire blocking.
Improper structure of stairs and handrails are another common violation. Poor spacing of spindles that allows infants to either get their heads or entire body through them are not permitted according to updated codes of construction.
In terms of electrical installation and panels, older homes can often be double tapped. Other electrical defects can be present, such as shorted or dead outlets and missing electrical junction box covers.
Some code violations are dangerous, but easily corrected. These might include broken or improperly installed smoke detectors.
Be prepared to encounter some of the above defects and code violations during you home inspection, particularly if you are looking into purchasing an older home.
Did you know that rainwater harvesting can help you save $’s on your water bill? It also helps reduce the demand on the local water supply! Grandma’s cistern may have fallen out of use, or at least out of fashion, for a while. But it is back today in your green home’s water system.
A rainwater collection system can be as plain or as sophisticated as you wish. It can be a simple weekend project to attach a rain barrel, or two, to an existing gutter system. This allows you to catch and store water for your garden or planters. At the other end of the spectrum are whole house systems that supply your family’s complete water requirement.
What makes up a rainwater system? Most will have the following components in some configuration –
A collection surface – often a roof. I have seen tarps on boats used for this. The U.S. Naval Air Station in Bermuda (converted to a civilian airport in 1995) had a 10-acre catch basin (think of a giant water slide) and 5,000,000 gallons of storage.
A collection system
– Usually gutters and piping to bring the water to the storage tanks and handle the overflow when the tanks are full.
A pre-filter system – often referred to as a “roof washer” to divert the initial runoff away from the storage tanksStorage tanks
– either above ground or below.
A pump – unless you are lucky enough to have a rainwater collection system uphill from your home
A purification system – lots of choices here depending on the intended use for your water For an in-depth discussion of this topic, down load a copy of the Rainwater Harvesting Manual.Case Study
For a look at the collection system that will supply the water for our construction site, check out our
“barn-sized” system that includes recycled tanks (reused actually) for storage. Return from Rainwater Harvesting to the Simply Green Home Building Home Page© 2009 simply-green-home-building.com