-- This is part 1 of a 2 Part Series --

Has the New Year brought any significant changes to your life? If you have made and, perhaps, already broken some of your personal resolutions, now is the time to renew your commitment. If you are a Landlord or own real estate, there is no time like the present to “audit” your business practices to assess whether you are conducting business prudently or are taking unnecessary risks.

We counsel clients to be PRO-active rather than RE-active. Wondering what exactly you might tweak a bit? The following is the first of two posts, which will address that question.

1. Have a “Landlord friendly” written lease - Operative word: WRITTEN. It’s amazing how many of our Landlord clients initially do not have a written lease. We usually hear somethng like, “Well they have been good tenants for years.” While a written lease is not legally required, it is a dangerous gamble to make on such an important investment.  If you are in this situation and your client is a month to month tenant, with sufficient notice, you should get your tenant bound to a landlord friendly written lease. Of course you can download a “form lease” from the internet or buy one from Staples; however, this almost always creates more problems because these form leases usually have illegal provisions on which tenant attorneys feast.  A prudent business decision is to have a lease professionally prepared by an experienced landlord-tenant attorney. That way, when a problem arises (and one will arise at some point), you may rest assured you are protected.

2. Screen your prospective tenants - One of the keys to being a successful landlord is finding the “dream” tenant. That is, a tenant who does not burden you with unreasonable requests or complaints, pays his rent on time, and is conscientious to your property and your neighbors. Believe it or not, finding the dream tenant is easier than you think, it just takes some proactive investigation on your part.

First, contact the potential tenant’s previous landlords and ask questions. Did they always pay their rent on time? Did they ever have pets? Did they get along with other tenants or neighbors? Did you ever have any problems with them? Is there anything else I should know?

Next, check their credit and criminal history to ensure there are no unpleasant surprises.

Finally, investigate their current job status.  How long have they worked at the company? Is their job secure? Try to confirm the income stated on their application and whether it is hourly, salary, or based on commissions.

Doing due diligence now to identify any "red flags" usually pays off in the long run.

Rogers, Sheffield & Campbell, LLP routinely handles landlord-tenant disputes and represents landlords almost exclusively. Our Real Estate Law team counsels real estate owners to be proactive rather than reactive. Contact us today at (805) 963-9721 or use the secure form on this page.

Practice Areas And Regions Served

Rogers, Sheffield & Campbell, LLP primarily serves individuals, families and businesses up and down California's Central Coast and North Los Angeles County, including many Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and Ventura County communities.

Our experienced legal team includes business lawyers, real estate lawyers, tax lawyers, estate planning lawyers and civil litigation lawyers. Our areas of legal practice expertise include Business Law, Entity Formation, Real Estate Law, Tax Law, Estate Planning, Wills, Trusts, Probate, Wine Law, Vineyard Law, Civil Litigation and Alternative Dispute Resolution.


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