Question: I just purchased a vacant property for rental income.  What should I consider, before I rent it out? What about landlords?

Answer: Because the largest area of trouble for a landlord surrounds security deposits, the last two columns discussed regulations governing a landlord’s duty of care and use of deposits.   However, landlords find difficulty in many other areas of property rental.  I provide a few tips to avoid problems before they start.

  • Research your prospective tenant. Getting off on the right foot is accomplished by requiring written applications when interviewing prospective tenants.  These forms are widely available online for a small fee.  Review information carefully to identify red flags such as gaps in employment or rental history.  Independently research the truthfulness of an application, by calling references and verifying proper information sources.  Desperate tenants may list friends or family disguised as references.  Use online yellow pages and caller i.d. features to verify you are speaking with proper references.  Also, pull credit reports to gain a better understanding of your applicant’s financial reliability.
  • Check with local courts. Call or visit the clerk’s office of your local district court and also with the northeast housing court, in Lawrence.  Inquire about your applicant’s history as a party to any prior evictions or collection based lawsuits.
  • Once a tenancy is established, keep lines of communication open. Make sure your tenant has all of your contact information easily available.  It is important to be available to their requests.  No matter how small it may seem to you, the tenant may consider their request important, and will likely return the favor of contacting you immediately in case the property is damaged.
  • Avoid unexpected visits. This is a sure fire way to catch a tenant off guard and foster defensiveness in your relationship.  Even though you own the property, respect your tenant’s personal space by giving the courtesy of 24-48 hours advance notice for any visit or non-emergency service call

Next week’s column will conclude the series on landlord advice by discussing the eviction process.

Contact Attorney James Haroutunian with questions at,, or by email at

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