Question: I just purchased a vacant property for rental income. What should I put into consideration, before I start to rent it out?

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 provided a few tips to avoid problems before they start.

    1. Research your prospective tenant. Get off on the right foot by requiring written applications when interviewing prospective tenants. These forms can be widely available online for a small fee. Review the information carefully to identify any red flags such a gap in employment or previous rental history. Additionally, you should also pull credit reports to gain a better understanding of your applicant’s financial reliability. 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 ID features to verify you are speaking with proper references.
    2. Once a tenancy is established, keep lines of communication open. Make sure your tenant has all your contact information easily accessible to them. It is important to be available for all of their requests. No matter how small it may seem to you, the tenant may consider their request to be important, and will likely return the favor of contacting you immediately in case the property is damaged. This would be considered a good tenant and someone you would want to rent out your property if they reach out to you with damages and issues.
    3. Check with local courts. You can call or visit the clerk’s office of your local district court and with the Northeast Housing Court, located in Lawrence. Inquire about your applicant’s history as a party to any prior evictions or collection-based lawsuits.
    4. Avoid any unexpected visits. This is a sure-fire way to catch a tenant off guard and bring about defensiveness in your renting relationship. Even though you own the property, you need to respect your tenant’s personal space by giving the courtesy of 24-48 hours advance notice for any drop by visits or non-emergency service call.

Priority Law is available to advise on landlord and real estate law.

This article was originally published in the Lowell Sun and is for informational purposes only and not to be relied on as legal advice, in any manner.