Last Updated: February 2024
Law plays an enormous role in the rental real estate business. Since a majority of the business is made up of negotiating contracts and exchanging money, laws are what keep the entire industry flowing in harmony. Although some specific rules drastically vary from state to state (and even city to city), there are many larger rental real estate law topics that are universal everywhere. Below we take a deep dive into these main components of rental real estate law.
Landlord Tenant Law by State
Landlord tenant law is a set of legal statutes and regulations governing the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants in rental property agreements within the United States. These laws cover various aspects of the rental process, such as lease agreements, security deposits, rent control, eviction procedures, habitability standards, and discrimination policies. Since landlord-tenant laws are primarily enacted and enforced at the state level, they can vary significantly from one state to another, with each jurisdiction having its own set of rules and regulations.
Rental Property Documents
Agreements & Contracts
Notices & Letters
Agreements, notices, and letters are important tools of the trade for rental real estate professionals. From buying and selling, to managing rental properties, the entire landlord and tenant relationship is bound by what is put in writing. Since most Landlords are not savvy Lawyers, there are thankfully many prewritten forms available as templates for property owners and managers to use without the need to draft one from scratch. Technologies such as digital signatures also allow for more efficient and even remote agreements to be executed.
Rental Real Estate Ownership
Since rental real estate is treated as a business, legal ownership can take many different forms. There are many different types of ownership to choose from: Corporation, Trust, LLC, Partnership, REIT, and more. Choosing the right form of property ownership is extremely important for several reasons such as liability protection, controlling tax liabilities, and staying on top of administrative requirements.
Rental Property Evictions
Things in business unfortunately don’t always go as planned. The most common type of unfortunate occurrence in the rental real estate business is when a tenant stops paying rent or severely violates a lease agreement that requires them to be removed from the property. Similar cases may also include a tenant who defaults on a lease agreement and then abandons the unit before the term is over. Thankfully, there are laws and procedures that property owners can take to correct these issues.
Landlord associations can be an excellent way for landlords to find support among peers. They are organizations or groups that promote the interests of property owners and managers in the rental market. They provide resources, education, and advocacy to their members, offering support on various aspects of property management, including legal compliance, tenant relations, and best practices for maintaining rental properties.
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Real Estate Law Software & Tools
Online Rental Property Documents
Since most Landlords are not savvy Lawyers, there are thankfully many prewritten forms available as templates for property owners and property managers to use without the need to draft one from scratch. These online form templates range from free downloadable PDFs to paid services where you can login to fill them out.
Rental Property Digital Signatures
Digital signatures for rental property documents are becoming increasingly popular among real estate professionals; especially since they can be as legally binding as traditional ink signatures. Landlords and tenants can sign lease agreements and other rental documents online using this software, which offers convenience and time efficiency.
Rental Real Estate Law FAQ
What is Rental Real Estate Law?
Rental real estate law is the field of law that governs the rights and duties of landlords and tenants, where the relationship between the two is outlined via legal contracts and enforced by laws of the local government.
Which States Require Real Estate Attorneys For Transactions?
Laws and regulations that can significantly vary from one state to another. A case in point is the involvement of real estate attorneys in property transactions. While it’s often a good idea to have legal counsel, certain states mandate their involvement, emphasizing the gravity and intricacies involved in these transactions. These states include:
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Carolina
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
What are Rental Real Estate Law Jobs?
A career in real estate law is a highly respected professional path that takes a deep dive into the legal aspects of owning and operating rental properties. The most common type of jobs in this sector are Lawyers and Paralegals. They undertake a wide variety of duties, ranging from evaluating and drafting contracts to litigating disputes that may arise. These rental real estate jobs require extensive in-depth knowledge of relevant laws and regulations associated with renting properties, as well as solid communication and negotiation skills.
Are Landlords Required to Keep Security Deposits in Interest-Bearing Accounts?
The requirement for landlords to hold security deposits in interest-bearing accounts is subject to state and local laws. In some jurisdictions, landlords are obligated to place security deposits in such accounts and may even be required to pay tenants the accrued interest annually or upon return of the deposit. However, in other states, there’s no such requirement, and landlords can hold the security deposit in a non-interest-bearing account or even commingle it with their own funds. Some states also have rules that apply only if the landlord owns a certain number of rental units or if the lease lasts for a specific length of time.
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