The Top 4 Mistakes Landlords Make While Renting Their Property (2024)

Homeownership may be a part of the American Dream—but in reality, roughly one in three American households (nearly 36%) lives in rentals, according to a 2020 report by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University.

Renting has also become much more common among the age groups and family types that were traditionally more likely to own their housing. The report also found that renting rates for all age groups under 65 were at historic highs.

As a landlord, you're in charge of a person’s home—even if it’s only temporary. So it’s important that everyone involved in the lease understands their legal rights.

Landlord-tenant laws generally fall under the jurisdiction of individual states. But since many state laws are very similar in scope, tenants and landlords throughout the U.S. should expect that no matter where they're located, these are four things property owners should never do when they're renting out a unit.

Key Takeaways

  • Although landlord-tenant laws vary by state, there is generally some uniformity in certain areas about what landlords can and can't do.
  • Landlords should never enter tenanted properties without giving proper notice.
  • Landlords should never arbitrarily end someone's tenancy before the lease expires.
  • Arbitrary, mid-lease rent increases are not permitted unless specified in certain circ*mstances in the lease or by the municipality.
  • The Fair Housing Act prohibits a landlord from discrimination in renting, representing properties, or providing services to tenants.

1. Enter Without Proper Notice

Even though the premises technically belongs to you, you can’t enter a rented home whenever you feel like it. According to many state statutes, you must provide at least 24-hour notice if you wish to enter an occupied property.

The notice must outline the reason for access and must be given in writing unless indicated otherwise by the tenant. (In some states, you must receive the tenant's specific approval to provide notices electronically—that is, through email or text message.)

When you give proper notice, whether it is to make repairs, conduct a routine inspection, show the property to prospective future tenants, or carry out any other reasonable request, your tenant may have to invite you into the unit.

9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The only hours that landlords can enter a renter's unit in many jurisdictions. In other words, regular business hours on weekdays, from Monday to Friday.

A tenant can't deny a landlord access to the property when proper notice is given, and the request is reasonable. However, the occupant may request to change the date or put in a clause in the lease to limit the number of times the landlord can enter the unit.

Exceptions and Violations

Even states that mandate advance-notice rules allow exceptions. There are two that usually apply: You may enter the premises in an emergency, such as a fire or leak, or if you believe the tenant has abandoned the property.

A tenant who feels that their landlord violated the rules by entering their premises in a non-emergency without giving notice does have a few options. The first is to let the landlord know of the problem. If that doesn't work, the tenant may be able to bring it to the attention of the local or state housing authority or file a trespassing claim with local police or the court system.

2. Unlawfully Evict Tenants

You as a landlord may evict a tenant for many reasons, but you must go through the proper legal channels and give the tenant due notice. The amount of days necessary for due notice varies by state and can range from nearly immediate to 30 days or more.

If you do not follow the correct protocol, you'll generally face an uphill legal battle if you end the rental agreement or a tenant's occupancy before the lease expires. Landlords who abruptly lock a tenant out of the property without warning may fall within the definition of retaliatory eviction. Not only that but they may also be slapped with trespassing or burglary charges. Similarly, turning off utilities could be seen as intentionally putting a tenant in danger, especially if the local climate is prone to extreme heat or cold.

If you violate housing laws, a tenant may be entitled to remedies, including monetary damages.

On Sept. 1, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an Agency Order, applying to residents earning less than a specified amount, the order banned evictions for nonpayment of rent. The order was extended several times due to an ongoing state of emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, the federal ban ended on Aug. 26, 2021, and it was left up to the states to decide if to extend it.

3. Unjustifiably Raise the Rent

A lease is a legally binding contract. Once signed, there are very few circ*mstances under which the landlord can raise the rent. The only way the terms can be changed is if the increase meets a certain set of conditions in the lease itself. These may include:

  • A new tenant joining the household
  • The addition of a pet
  • If the landlord significantly remodels part of the property

You may also increase rent if the property is located in a city with rent-control or rent-stabilized ordinances that permit such changes. These ordinances define the circ*mstances under which the rent of qualifying properties—usually older ones—can be changed, and by how much. Increases might be tied to the rate of inflation, for example.

4. Discriminate Against Tenants

Unlike the other regulations, which stem from the states, the rules forbidding discrimination come from the federal government. The Fair Housing Act of 1968, also known as Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, forbids anyone—including landlords—from refusing to rent to an applicant based on:

  • Race
  • Color
  • National origin
  • Sexual orientation
  • Familial status
  • Disability
  • Gender

For example, you cannot advertise your rental property as being for families or individuals with no children allowed—yes, even families with children are protected under the FHA. Similarly, you cannot provide different terms or agreements for members of different protected classes than you do for other tenants.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) 's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) acts as the chief enforcer of the FHA. On Feb. 11, 2021, HUD announced that it would "administer and enforce the Fair Housing Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity."

The Top 4 Mistakes Landlords Make While Renting Their Property (1)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can My Landlord Evict Me?

Yes. A landlord may be within their rights to evict you but they must give sufficient notice and in most states, the owner must bring a court proceeding and obtain a judgment of possession from the housing court. Each state has its own set of landlord-tenant laws.

Can My Landlord Enter My Home?

Yes. A landlord can enter your home. However, the landlord must give proper notice to a tenant when they need to enter to conduct an inspection, show the property, or repair damage in the apartment.

Is It Hard To Be a Landlord?

If you want to become a landlord, you must be willing to put in the time and effort, it takes to be a good one. Being a landlord can be expensive, from purchasing a property to maintaining it. It can be a risky venture if tenants refuse to pay their rent or damage your property.

The Bottom Line

You have to put in a lot of time, money, and effort if you want to become a landlord. And part of that effort means understanding what the law does and doesn't allow you to do. Although you may be a landlord who owns a rental property, tenants have unique protections from discrimination, harassment, arbitrary rent increases, and wrongful eviction.

Aside from those dealing with discrimination, landlord-tenant laws vary by state, but as long as you maintain the home and leave tenants in peace—and tenants respect the property and pay their rent on time—chances are that you nor your tenant will have to consult local statutes or complain to local authorities.

The Top 4 Mistakes Landlords Make While Renting Their Property (2024)


The Top 4 Mistakes Landlords Make While Renting Their Property? ›

A pay stub typically includes details such as the applicant's name, employer information, pay period, gross earnings, deductions, and net pay. It's a great way to confirm an applicant's employment status and assess their income stability. However, if you request pay stubs, be sure you know how to spot fake ones.

What are some common mistakes a person might make when renting an apartment or other housing? ›

9 Mistakes to Avoid When Renting an Apartment
  • Renting Mistake #1: Not reading the lease carefully. ...
  • Renting Mistake #2: Passing up renter's insurance. ...
  • Renting Mistake #3: Ignoring the neighborhood. ...
  • Renting Mistake #4: Renting the apartment without seeing the unit.

Which of the following is a common way landlords check to see if you make enough income to pay the rent? ›

A pay stub typically includes details such as the applicant's name, employer information, pay period, gross earnings, deductions, and net pay. It's a great way to confirm an applicant's employment status and assess their income stability. However, if you request pay stubs, be sure you know how to spot fake ones.

What are landlords' biggest fears? ›

Many landlords often overlook essential aspects like proper tenant screening, failing to maintain the rental property adequately, or not adhering to fair housing laws. These mistakes can lead to issues such as problematic tenants, legal disputes, or property damage, which are among the biggest fears of landlords.

What are the dos and don'ts of renting an apartment? ›

The Dos & Don'ts Of Apartment Living
  • Do Inspect The Apartment On Move-In Day. ...
  • Do Consider Living With A Roommate. ...
  • Do Get Renters Insurance. ...
  • Don't Activate Utilities Immediately. ...
  • Don't Undertake Any Major Renovations.

What is one bad thing about renting? ›

Likely the biggest disadvantage of renting a home is the fact that rent doesn't earn you home equity. Rather, it earns your landlord equity or just goes straight into their pocket. For this reason, many renters will likely aspire to put their dollars to good use by purchasing a property.

Which three of the following are disadvantages associated with renting? ›

In short, the landlord can increase the rent at any time, cannot build equity if you're renting a property,there are no tax benefits to renting a property, you cannot make any changes to your house or your apartment without your landlord's approval etc.

How do you deal with a lazy landlord? ›

If your landlord is negligent and refuses to take the necessary steps to improving their rental property, then get an estimate for repairing the problem, send it to your landlord and request the repair in writing. If your request continues to be ignored, pay for it yourself and deduct it from your next rent check.

Are landlords usually wealthy? ›

Landlords Have an Average Income of $97,000 a Year

While landlords might bring in cash from several sources, their income levels tend to be solid. While the real median household income is just shy of $62,000, landlords bring in closer to $97,000 annually through all of their income sources.

How stressful is rental property? ›

However, don't jump into the rental property game without seeing that there are negatives and it can get very stressful. People often overlook things like times of vacancy, residents who don't pay rent, and maintenance issues. Real Estate provides no shortage of opportunities for stress.

Is landlord tipping real? ›

gratuity for a landlord doing his legal obligation is frankly obsurd and likely illegal.

How to make the best of a bad apartment? ›

Move in and then de-clutter – The best approach to making a place work is to move in everything you have, try it all on for size and get rid of what doesn't work. Cramming extra stuff in the corners or clogging walkways with unnecessary items will make it feel like the place is closing in on you.

What are some of the critical questions renters should ask prior to signing a lease and renting? ›

Questions to Ask Your Potential Landlord
  • When is the rent due?
  • What are the one-time fees? (This may include the security deposit, pet deposit, and move-in fees.)
  • Are the deposits refundable?
  • How do I pay for the rent? (online, by check, cash only)
  • What is the policy for late rent payments?
Jan 13, 2022

What are some advantages and disadvantages of renting a home quizlet? ›

  • Renting Pro 1. No responsibility for repairs, maintenance, yard-work.
  • Renting Pro 2. Easy access to recreation/laundry facilities.
  • Renting Pro 3. Mobility.
  • Renting Pro 4. Smaller initial outlay of cash.
  • Renting Pro 5. Some expenses included in rent.
  • Renting Con 1. Lack of control.
  • Renting Con 2. Rent may change.
  • Renting Con 3.

How would you reduce the financial burden of renting an apartment? ›

  1. High Rent May Equal Low Savings.
  2. Selecting an Affordable Location.
  3. Be Flexible for 'Nice'
  4. Find a Roommate.
  5. Be a Smart Rental Market Shopper.
  6. Finding a Place.
  7. Get the Details.
  8. Know the Potential Costs.

What is required to rent an apartment in California? ›

A completed application form per adult - your application can be applied to one property at a time. Proof of income; such as three months of pay stubs, three months of bank statements, or tax documents if self-employed.

How does rent control on apartments distort the allocation of resources? ›

As with other types of price ceilings, rent controls create a misallocation of resources. That is the apartments are not allocated to the renters who value them the most. If you ever get control of a rent-controlled apartment in New York City, for example, you never, ever, ever give it up.


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