Buying Rental Property? Here’s What You Need To Know

If you've decided to invest in residential property, the services of an experienced real estate attorney will be invaluable as you navigate your way through the often complex maze of being a landlord. New landlords need to be familiar with the federal and state laws that govern the landlord-tenant relationship, as these laws vary by jurisdiction. Following are four key things that all landlords should know.

Fair Housing Laws

Landlords cannot discriminate against tenants based on protected characteristics such as race, religion, national origin, sex, familial status, or disability. This includes refusing to rent to someone, setting different terms or conditions for rental, or treating tenants differently based on their protected status.

Security Deposit Laws

Many states have laws that govern how landlords can collect and return security deposits. For example, landlords may be required to place security deposits in a separate account and return them within a certain timeframe after a tenant moves out. Most jurisdictions have regulations regarding the amount of time a landlord has to either return the security deposit to a tenant who has moved out or provide an itemized account of why all or part of the deposit is being withheld. 

Eviction Laws

Landlords must follow specific procedures and provide specific notice periods before evicting a tenant. These procedures vary by state and may include filing a complaint with a court and obtaining a court order. In some jurisdictions, failure to follow stated eviction procedures to the letter will have negative consequences for the property owner. For example, if a landlord attempts to evict a tenant without first obtaining a court order, or if they fail to provide the required notice period before eviction, the eviction may be considered illegal. 


Landlords have a legal responsibility to provide and maintain safe and habitable living conditions for their tenants. This includes ensuring that the rental unit has functioning plumbing and heating, proper sanitation and ventilation, and is free of hazards such as lead paint or mold. Additionally, landlords are required to disclose certain information to tenants, such as lead paint hazards, mold, or any other environmental hazards.

Landlord-tenant laws can vary from state to state, and even within a state, different counties or municipalities may have their own specific laws or regulations. Additionally, these laws may change over time through updates or amendments made by state or local governments. A good real estate attorney makes a point of keeping current on all new legislation that's relevant to real estate.

Reach out to a real estate law firm to learn more.