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Should you become a landlord? Here are a few pointers.

If you live in New York and find yourself with an extra room or basement or other residential living space, you may have considered becoming a landlord. With real estate prices as high as they are, it is certainly tempting to have some help paying your mortgage.

So should you become a landlord? Some people would say "yes" without considering the potential consequences. Others would say "no" because they focus only on what could go wrong. In today's post, we'll try to provide a more nuanced view of taking on tenants.

First and foremost, don’t just assume that you can rent that extra room or basement without checking the legalities.

Should the rental be legal, here are some tips from a "checklist for new landlords" in The New York Times.

  • Do your own repair and maintenance work, except for things which should be left to a professional
  • Sit down with potential tenants to learn about them. Do a financial background check
  • Have tenants sign a formal lease; don't just count on a verbal agreement
  • Use an online property management service if you don't want to chase down tenants to pay their rent on time
  • Work to keep tenants that you like

These are all helpful hints, but one point in particular needs to be stressed: Don't underestimate the importance of thorough legal preparation. If you want to be a landlord, you do need to be ready to deal with that tenant who destroys property, the tenant who throws noisy parties, the tenant who is injured on your property. The cost of being caught off-guard can be very high.

A real estate attorney with experience in landlord-tenant law can help. At the Law Office of Schachter, PC, we can:

  • Investigate and confirm whether or not a rental is legal
  • Write a legally sound lease that specifies the rights and responsibilities of both parties
  • Identify and shield against liability wherever possible
  • Help enforce the terms of the lease, including eviction if necessary

To learn more about how an attorney can help a new landlord, visit the landlord-tenant law page on our website.

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