Being a landlord can be a financially rewarding experience. As with any investment activity, it does come with risks. Thus, you should take steps to protect your rights and avoid common mistakes. Here are 4 important tips for new landlords in Massachusetts when it comes to leases and tenants.
1 – Have a Lease Drafted by an Attorney
A quick search online and you’ll probably find a ton of boilerplate lease templates. If you compare them, they can be quite different. Some are non-state specific and some claim to be for Massachusetts. The fact is, unless you are a real estate attorney, you may not realize what is missing or wrong with these templates. Landlord-tenant laws also change frequently, so it’s possible that those templates are extremely old and outdated. For instance, now that marijuana is legal in the state, should you include something in your leases about growing or using it on the premises? To protect your interests and rights as a landlord, it’s best to have a lease drafted specifically for you and your property. Contact a Massachusetts real estate attorney for assistance.
2 – Prepare an Apartment Condition Statement with Photos
Disputes over property conditions and damages are very common in rental properties. With every new lease, be sure to prepare an apartment condition statement and give your tenant an opportunity to review and amend it when they first move in (in case you missed anything). It’s a great idea to also take pictures. This can be used later to prove whether damages were pre-existing or the responsibility of the tenants.
3 – Get Up to Speed with Massachusetts Landlord-Tenant Laws
The landlord-tenant laws in Massachusetts are very tenant-oriented. Get up to speed on your requirements and responsibilities as a landlord. Information is available at the attorney general’s website at: https://www.mass.gov/guides/the-attorney-generals-guide-to-landlord-and-tenant-rights.
4 – Keep Comprehensive Records
How can you prove that you have complied with the law? It all comes down to good record keeping. Whether it be photos, signed documents, emails, or receipts, be sure to keep a copy of everything! This is one of the most important tips for new landlords in Massachusetts. Those records are critical in any disputes or court cases that may follow. Detailed records are essential to protecting your rights as a landlord.
More Tips for New Landlords in Massachusetts
Don’t wait for legal issues to contact an attorney. As a landlord, you should establish a relationship with an attorney ahead of time. In addition to preparing your lease, your attorney can offer valuable advice on how to handle certain tenant matters properly and minimize your risks. Working with an attorney is like having an insurance policy for your rental investment. Contact our team for assistance with your Massachusetts rental property.