Know where landlords usually go wrong so you can do it right!

We recently posted the top 3 mistakes DC landlords make, and today we’re sharing three more things that often trip up property owners who want to start renting. By learning where landlords commonly go wrong, you can set yourself up for success.

Below we share the top three things landlords in DC miss…and how to make sure you’re meeting all the property management requirements so that you can be successful in your rental arrangements.

1. Not Disclosing Rent Control Status

According to the Rental Housing Act of 1985, the amount landlords subject to rent control can increase their rent each year is limited to inflation plus 2%. But this generally only applies to buildings that were built before 1975 that have at least 5 units. In addition, a landlord can claim exemption from rent control limitations for rental units that are/were:

  • Federally or District-subsidized
  • Owned by a natural person who owns no more than four rental units (including condominium or cooperative units) and registered as exempt,
  • Vacant when the rent control law took effect
  • Housing accommodations under a building improvement plan that are receiving rehabilitation assistance through DCHD

2. Failing to Provide the Tenant Bill of Rights

As of July 2015, landlords in the District are required to provide rental applicants with a copy of the Tenant Bill of Rights (TBR). We mentioned the TBR in our last post when we discussed Security Deposits, but the Tenant Bill of Rights covers a lot more than just deposits.

This document provides tenants with their legal rights regarding things like leases, deposits and rental payments, the presence of lead or mold, discrimination, eviction and more. The landlord must provide the TBR along with other disclosure documents that are also required under the Rental Housing Act.

3. Withholding Information About Lead Hazards

The hazards of lead-based paint and other lead sources in homes are well known and documented, and failing to disclose information about lead on your property can lead to serious consequences. In addition, if there are lead hazards on the property, landlords can be held liable for tenant health problems due to lead exposure.

Landlords must comply with the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act. In order to do so, the landlord must disclose information about lead-based paint and other lead hazards before renting their property and both the landlord and tenant must sign an EPA-approved disclosure form. (Landlords must also keep this form in their records for three years from the start date of the lease with each renter.)

The landlord must also provide every tenant with the EPA pamphlet, “Protect Your Family From Lead In Your Home”.

Any landlord who fails to comply with EPA lead regulations could pay penalties of up to $16,000 for each violation. And a landlord who is found liable for tenant injuries from lead may have to pay three times what the tenant suffered in damages.

The required pamphlets, as well as additional information about lead regulations, can be found at the EPA’s website.

Becoming a landlord can be a positive and profitable move, as long as you’re well-informed and prepared. Remember that if you need help wading through the regulations and responsibilities, a property management company like Columbia Property Management can help. Reach out for a free consult any time!