Landlords, You’re Struggling During These Times Too. Here Are Some Tips.
Monique Bolsajian Graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara
Court Buddy will be holding its second ever Legal Meet-Up on Friday, June 26th at 1 PM PST (4 PM EST).
These virtual workshops are a unique opportunity to get your pressing legal questions answered by a panel of top attorneys, free of charge. We’re doing this because we want to connect the public with crucial information and resources that they need now more than ever due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Our first Legal Meet-Up drew over 200 participants.
Our upcoming Legal Meet-Up will be focusing on landlord-tenant issues.
Jennifer Bock, of Bock Legal Services LLC, is a civil attorney based in Ohio who will be one of our panelists at the next Meet-Up. She specializes in landlord/tenant issues.
She’s the type of lawyer who works directly with landlords and tenants. “When you call me, you get me,” Bock told us. “Not a paralegal or secretary.”
The landlord-tenant space is changing rapidly because of the Coronavirus. The new measures put in place through the CARES Act, as well as individual states’ eviction moratoriums, have put a pause on filing eviction cases.
Now that courts across the nation are reopening, landlords have questions about what’s going to happen next. We spoke with Bock about important things that landlords should be keeping track of.
What are some tips for landlords who are entering new landlord-tenant relationships during the Coronavirus?
“Landlords need to look into changing the way they’re turning over the new properties to tenants,” Bock explains.
The most important thing for landlords to do in response to the pandemic is to ensure they are thoroughly sanitizing rental properties and any public areas in their buildings, especially before viewings.
“Not just soap, but with sanitizing cleaners too,” Bock says. Taking proper measures to sanitize your property is an important step to protecting your own health and the health of applicants who view your property.
While there are currently no laws requiring that landlords regularly sanitize properties before viewings, it is an important step that all landlords should be taking, should tenants argue they got sick with Covid-19 after moving into a new apartment.
Landlords should also make efforts to communicate with applicants remotely as much as possible.
“Anything that can be done electronically should be done so,” Bock explains. Landlords should focus on “minimizing contact between parties as much as possible and social distancing.” Lease signings and rental payments should be done electronically where possible.
Because studies about the Coronavirus are constantly coming out, and safety regulations are changing so often, it’s important to be cautious.
Does anything about the rental application process need to change on the landlord’s end due to the Coronavirus?
“The application process should still be in play as is,” Bock explains. Landlords should continue thoroughly evaluating applicants before renting out their properties.
The key materials that Ms. Bock uses in her legal seminars include information about how to properly screen applicants for landlords looking to enter new landlord-tenant relationships.
Using an application form is one way to screen applicants. Ms. Bock emphasizes that your application form should contain information such as the tenant’s proposed occupants and pets, employment history, banking information, and previous tenant history, among other things.
It's also a good idea to have the tenant authorize a background check. The landlord can charge the background check to the tenant and nearly all do. "Serious renters will gladly pay the fee," Ms. Bock states. Doing so "will reveal any other potential problems with an applicant."
Once you receive a completed application, you should call the applicant’s employers and previous landlords to verify the information provided in the application. Ms. Bock explains in her seminar materials that “If the applicant provides false information,” or if “you are not able to verify the provided information, you should not rent to that applicant.”
After your tenant signs the lease, your responsibilities as a landlord largely stay the same.
In Ohio, these responsibilities include keeping the property habitable, making necessary repairs, and keeping up to date with building, health, and safety codes.
What if I’m looking to file an eviction case once the moratoriums expire?
Court cases will look different depending on local legislation.
Dayton, Ohio, for example, now has an Eviction Task Force to provide tenants with additional protections during the pandemic. These protections include capping late fees that landlords can charge on late rent payments, as well as requiring landlords to provide receipts for rent payments when they are paid with cash or a money order.
Some courts want landlords to sign affidavits too, which outline details such as what amount of rent has been paid and whether or not the property is covered under the CARES Act.
Be sure to read up on local regulations, or talk to an attorney, before filing an eviction case to make sure you understand what protections are in place in your area. That way, you’ll know what you can ask for in court.
Bock Legal Services LLC
Both landlords and tenants can request free consultations from Ms. Bock to discuss your case. She charges a flat fee of $300 plus court fees for first cause evictions.
Other fees will vary depending on your case. Contact Bock Legal Services LLC for more information.
Ms. Bock is also handling all cases remotely due to the pandemic.
Register for Court Buddy’s Legal Meet-Up today to hear Ms. Bock and other top attorneys answer your landlord-tenant questions.
Court Buddy is here to connect you with an experienced and trusted lawyer who can help you at an affordable rate. The company assists with the management of your case and lawyer relationship. Your lawyer will assess your legal issue in a timely and confidential manner, explain why you need or do not need a lawyer, and only charge you for the legal services performed and associated out of pocket fees. This article is intended to convey general information and does not constitute legal advice.