Can I get more money from a furnished rental?

Written by Laura Agadoni on . Posted in edited, For Landlords, Income Ideas, Laws & Regulations, paid, Rent & Expenses, Rental Advertising, Security Deposits

Furnished RentalsAn interview with Lucas Hall, Landlordology’s founder and head of industry relations at Cozy.

Not only can you get more money from a furnished rental, demand is growing in the furnished rental market, even with the popularity of Airbnb. Over the past decade, there have been more renters overall, and a percentage of those renters prefer to rent a furnished home for a variety of reasons.

I recently spoke with Lucas to get his opinion on what it takes to get into the furnished rental business and to get his best advice for landlords who are thinking about breaking into this niche segment of “landlording.”

First, lets talk about what exactly a furnished rental is.

There are two types of furnished rentals: long-term, meaning a few months or more, and short-term, such as vacation properties.

Most long-term rental properties typically don’t come furnished. But they can. And there are some benefits for renters. Furnished rentals usually have all the furniture and appliances someone would need, and they may or may not have day-to-day essentials such as plates, silverware, and linens.

Short-term rentals for 30 days or fewer are completely furnished with linens, a vacuum cleaner, grill—everything you can want. The idea is that all you do is bring your suitcase and move in.

What kind of furniture should you put in a furnished rental? Cheap motel furniture? High-end stuff?

The type and quality of furniture to buy should mirror the type of unit you have. So if you have a high-end unit that commands thousands of dollars a month, then you should probably have a leather couch, a nice bed frame, and art on the walls. Whereas if you have housing that attracts contract workers, for example, who make between $20,000 and $40,000 a year, you can have used furniture that’s still in great shape. Or you can get furniture from places like IKEA.

In other words, if your clientele is willing to pay $3,000 a month for a two-bedroom, that’s the clientele who would expect to have a nice sofa.

Another consideration is that if you buy the nicest furnishings, there is a chance things will get stolen. If you buy the best coffeemaker or the most expensive knives, those items might ‘disappear.’ You’re better off buying middle-of-the-road items that serve their function.

What is the market for a furnished rental? Who wants to stay in one?

I have had renters for long-term furnished rentals who are moving from across the country for a job, and it’s a big convenience to just be able to move right in. There’s no need to move furniture or to shop for furniture right away.

Short-term is a whole different game. There you have weekly or monthly vacation rentals. You also have traveling nurses who tend to stay for two to six months, and the hospital pays for it.

Related: How to market your rental to traveling nurses

How do you market a furnished rental? What, if any, are the differences in your advertisement?

It’s important to put in the title that you have a furnished rental. Someone who needs furnished housing will be looking for that first. An unfurnished rental in this case will be a deal breaker. Also describe in the listing what the furnishings are. And make sure you show pictures of all the furnishings.

An important benefit of a furnished rental is that furnished units generally look better in listing photos, particularly when you stage properly. You want your furnishings to look really good in pictures. Your furnishings should be clean, useful, and complement the space and the color scheme.

Whenever you’re advertising a property, whether it’s a long-term unfurnished rental or a short-term furnished rental, you should photograph it with furniture in it.

Related: How to shoot real estate photos like a pro

How much does it typically cost to furnish a rental property?

I have had experience furnishing a two-bedroom condo and a studio. For the studio, I spent between $2,000 and $3,000. With the two-bedroom, I spent about $10,000 to furnish it. I bought a little nicer for the two-bedroom because it was going to be a short-term rental. I needed durable furnishings.

My tip when it comes to buying furnishings, whether it’s for a short- or long-term rental, is to buy stain-resistant materials. Otherwise, you’re stuck with regular cleanings or having to replace the furniture every year.

Now for the question that helps landlords decide whether they will offer a furnished rental or not:

How much more money can you get for a furnished rental?

You can typically get 15 to 20 percent more for a furnished long-term rental. It’s a convenience. People are willing to pay for convenience.

And for a furnished short-term rental, you can get 40 to 50 percent more at a minimum. In some cases, you can even double that, getting 100 percent more, depending on the location of the property.

You can typically get 15 to 20 percent more for a furnished long-term rental. It’s a convenience. People are willing to pay for convenience.

Which locations are best for furnished rentals?

I’ve had the most success with furnished rentals in high-density or highly desirable areas. I’ve had a successful furnished studio, for example, right in the heart of Washington, D.C., right near Capitol Hill and a metro station. People wanted to live there and were willing to pay for the convenience of a furnished rental. Places like that appeal to people whose time is more important than money and who would rather spend more than deal with furnishing a rental property.

Can you charge a larger security deposit for a furnished rental? After all, there are now theft of furnishings and furniture damage to consider.

Absolutely. But you can charge only what your state allows. This is often between one and two months’ rent as a maximum. So most of the time, landlords charge one month’s rent as a security deposit for an unfurnished rental. But for a furnished rental, I think it’s smart to double that, or charge two months’ rent. And just like any security deposit, it’s fully refundable as long as there are no damages.

Do you have any further tips or advice for our readers?

A good opportunity for people who want to do long-term furnished rentals is to get into corporate housing or provide housing for traveling nurses. You figure out if there’s a company or hospital that’s willing to make a corporate agreement with you. They pay the rent and are responsible for finding tenants.

Are you interested in getting into the furnished rental business? Or are you in it now? Let us know in the comments!

Is my landlord responsible for my stolen bike?

Written by Kathy Adams on . Posted in edited, For Renters, landlord tenant, Laws & Regulations, paid, renter's insurance, theft

When it comes to theft, it doesn’t matter if your bike is worth $100 or $1,000. If your bike gets stolen from your rental, your first reaction may be to blame the landlord. In most cases, however, the landlord isn’t liable, even if it was stolen from inside your apartment.

Your stuff, your responsibility (usually)

In most cases, you’re responsible for your personal property when it comes to your home.

This includes your bike, your computer, or anything else stolen during a break-in. The same also holds true for a bicycle kept outside, whether it’s on a patio or locked to an onsite bike rack.

Landlord responsibilities

In some cases, your landlord could be held responsible for a stolen bike if they didn’t provide sufficient security measures. It’s the landlord’s job to ensure basic safety measures to prevent criminal activity, but what that means, exactly, varies from region to region. Some cities may require that rental units have functioning deadbolts on doors and locks on ground-floor windows. Others may require ample lighting in common areas. Check your local and state laws to determine landlord responsibilities in your area.

Landlord ignores security issues

If you can prove your landlord ignored known security issues, such as broken window locks, you may have a case against them. Document all requests for security-related repairs or upgrades, as well as general repairs inside your rental unit, as they happen. These can help prove your case in the event of theft. Your landlord also must protect your belongings if a contractor works in your apartment while you’re away, for instance.

Don’t rush to sue

If the landlord failed to provide sufficient security or make security-based repairs in a timely fashion, you could sue for negligence. Before suing, however, make sure it’s worth your while. Legal costs could add up to more than your bike’s value in a hurry. Another option is to simply not renew your rental agreement.

Related: How to file a small claims lawsuit against your landlord or renter

The benefits of renters insurance

You can take an important step to protect your belongings—renters insurance. Renters insurance covers your bike and any other personal belongings stolen or damaged during a break-in. Better yet, it even covers your bike if it’s stolen off site, such as from your workplace. This insurance also covers items lost in a fire, for instance. It’s a great idea to purchase a policy, much as homeowners buy insurance to protect their personal property.

Related: The ultimate guide to renters insurance

Read the fine print first

As with other forms of insurance, renters insurance rates and the amounts of coverage vary from one policy or company to another. Some include limits on payouts per item stolen or damaged based on a percentage of total coverage. For instance, a policy from esurance pays full value of any item stolen or destroyed, as long as that single item is 10 percent or less of the total policy coverage. Some policies also don’t cover high-value items, typically worth thousands of dollars. Most insurance companies offer numerous package options, so it’s easy to pick a plan that meets your needs and budget.

Read your rental agreement

Read the original contract you signed when moving in, and find out exactly what you agreed to as far as security. For instance, if the agreement says buildings and common areas are secure, but several thefts happened recently, the landlord could be responsible. Some agreements explicitly state the landlord isn’t responsible for personal property, which means you should take steps to secure your own belongings.

Am I responsible for the damage my guests or pets cause?

Written by Kathy Adams on . Posted in edited, For Renters, guests, Laws & Regulations, Leases & Legal, paid, property damage, renter's insurance, Step 10 - Repair & Maintain

You’ve invited a few guests over for a barbecue on the patio. Your pal Mr. Grillmaster, the self-proclaimed expert on charcoal grills, takes over lighting the grill and handling burger duty. A few squirts of lighter fluid later and the flames soar, which damages the exterior wall. So who’s responsible?

It’s your responsibility…

Even though you didn’t cause the damage, you will be held liable for it by either the landlord, their insurance company, or your rental-insurance company. You, as the tenant named on the lease, are responsible for damage caused by your household members, guests, and pets. Many rental agreements detail this information, so there’s no question about it.

…even if you weren’t home

It doesn’t matter how or when the damage happened—you’re still responsible. If you allow friends to stay in your place while you’re away and one of them causes a sink to overflow, damaging the floor or even an apartment beneath yours, you’re liable.

Your landlord expects you to pay for repairs to your unit and any other damaged property.

Dealing with renter’s insurance

If you have renter’s insurance, submit the landlord’s repair bill to the company, but don’t expect them to cover all damages. Renter’s insurance covers your own personal property, such as computers and clothing, but might not cover damage to your rental unit.

Renter’s insurance that includes liability coverage pays for damages to other people’s personal property, such as electronics in the unit beneath yours. As with other forms of insurance, the amount and type of coverage varies by policy. Read the fine print or call your agent to determine whether your policy covers damage to the building.

Related: A landlord’s guide to renters insurance

Shouldn’t my guest pay?

If your guest breaks a window, you can’t expect the landlord to send the bill to that guest. You’re legally responsible for the actions of the guest. You could ask the guest to pay the bill, but as far as the landlord is concerned, you’re the one ultimately responsible.

Burglary damage

If a burglar breaks in, you might not have to pay for damages to the unit. To help prove your case, file a police report right away and provide all pertinent information to the landlord. Read the lease terms to ensure you aren’t liable for such damages. Some contracts might shift such responsibilities to the tenants. Check local and state laws regarding this issue if your landlord refuses to pay for repairs.

Pet problems

Even if your landlord welcomes dogs, you could get stuck with a bill if the dog breaks a screen door, for example, when scared by lightning. Your renter’s insurance might cover pet-related damage, but keep in mind the cost of your deductible versus the cost of the repair bill. If you make an insurance claim, your premiums may also rise. It may be better in the long run to just pay for the repairs out of pocket.

Related: Landlord liability when a tenant’s dog bites someone

Ultimately, you’re responsible for everything that takes place in your home, just as if you owned the property. Keep that in mind before planning a wild party or adopting a large dog that might make a mess of the place in a hurry.

 

What to consider when buying a foreclosure for a rental property

Written by Sarah Block on . Posted in edited, For Landlords, Income Ideas, Laws & Regulations, Maintenance & Renovations, paid, Rent & Expenses

The lure of a good deal can make some pounce before they think, and foreclosures are no exception.

Let’s say you’re scanning the internet for some hiking boots. As you know, your search history follows you, and a pair of hiking boots pop up in an ad for 50% lower than others. You pounce. You get them in the mail, and they look like a floppy, sad version of what you actually wanted.

That’s what acting too fast on a foreclosure is like. You see a good deal, buy, and find that it wasn’t worth the money.

Related: Save 40%-70% on your next rental property with a pre-foreclosure

Four considerations when buying a foreclosure

Before you buy a foreclosed home as your next rental property investment, consider these four things.

1. Can you view before you buy?

When you find a good deal, it might be tempting to buy sight unseen because of the fear of missing out (FOMO) nagging at your brain. Don’t let FOMO win. Always make time to see your potential investment before you buy, even if you need to travel to see it. No one wants a surprise money pit.

By seeing the property ahead of time, look for the following:

  • The neighborhood. This can tell you what kind of tenants you will likely have.
  • The house. This gives you an idea of what work needs to be done.
  • Area rents. You’ll need to know what rent you are likely to get to determine whether the deal will be worth doing.

2.  How long was it empty?

When homes are unused for a long time, the decay gets worse, not better.

Rodents and bugs infest the house. Plumbing dries up from being unused. Bigger problems could have happened and never noticed like a roof leak, plumbing burst, mold, or vandalism/theft.

If you are purchasing a foreclosure that had been abandoned for some time, it’s even more important to get a thorough inspection before buying. You always want to get an inspection, but when it has been empty for a long period of time, ensure that the inspection dives deep.

Related: Risks of leaving a property vacant

3. Should you find skilled labor before you buy?

With nearly all foreclosures, there will be repairs that need to be completed. You should have a team of tradespeople in place before you buy, and have them review the property with you.

By having trusted tradespeople lined up, you have a better idea of what you are getting into or on whether to pass on the property. Ask them to go to the inspection, and then begin pricing repairs before you purchase. Ask their opinion on whether this is a good investment. A reliable team can help you budget properly, quickly repair the property, and turn a profit faster.

4. Are there any rules I should know?

Foreclosures have different rules than a typical property-buying situation.

Some government programs will not allow a buyer to rent out a property for up to five years. Understand the program you are buying your foreclosure from, and ensure that you are allowed to rent it once you own it.

If there are current tenants, legally, you need to honor their lease in some states. The Helping Families Save Their Homes Act of 2009 requires that all new owners of a foreclosure honor leases of previous tenants if they plan on renting the property.

However, if the new owner plans on living in the property, they are allowed to give the tenants 90 days’ notice. This law expired in 2014, and now tenant’s rights vary by state. In Illinois, tenants still need 90 days’ notice; however, in Wisconsin, they can be evicted immediately.

Related:  Are tenants required to move out during a foreclosure?

Use the same best practices as with any property

The same considerations for any rental property are still valid with a foreclosure.

Before buying, consider the cap rate. What is your predicted rent? Subtract expenses, including expenses to get the property ready to rent, from the annual rental income. Divide that number by the value of the property. A cap rate of 5%-10% shows that the property is a good investment.

The bottom line

Before making the decision to buy a foreclosure as a rental property, know what you are getting into. Landlords need to find tenants, make fixes, collect rent, and have great relationships with your tenants. You’re running a business, so weigh the pros and cons before diving into renting a foreclosure.

Don’t buy the discount hiking boots without doing the research first.

3 reasons you might not want to collect a security deposit

Written by Laura Agadoni on . Posted in edited, For Landlords, Laws & Regulations, paid, Security Deposits

It’s important to collect a security deposit that you can use in case of damages to your property, or to compensate you for unpaid rent.

But some landlords have stopped collecting security deposits.

Here are three reasons why.

But first, about the security deposit

The security deposit is exactly what it sounds like—security against damages or unpaid rent. So if your tenant damages your property beyond normal wear and tear, you can use the security deposit money to make repairs. Or if your tenant skipped out on you without paying rent, you can keep the security deposit.

But if there are no damages, and if your tenant has faithfully paid rent each month, you need to return the security deposit. And you need to do so by the deadline for your state.

Some landlords don’t do that, thinking the security deposit is a windfall for them. That sort of landlord makes it necessary for security deposit laws to be created. The problem is that sometimes the laws governing security deposits are more like “gotchas” for the landlord.

Related: How to handle security deposits properly

1. Security deposit laws can be oppressive

Every state, and sometimes jurisdiction, has laws pertaining to the security deposit. You can look up your state’s law here.

Most states have straightforward laws, such as this: Landlords must return the security deposit to the tenant within 30 days after the lease ends. Landlords must give a written explanation and itemize any money withheld. Check your state law since these laws vary.

Chicago, for example, is particularly tough on landlords. Here are some laws Chicago landlords must follow:

  • Landlords must place the security deposit in a federally insured interest-bearing account in an Illinois bank. This account must be a separate account, just for the security deposit.
  • The landlord must tell the tenant which bank holds the security deposit.
  • If the tenant paid first month’s rent and security deposit as one check or as one electronic funds transfer, the landlord needs to transfer the security deposit portion to the separate security deposit account within five business days.
  • Landlord must provide tenant with a signed receipt at the time of receiving the security deposit. The receipt must include the date, amount, name of person receiving the deposit, and a description of the rental unit.
  • Landlord must pay tenant any interest earned within 30 days of a 12-month term.
  • The security deposit must be returned within 45 days of move out.
  • If the landlord will withhold money, they must provide an itemized statement of damages and the estimated or actual cost of repair within 30 days of move out.

Wow! That’s a lot of regulations to keep track of.

Seattle also has tough security deposit laws for landlords.

  • Landlords must return the security deposit within 21 days of move out or send an itemized list in writing for any withholding within 21 days.
  • If a tenant can’t pay the full security deposit at move-in time, landlords must allow payment to be in installments.

Many landlords, rather than risk a tenant lawsuit for possible noncompliance, are simply not requiring a security deposit.

2. Security deposit laws can cost you money

Using Chicago again as an example, if landlords don’t follow the very specific laws, the landlord must pay the tenant two times the security deposit in addition to the security deposit itself. And if a landlord loses a claim filed by the tenant, the landlord must pay the tenant’s attorney fees and court costs.

Ouch.

Some states are also strict with landlords who do not follow security deposit laws to the letter. California, for example, also awards tenants two times the security deposit in addition to the security deposit if the court finds the landlord acted in bad faith. Read your state laws, and you could be shocked.

3. The cost is burdensome to tenants

It can be difficult for tenants to come up with first month’s rent plus security deposit, particularly in high rent areas. If people can’t afford to move into your rental, you could have a difficult time renting it out.

Renters ought to be able to come up with first month’s rent. If they can’t, then they probably won’t be able to pay the rent each month. But adding a security deposit that’s equal to first month’s rent upfront could be tough on some people, particularly if there are other fees involved such as pet fees, utility deposits, and moving expenses.

If you’re finding most people are having trouble coming up with first month’s rent plus security deposit, you might not want to collect a security deposit.

If you don’t collect a security deposit, collect a move-in fee.

Landlords need protection when they rent out property, and that’s the reason for the security deposit. But some landlords collect a move-in fee instead.

You may say this is playing semantics—whether you call it a “security deposit” or a “move-in fee,” you’re still collecting money. But there are differences between the two. You should understand what they are so you can decide whether collecting a security deposit or a move-in fee better suits your situation.

About move-in fees

Most landlords who don’t collect a security deposit collect a move-in fee instead. The move-in fee is typically not subject to as many regulations as the security deposit can be. The reason is that the move-in fee is not returned to the tenant at move-out time. The landlord simply keeps it.

But the move-in fee is usually less than the security deposit. It’s designed to cover the cost of cleaning the rental unit, painting, and making minor touch-ups. Most landlords charge a percentage of the rent, such as 40 to 50 percent.

Which should you collect? A security deposit or a move-in fee?

If you live in a jurisdiction where the security deposit laws are complicated and the penalties strict, you might want to consider charging a move-in fee, dropping the security deposit altogether.

But if you live in a state with straightforward security deposit laws, you’re probably better off collecting the security deposit.

What about collecting first and last month’s rent?

Some landlords collect first and last month’s rent instead of a security deposit. That can get you off the hook for cumbersome security deposit laws. But doing so means you are protected only from a tenant who skips out on paying a month’s rent. You would have to pay for any damages out of your own pocket.

Related: Collect a larger deposit instead of last month’s rent

Bottom line

It’s generally a best practice to collect first month’s rent plus a security deposit. But depending on your situation, you might want to do things differently.

Wyoming Rental Laws

Written by Lucas Hall on . Posted in Laws & Regulations, Step 1 - Perform Research

This article summarizes some key Wyoming Landlord-Tenant laws applicable to residential rental units.

We’ve used the Official State Statutes and other online sources cited below to research this information and it should be a good starting point in learning about the law.

With that said, our summary is not intended to be exhaustive or a substitute for qualified legal advice. Laws and statutes are always subject to change, and may even vary from county to county or city to city.

You are responsible for performing your own research and complying with all laws applicable to your unique situation.

If you have legal questions or concerns, we recommend consulting with the appropriate government agencies and/or a qualified lawyer in your area. Your local or state bar association may have a referral service that can help you find a lawyer with experience in landlord-tenant law.

Official Rules, Regulations, and Guide

Details

Security Deposit:

  • Security Deposit Maximum: No statute.
  • Security Deposit Interest: No statute.
  • Separate Security Deposit Bank Account: No statute.
  • Non-Refundable Fees: There is no statute governing what sort of non-refundable fees a landlord can charge a tenant. However, if there are non-refundable fees, the rental agreement must state whether any portion of the security deposit is non-refundable. The landlord must also given written notice regarding the non-refundable fees included in the security deposit when the tenant pays the deposit (Wyo. Stat. § 1-21-1207).
  • Deadline for Returning Security Deposit: 30 days after the termination of the rental agreement or 15 days after the landlord receives the tenant’s new mailing address, whichever is “later.” If the rental unit has been damaged beyond normal wear and tear by the tenant, the period to return the deposit is extended by an additional 30 days (Wyo. Stat. § 1-21-1208(a)). Utility deposits must be repaid within 10 days of the tenant proving that all utility charges have been paid. For information regarding deadlines for when such proof is not shown and when the landlord must make utility payments, see statute. (Wyo. Stat. § 1-21-1208(b)).
  • Permitted Uses of the Deposit: Landlords may use a portion or entirety of the security deposit to pay for past due rent, damages made by the tenant beyond normal wear and tear, cleaning costs, “and to other costs provided by any contract.” (Wyo. Stat. § 1-21-1208(a)).
  • Security Deposit can be Withheld: Yes. (Wyo. Stat. § 1-21-1208(a)).
  • Require Written Description/Itemized List of Damages and Charges: Yes (Wyo. Stat. § 1-21-1208(a)).
  • Record Keeping of Deposit Withholdings: The landlord must provide an itemized list of deposit withholdings and mail it to the tenant along with the security deposit (Wyo. Stat. § 1-21-1208(a)).
  • Failure to Comply: Tenants may recover the full amount of the security deposit and court costs if the security and utility deposits are not return within the deadlines set in statute. (Wyo. Stat. § 1-21-1208(c)).

Lease, Rent & Fees:

  • Rent is Due: No statute.
  • Payment Methods: No statute.
  • Rent Increase Notice: No statute.
  • Late Fees: No statute.
  • Application Fees: No statute.
  • Prepaid Rent: No statute.
  • Returned Check Fees: Landlords can charge a fee not to exceed $30 (Wyo. Stat. § 1-1-115(b)).
  • Tenant Allowed to Withhold Rent for Failure to Provide Essential Services (Water, Heat, etc.): No. Tenants are prohibited from withholding rent, for any reason, under Wyoming law. If the tenant does withhold rent, the landlord is legally allowed to initiate eviction proceedings. If any essential services are cut off or repairs need to be made to the unit, the tenant must notify the landlord of the problem, via writing, and allow the landlord “reasonable time” to make the repair. Tenants must be current on their rent payments in order to make such requests. The landlord has the legal right to refuse to make the repair and dispute the tenant’s claim. For more information, see the statute (Wyo. Stat. §§ 1-21-1203).
  • Tenant Allowed to Repair and Deduct Rent: Tenants are allowed to make repairs but they cannot deduct rent. The only situations in which a tenant may make repairs is after the tenant has notified the landlord of the needed repair and “reasonable time” has passed since the notification. The tenant can also send the landlord a “notice to repair or correct condition” demanding the repairs be made.  The renter may also sue the landlord in civil court and be “awarded costs, damages and affirmative relief. For details on the details to include in the notice, see the statute (Wyo. Stat. § 1-21-1206).
  • Landlord Allowed to Recover Court and Attorney’s Fees: Yes (Wyo. Stat. § 1-21-1211(b)).
  • Landlord Must Make a Reasonable Attempt to Mitigate Damages to Lessee, including an Attempt to Re-rent: No statute.

Notices and Entry:

  • Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Fixed End Date in Lease: No statute. Typically, no notice is given as the lease simply expires.
  • Notice to Terminate Any Periodic Lease of a Year or More: No statute.
  • Notice to Terminate a Periodic Lease – Month-to-Month: No statute.
  • Notice to Terminate a Periodic Lease – Week-to-week: No statute.
  • Notice to Terminate Lease due to Sale of Property: No statute.
  • Notice of date/time of Move-Out Inspection: No statute.
  • Eviction Notice for Nonpayment of Rent: Three days (Wyo. Stat. § 1-21-1002).
  • Eviction Notice for Lease Violation: Three days (Wyo. Stat. § 1-21-1002).
  • Required Notice before Entry: No statute.
  • Entry Allowed with Notice for Maintenance and Repairs (non-emergency): Yes. In general, tenants are prohibited from “unreasonably” denying access to the rental unit or refusing a landlord entry (Wyo. Stat. § 1-21-1205).
  • Emergency Entry Allowed without Notice: Yes
  • Entry Allowed During Tenant’s Extended Absence: Yes.
  • Notice to Tenants for Pesticide Use: No statute.
  • Lockouts Allowed: No statute.
  • Utility Shut-offs Allowed: No statute.

Disclosures and Miscellaneous Notes:

  • Name and Addresses: No statute.
  • Copy of the Lease: No statute, though it is strongly recommended that tenants ask and receive a copy of the lease.
  • Domestic Violence Situations: Landlords cannot terminate rental agreements solely based upon the reason that a tenant, or a tenant’s family member, is a victim of domestic or sexual violence (Wyo. Stat. §  1-21-1303).
  • Early Termination Rights: Yes. For details, see Wyo. Stat. §  1-21-1303
  • Proof of Status: Landlords can request proof–including court documents or copies of police records–showing that a tenant, or a family member, is a victim of domestic or sexual violence (Wyo. Stat. §  1-21-1303).
  • Landlord’s Duties: Wyo. Stat. § 1-21-1202 & Wyo. Stat. § 1-21-1203(a)(i-iv).
    • Compliance: Landlords must keep rental units in a condition that is safe, sanitary, and fit for human occupancy;
    • Repairs: Landlords are not statutorily obligated to make repairs “which do not materially affect the physical health or safety of the ordinary renter.”
    • Common Areas: maintain the rental unit’s common areas so that they are sanitary and reasonably safe;
    • Maintenance: Maintain electrical systems, plumbing, heating, and hot and cold water, as well as other appliances and facilities as specified in the rental agreement.
    • Trash: No statute.
    • Water: No statute.
  • Tenant’s Duties: Wyo. Stat. § 1-21-1202 ; Wyo. Stat. § 1-21-1204 ; Wyo. Stat. § 1-21-1205
    • Compliance: Maintain the residential rental unit occupied in a clean and safe condition and not unreasonably burden any common area;
    • Cleanliness: Tenants cannot destroy or damage, in any way, any part of the residential rental unit or knowingly permit other person to do so;
    • Trash: Dispose of all garbage and other waste in a clean and safe manner;
    • Plumbing: Maintain all plumbing fixtures in a sanitary condition;
    • Appliances: Reasonably use all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating and other facilities and appliances;
    • Lawful Activity: No statute.
    • Quiet Enjoyment: Tenants may not disrupt other tenants’ “peaceful enjoyment” of their home.
  • Retaliation: No statute.
  • Lead Disclosure: Landlords must disclose all known lead paint hazards. Landlords must also provide tenants, as an attachment to a written lease, with an information pamphlet on lead-based paint hazards.

Court Related:

Business Licenses:

  • Business License required: No statewide statute, but local cities and counties may have regulations and requirements. Check with your local governing authority.

State agencies & regulatory bodies

Housing Authorities

Realtor, and Landlord and tenant associations

Montana Rental Laws

Written by Lucas Hall on . Posted in Laws & Regulations, Step 1 - Perform Research

This article summarizes some key Montana Landlord-Tenant laws applicable to residential rental units.

We’ve used the Official State Statutes and other online sources cited below to research this information and it should be a good starting point in learning about the law.

With that said, our summary is not intended to be exhaustive or a substitute for qualified legal advice. Laws and statutes are always subject to change, and may even vary from county to county or city to city.

You are responsible for performing your own research and complying with all laws applicable to your unique situation.

If you have legal questions or concerns, we recommend consulting with the appropriate government agencies and/or a qualified lawyer in your area. Your local or state bar association may have a referral service that can help you find a lawyer with experience in landlord-tenant law.

Official Rules, Regulations, and Guide

Details

Security Deposit:

  • Security Deposit Maximum: No statute.
  • Security Deposit Interest: No statute.
  • Separate Security Deposit Bank Account: No statute.
  • Non-Refundable Fees: No. Any fees for cleaning or damages is considered part of the security deposit (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-25-101(4))
  • Deadline for Returning Security Deposit: If there are no damages, the landlord must return the security deposit within 10 days, via mail to an address provided by the tenant or the tenant’s last known address (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-25-202(1))
  • Require Written Description/Itemized List of Damages and Charges: The landlord must provide the tenant with a written list of any damages, cleaning charges, and unpaid rent within 30 days of the tenancy’s termination. The list must be accompanied with payment of the difference between the charges and the security deposit. (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-25-202).
  • Permitted Uses of the Security Deposit: Deductions can be taken from the security deposit to pay for unpaid rent, late charges, unpaid utilities, “penalties due under lease provisions,” any other money owed to the landlord, as well as the cost of cleaning expenses, “including a reasonable charge for the landlord’s labor” (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-25-201(1)). Cleaning charges cannot be conducted until written notice is given to the tenant specifying the cleaning not done and still needs to be done in order for the premises to be brought to the condition in which it was originally rented. For more details, see Mont. Ann. Code §§70-25-201(3).
  • Receipt of Security Deposit: No statute.
  • Record Keeping of Deposit Withholdings: No statute.
  • Failure to Comply: Landlords who do not provide such a list to the tenant forfeit their right to withhold any part of the security deposit (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-25-203).

Lease, Rent & Fees:

  • Rent is Due: Rent is due, without demand or notice, at the beginning of the month and must be paid in monthly installments (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-201(2)).
  • Payment Methods: Rent can be paid via check or electronic funds transfer to a bank account designated for rent payments (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-201(2)).
  • Rent Increase Notice: There is no specific statute regarding rent increases. However, Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-311 allows landlords to adopt “a rule concerning the tenant’s use and occupancy of the premises.” If such a rule is adopted after a rental agreement is created between a tenant and a landlord, the landlord must provide 30 days’ written notice before the rule takes effect. (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-311)
  • Late Fees: No statute.
  • Application Fees: No statute.
  • Prepaid Rent: No statute.
  • Returned Check Fees: A person who issues a bad check or electronic funds transfer is liable to pay a fee no greater than $30, and the payee to whom the check or payment is made out to can also pursue damages. For more details, see Mont. Ann. Code §§27-1-717(2)(3).
  • Tenant Allowed to Withhold Rent for Failure to Provide Essential Services (Water, Heat, etc.): Yes. If a landlord does not provide water, heat, electricity, gas, or other services, whether by negligence or on purpose, the tenant may provide written notice to the landlord, procure their own utilities, and deduct the costs from the monthly rent (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-408). Tenants who pursue this course of action cannot terminate the rental agreement, obtain damages and obtain injunctive relief, as stipulated in Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-406(2), for any noncompliance by the landlord.
  • Tenant Allowed to Repair and Deduct Rent: Yes. Tenants can perform repairs that do not cost more than one month’s rent and deduct the cost from rent, provided that the tenant has given the landlord written notice and the landlord has not made the repairs (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-406). Tenants who live in a one-, two-, or three-bedroom residence may also reach agreements, in writing, with their landlords allowing the tenant to perform “specified repairs, maintenance tasks, alterations, or remodeling” so long as the landlord is not evading their obligations. For more details, see the statute. (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-303)
  • Landlord Allowed to Recover Court and Attorney’s Fees:  Yes. (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-427)
  • Landlord Must Make a Reasonable Attempt to Mitigate Damages to Lessee, including an Attempt to Re-rent: Yes. (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-426(3))

Notices and Entry:

  • Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Fixed End Date in Lease: No notice is required as the lease simply expires.
  • Notice to Terminate Any Periodic Lease of a Year or More: No statute.
  • Notice to Terminate a Periodic Lease – Month-to-Month: 30 days’ written notice (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-441).
  • Notice to Terminate a Periodic Lease – Week-to-week: 7 days’ written notice (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-441).
  • Notice to Terminate Lease due to Sale of Property: No statute.
  • Notice of date/time of Move-Out Inspection: Either the landlord or tenant may request that the rental unit be inspected within one week of the tenancy’s expiration (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-25-201(2)).
  • Eviction Notice for Nonpayment: The landlord may terminate the rental agreement once three days have passed since providing written notice of the tenant’s failure to pay rent when it is due. (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-422(2)).
  • Eviction Notice for Lease Violation: Landlords can evict tenants for having an unauthorized pet or unauthorized people living in the unit, as well as for damaging the unit. For more details regarding specific violations and notice times, see (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-422).
  • Required Notice before Entry: Landlords must give at least 24 hours’ notice before entering the premises and may not “abuse the right of access” to harass a tenant. (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-312)
  • Entry Allowed with Notice for Maintenance and Repairs (non-emergency): Yes, but the landlord must give at least 24 hours’ notice before entering the premises. (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-312)
  • Emergency Entry Allowed without Notice: Yes. (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-312)
  • Entry Allowed During Tenant’s Extended Absence: Yes, no notice is required during an absence of the tenant in excess of 7 days or more. (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-426(2))
  • Notice to Tenants for Pesticide Use: No statute.
  • Lockouts Allowed: Tenants cannot remove, replace, or add locks that are not supplied by the landlord without the landlord’s written permission. If the tenant does remove and change the lock, the tenant must supply the landlord with a key (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-312). If the tenant does not supply a key, the landlord may terminate the rental agreement (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-33-424). The law also prohibits landlords from changing the locks or adding new locks to keep the tenant out (see: Landlord-Tenant: Know the Rules–Montana Department of Justice).
  • Utility Shut-offs Allowed: Landlords are prohibited from shutting off any utilities as a means to forcing a tenant to vacate the premises, pay unpaid rent, and so on. (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-428)

Disclosures and Miscellaneous Notes:

  • Name and Addresses: The landlord, or whomever else enters into a lease agreement with a tenant must provide the tenant, in writing, the names and addresses of the people authorized to manage the rental unit and the unit’s owner, or the person authorized to act on the owner’s behalf. (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-301)
  • Copy of the Lease: No statute.
  • Domestic Violence Situations: No statute.
  • Early Termination Rights: No statute.
  • Proof of Status: No statute.
  • Landlord’s Duties: (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-303)
    • Compliance: Landlords must comply with the requirements of all applicable building and housing codes that materially affect the health and safety of tenants; may not knowingly allow any tenant or other person to engage in any activity on the premises that creates a reasonable potential that the premises may be damaged or destroyed or that neighboring tenants may be injured;
    • Repairs: make all repairs and do whatever necessary to put and keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition;
    • Common Areas: keep all common areas of the premises clean and safe;
    • Maintenance: maintain in good and safe working order and condition all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, and other facilities and appliances, including elevators;
    • Trash: provide and maintain appropriate receptacles to remove ashes, garbage, rubbish, and other waste;
    • Water: supply running water and reasonable amounts of hot water at all times. Between October 1 and May 1, the landlord must also supply “reasonable heat.” For exceptions, see the statute.
    • Carbon Monoxide detector: shall install in each dwelling unit an approved carbon monoxide detector that is in good working order.
  • Tenant’s Duties: (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-321)
    • Compliance: Tenants must comply with all obligations primarily imposed upon tenants by applicable provisions of building and housing codes that materially affect health and safety;
    • Cleanliness: Keep the rental unit and any other part of the premises used by the tenant “reasonably” clean and safe, as the premises’ conditions permit. The tenant must also use the premises and its’ various rooms–bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, etc. –“in a reasonable manner, considering the purposes for which they were designed and intended,”
    • Trash: Dispose of all ashes, garbage, rubbish, and other waste in a manner that is clean and safe;
    • Plumbing: Keep all plumbing fixtures used by the tenant as clean as their condition permits;
    • Appliances: Use, “in a reasonable manner,” all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, and other facilities and appliances, including elevators, in the premises;
    • Lawful Activity: Tenants may not destroy, deface, damage, impair, or remove any part of the premises or permit any other person to do so. Tenants may not engage in, or knowingly allow another person, to engage in unlawful activity.
    • Quiet Enjoyment: Conduct oneself and require other persons on the premises with the tenant’s consent to conduct themselves in a manner, that will not disturb the tenant’s neighbors’ peaceful enjoyment of the premises; and
  • Retaliation: Landlords cannot retaliate against tenants for complaining of a lease violation, communicating with a government authority, or becoming involved with a tenant organization. (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-431).
  • Lead Disclosure: Landlords must disclose all known lead paint hazards. Landlords must also provide tenants, as an attachment to a written lease, with an information pamphlet on lead-based paint hazards.

Court Related:

Business Licenses:

  • Business License required: No statewide statute, but local cities and counties may have regulations and requirements. Check with your local governing authority.

State agencies & regulatory bodies

Housing Authorities

Realtor, and Landlord and tenant associations

Vermont Rental Laws

Written by Lucas Hall on . Posted in Laws & Regulations, Step 1 - Perform Research

Flag of VermontThis article summarizes some key Vermont Landlord-Tenant laws applicable to residential rental units.

We’ve used the Official State Statutes and other online sources cited below to research this information and it should be a good starting point in learning about the law.

With that said, our summary is not intended to be exhaustive or a substitute for qualified legal advice. Laws and statutes are always subject to change, and may even vary from county to county or city to city.

You are responsible for performing your own research and complying with all laws applicable to your unique situation.

If you have legal questions or concerns, we recommend consulting with the appropriate government agencies and/or a qualified lawyer in your area. Your local or state bar association may have a referral service that can help you find a lawyer with experience in landlord-tenant law.

Official Rules, Regulations, and Guide

Details

Security Deposit

  • Security Deposit Maximum: No statute.
  • Security Deposit Interest: There is no statewide statute dictating interest accrued by a security deposit. However, towns and municipalities in Vermont are allowed to adopt ordinances authorizing the payment of interest. For more information, see 9 V.S.A. § 4461(g).
  • Separate Security Deposit Bank Account: No statute.
  • Non-Refundable Fees: No statute.
  • Pet Deposits and Additional Fees: No statute.
  • Deadline for Returning Security Deposit: Landlords must return the security deposit, along with a written statement explaining any deductions, within 14 days of the tenant vacating the rental unit. If a tenant is renting a unit seasonally, the security deposit and accompanying statement must be returned within 60 days (9 V.S.A. § 4461(c)).
  • Permitted Uses of the Security Deposit: Landlords can use all or a portion of the security deposit in order to pay for:
    1. nonpayment of rent;
    2. damage caused by the tenant beyond normal wear;
    3. nonpayment of utility charges the tenant would pay directly to the landlord, and
    4. expenses related to removing a tenant’s abandoned possessions (9 V.S.A. § 4461(b)).
  • Security Deposit can be Withheld: Yes.
  • Require Written Description/Itemized List of Damages and Charges: Yes, such a list must accompany the security deposit when it is returned to the tenant (9 V.S.A. § 4461(c)).
  • Receipt of Security Deposit: No statute.
  • Record Keeping of Deposit Withholdings: No statute.
  • Failure to Comply: If landlords fail to return the deposit within 14 days, the landlord forfeits the right to withhold any part of the security deposit. And if landlords willfully fails to return the security deposit, landlords can be liable for twice the amount of the security deposit, plus attorney’s fees and related costs. (9 V.S.A. § 4461(e)).

Lease, Rent & Fees:

  • Rent is Due: Rent is due without demand or notice on a date and location the parties agree to. (9 V.S.A. § 4455(a)).
  • Payment Methods: No statute.
  • Rent Increase Notice: Landlords must give 60 days’ notice before increasing rent (9 V.S.A. § 4455(b)).
  • Late Fees: There is no state statute regarding late fees. However, the 1991 Vermont Supreme Court ruling in Highgate Associates, Ltd. v. Lorna Merryfield established a prohibition against late fees that are charged as penalties. Late fees charged as actual compensation for costs incurred by landlords as a result of late rent payments are the only acceptable situations in which a late fee can be charged.
  • Application Fees: Application fees are prohibited by state law (9 V.S.A. § 4456(a)).
  • Prepaid Rent: No statute.
  • Returned Check Fees: No statute.
  • Tenant Allowed to Withhold Rent for Failure to Provide Essential Services (Water, Heat, etc.): Yes. Tenants can withhold rent for major health code violations after they’ve given notice to the landlord regarding the violation and the landlord has not made the necessary repair or alteration. Tenants can also seek injunctive relief and recover damages, costs and reasonable attorney’s fees (9 V.S.A. § 4458).
  • Tenant Allowed to Repair and Deduct Rent: If landlords fail to make minor repairs within 30 days of being notified of the need for the repair by the tenant, tenants can conduct the repairs and deduct the cost from the monthly rent. The deduction cannot exceed one-half of a month’s rent. The tenant must provide the landlord with information regarding the cost of the repair when rent is being deducted (9 V.S.A. § 4459(a)).
  • Landlord Allowed to Recover Court and Attorney’s Fees: Yes (9 V.S.A. § 4456(e)).
  • Landlord Must Make a Reasonable Attempt to Mitigate Damages to Lessee, including an Attempt to Re-rent: No, however, if the landlord rents the dwelling unit before the expiration of the rental agreement, the agreement terminates on the date of the new tenancy. (9 V.S.A. § 4462).

Notices and Entry:

  • Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Fixed End Date in Lease: There is nothing in statute, but typically, no notice is needed since the lease simply expires.
  • Notice to Terminate Any Periodic Lease of a Year or More: In the case of no-cause evictions for tenancies of two years or more, at least 90 days is required (9 V.S.A. § 4467(c)(1)(B)). In the case of no-cause evictions for tenancies of two years or less, at least 60 days’ notice is required (9 V.S.A. § 4467(c)(1)(A))
  • Notice to Terminate a Periodic Lease – Month-to-Month: At least 30 days (9 V.S.A. § 4467(e)).
  • Notice to Terminate a Periodic Lease – Week-to-week: 21 days (9 V.S.A. § 4467(c)(2)).
  • Notice to Terminate Lease due to Sale of Property: 30 days (9 V.S.A. § 4467(d)).
  • Notice of date/time of Move-Out Inspection: No statute.
  • Eviction Notice for Nonpayment: 14 days (9 V.S.A. § 4467(a)).
  • Eviction Notice for Lease Violation: 30 days notice for lease violations; 14 days notice if the eviction notice is due to criminal activity (9 V.S.A. § 4467(b)(1) and (2)).
  • Required Notice before Entry: 48 hours, and the landlord is only allowed to enter the rental unit between the hours of 9am and 9pm (9 V.S.A. § 4460).
  • Entry Allowed with Notice for Maintenance and Repairs (non-emergency): Yes (9 V.S.A. § 4460).
  • Emergency Entry Allowed without Notice: Yes (9 V.S.A. § 4460).
  • Entry Allowed During Tenant’s Extended Absence: No statute.
  • Notice to Tenants for Pesticide Use: No statute.
  • Lockouts Allowed: No statute.
  • Utility Shut-offs Allowed: No. See the Vermont Department of Health’s Rental Housing Health Code, Section 12.1.2.

Disclosures and Miscellaneous Notes:

  • Name and Addresses: No statute.
  • Copy of the Lease: No statute.
  • Domestic Violence Situations: No statute.
  • Early Termination Rights: No statute.
  • Proof of Status: No statute.
  • Landlord’s Duties: (9 V.S.A. § 4457)
    • Compliance: Landlords are required to maintain rental units that “are safe, clean, and fit for human habitation” and which are in compliance with all building, housing and health regulations.
    • Repairs: No statute, but landlords are generally expected to make necessary and needed repairs.
    • Common Areas: No statute.
    • Maintenance: No statute.
    • Trash: No statute.
    • Water: Landlords must ensure there is suitable heat and hot water available.
  • Tenant’s Duties: (9 V.S.A. § 4456)
    • Compliance: Tenants are required to adhere to the obligations set forth in building, housing and health codes and regulations.
    • Cleanliness: No statute.
    • Trash: No statute.
    • Plumbing: No statute.
    • Appliances: No statute.
    • Lawful Activity: Tenants shall not deliberately or negligently “destroy, deface, damage, or remove” any part of the rental unit, appliances, fixtures, and so on.
    • Quiet Enjoyment: Tenants are expected to conduct themselves in such a way that does not disturb other tenants’ “peaceful enjoyment” of their homes.
  • Retaliation: Landlords cannot retaliate against their tenants for notifying landlords of violations of landlord-tenant law, complaining to a governmental authority, or joining a tenant’s union. Retaliation is presumed if the landlord negatively reacts within 90 days after the tenant’s action (9 V.S.A. § 4465). For information on the City of Burlington’s Anti-retaliation Law, see the city’s Code of Ordinances, Chapter 18, Section 18(29).
  • Lead Disclosure: Landlords must disclose all known lead paint hazards. Landlords must also provide tenants, as an attachment to a written lease, with an information pamphlet on lead-based paint hazards.

Court Related:

Business Licenses:

  • Business License required: No statewide statute, but local cities and counties may have regulations and requirements. Check with your local governing authority.

State agencies & regulatory bodies

Housing Authorities

Realtor, and Landlord and tenant associations

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