Your rental properties in Charleston must follow the rules—even if you're not sure what they are. Owning and operating rental properties means understanding and abiding by all state, local, and federal laws to keep your investments compliant.
Offering "habitable" rental homes is no longer enough. Property owners must take necessary steps to follow Fair Housing laws, ensure properties meet building codes, and comply with regulations about monthly rent and security deposit amounts.
It can be a lot to understand and handle when managing properties on your own or without the right property manager! However, ignoring the rules and hoping you don't get caught for a violation can be an expensive mistake. We've put together a guide with our best Charleston property management tips to stay compliant! Here's what investors need to know.
Avoid Discriminatory Practices
Rental property owners must apply fair screening practices when choosing a new renter. "Picking" a renter based on personal preference or denying a potential resident based on any bias violates the law.
A thorough screening process helps rental property owners apply fair practices and avoid discriminatory actions when it's time to pick a new renter for your property. To comply with Fair Housing laws, property owners:
- Can't choose or deny a renter based on race, gender, religion, familial status, disability, or ethnicity.
- Must apply the same pre-determined criteria when screening potential renters
- Are responsible for protecting private information according to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FRCA)
- Cannot change the rules or offer conditions of residency depending on the resident
- Can't tell a potential renter that a property isn't available (if it is still available)
- Must be careful about the questions on a rental application or during an interview with a potential renter
In Charleston and North Charleston, property owners must also avoid discriminatory practices that apply to a renter's sexual orientation or gender identity. A Charleston property management company helps investors know and understand the rules when managing residents. The best way to stay compliant is to partner with a property manager who stays current on all regulations and appropriately manages your properties and renters.
Maintain Properties According to the Law
What's good enough for your private residence might violate the law for your Charleston rental properties. All rentals must comply with building codes and guidelines established by state and local governments. DIY property maintenance might not be the best solution to following the law and keeping residents safe.
A Charleston property management company helps investors:
- Comply with all building and housing codes that affect health and safety
- Make all repairs necessary to keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition
- Keep all common areas of the property in a reasonably safe condition
- Make running water and reasonable amounts of hot water and heat available at all times
- Maintain electrical, gas, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, and air conditioning in good working order
- Maintain any appliances supplied for the property
- Detail renter maintenance tasks in the lease, if applicable
Routine maintenance helps rental properties comply with these rules. A property manager schedules these tasks throughout the year and responds promptly to maintenance emergencies, and conducts quality repairs.
While property owners must follow these rules to provide safe homes, renters also have a responsibility to take good care of your rental property. Make sure the lease includes their responsibilities and conduct routine inspections to hold renters accountable to the rules.
Other Compliance Responsibilities
What else is there besides the fair selection of renters and keeping properties well maintained? Real estate investors must also follow laws about disclosures, rent amounts, and when you can (and can't) enter an occupied rental property.
To stay compliant, Charleston property owners must understand:
- Landlord disclosures, including putting their name as the owner in writing and documenting the names of any persons authorized to act on their behalf
- Legal security deposit amounts and handling practices, including when a deposit must be returned and how to assess damage vs. wear and tear after a resident moves out
- How to document late fees in the lease and apply them for lease violations
- How to give notice to residents before entering an occupied property and when it's legal to enter
- The legal eviction process and when it's applicable
Successful (and legal) rental property operations require experience, knowledge of the law, and the proper oversight to stay compliant. A property manager makes it simple to follow the law and protect your investments.
Stay Compliant with Charleston Property Management
There are plenty of financial benefits to operating rental properties within the law. However, violating landlord-tenant laws can result in fines or losing the ability to operate legal rental properties in Charleston. Properties that aren't safe and practices that discriminate against specific renters will also leave you with empty properties and income loss.
The Charleston Property Company has the experience investors need to stay compliant! We stay up-to-date on all landlord-tenant laws and provide professional renter screening, maintenance, and management services to protect rental property owners. Contact us to learn how we can help!