Property Management – Ordinances & Laws

Novice Landlords and their Realtors can easily find themselves on the wrong side of Rental Property ordinances and laws at the Federal, State, and Local levels.  An agent will want to know, going in, what is needed and will want to stay abreast of any changes from year to year.

Housing and Urban Development administers Fair Housing Laws.  You cannot discriminate against a tenant or prospect based on race or color, religion, national origin, familial status, age, disability or sex.  (Many local ordinances add sexual orientation to this list.)  This affects not only who the property is  leased to, but how you advertise your clients’ property and how your client treats the tenant once they are in the property.  Do you advertise your property as “perfect for young families”?  Do you not return calls from non-native English-speakers?  Do you charge more security deposit for 2 college students than you would for 2 senior citizens?  These are all forms of discrimination.

Texas Property Code has requirements for safety and security of a rental property.  It outlines specifics regarding locking devices – their placement and type – and about smoke detectors.  Does every window have a working latch?  Do you have the correct locks?  Door viewers?  Smoke detectors in all the bedrooms?  Do you know where else smoke detectors are required?  If you as a Realtor are going to represent clients with residential rental properties, you must make it a priority to know Texas Property Code. 

Once you’ve master Texas Property Code, you’re ready to move on to Local Ordinances.  In a large Metroplex such as DFW, a Realtor and their client encounters numerous local authorities governing rental property.  Local ordinances often require annual registration.  Some municipalities inspect rental properties annually, others only between tenants, and others only when a complaint is received.  Local ordinances may address placement of For Lease signs, how the hot water heater is vented, how often the lawn must be mown, etc.  Do you know what’s needed for your local government?  A Professional Property Manager keeps track of the differing Local Ordinances and often has resources in place to flag what is needed for your client’s property.

One critical job of a professional Property Manager is to protect their client and their client’s asset from potential liability.  One way to do that is to help the client get and stay compliant with Federal, State, and Local laws.  

Guest blog courtesy Shirley Johnson, 3G Properties.