Real estate laws can be a buyer or investor’s best friend or worst enemy. For this reason, it is imperative that buyers, sellers, renters, investors, and landlords fully understand the law to avoid surprises. Laws are passed by the federal legislators as well as at the state level.
Laws change regularly, so it is critical to align yourself with legal experts that can protect your best interests in real estate matters, or risk the consequences of a bad decision based on assumptions. Below are some laws worth mentioning. With so much money at stake, knowing your rights and responsibilities when engaging in real estate transactions can make all the difference between disaster and success.
New 2013 Laws that Impact Renters and Landlords
Legislation was enacted to protect tenants from eviction for non-payment of rent during transitional periods when a property is being sold and the tenant has not been told where to send their payments. This law was designed to stop landlords and banks from suddenly claiming that the tenant is behind on several months of payments once the transaction is complete. The terms of this law require owners and property managers to officially communicate with tenants about where and how to send rent payments within a 15-day time period of the ownership change.
Another law that both landlords and tenants need to be aware of pertains to methods of rental payment and electronic payments specifically. The new legislation requires that landlords allow for at least one other payment option in addition to cash and electronic transfer for payment of rent or deposits. This law does not preclude an agreement being voluntarily made between a landlord and tenant to use an electronic payment method.
One of the worst nightmares that landlords must deal with is personal property left behind when a tenant moves or abandons a property. In an effort to protect landlords in this situation, this law gives landlords the right to dispose of personal property that is deemed to be worth less than a total value of $700. This new legislation more than doubled the previous allowable property amount of $300.
A new law in Massachusetts that is worthy of discussion and review is the Massachusetts Domestic Violence Act. This law allows a victim of domestic abuse or stalking the right to break the lease without incurring much of a financial penalty. A three-month notice is required in an effort to give the landlord some legal consideration. Provided the tenant gives the required notice, a tenant in this situation can only be charged one extra month’s rent.
Violent Crime Scene Properties and Disclosure Laws
Each state typically has a set of disclosure laws designed to protect consumers from unscrupulous or deceptive acts in real estate. It is noteworthy that 30 of the 50 states have a law that releases real estate agents and sellers from the obligation of disclosing the fact that a property being sold was the site of a violent crime. Investors enjoy buying these crime scene properties at deep discounts, then turn around and sell them to unsuspecting buyers for fair market value. One way buyers can protect their interest is to write a clause into the contract stating that the seller agrees that the home has not been the site of a violent crime.
Any party engaged in real estate must be sure to protect their interests when buying, selling, or renting property. New laws will be tested, and old laws can be interpreted in new ways by a different judge. The complexities of the ever-changing real estate landscape urge participants to retain an attorney that specializes in real estate as a prudent safeguard.
This article was contributed together with Robert Tritter, an aspiring lawyer who looks forward to applying his knowledge in his future career while making the world a better place. They write this on behalf of Home Exterior Systems and their great patio covers for homes in the Houston area. After familiarizing yourself with the real estate laws in your area, you should get started on some home projects to make your home look even better!