The multiple layers of federal, state, and local laws governing landlord-tenant relationships are complex enough – but to make matters worse, they change regularly. Keeping track of which rules apply at any given moment can be tough, but it is also essential for landlords who want to do their jobs well and reduce the risk of a lawsuit.
How can you stay on top of legal changes that affect your business? Here are four ways to stay up to date on landlord-tenant law:
1. Join professional organizations relevant to your business.
Professional organizations offer a wealth of resources for landlords and property managers, including updates on big legal changes. When a new law or court decision might revolutionize the industry, most organizations also offer informational articles, booklets, or seminars on how to prepare for and weather the change. Organizations like the National Association of Residential Property Managers or local landlords’ associations can help you keep track of the news and the law.
2. Leverage the power of Google.
Two of the best sources for legal updates and information are completely free and available through any Internet browser. For news and general information, visit Google News and search for items like “landlord-tenant law in [your city or state].” Google News also allows you to set up “alerts,” which send an automated email whenever new items appear that are related to your alert search terms.
To find the text of specific statutes or court decisions, try Google Scholar. Click the “case law” radio button and put your search terms into the search field. Google Scholar automatically indexes court cases and many state and federal statutes.
3. Read landlord-tenant blogs.
Blogging has revolutionized how professionals in every field find and share information – and landlords are no exception. Reading blogs that cover landlord-tenant issues from a landlord’s or property manager’s perspective will help you pick up useful hints and stay up to date on legal and other issues. Blogs can also be a great place to connect with other landlords and share ideas. Not sure where to find landlord-tenant blogs? Try Google’s blog search tool, which limits its search to blogs.
4. Sign up for alerts.
Many professional organizations offer email “alerts” similar to those used by Google News. The U.S. Department of Labor has an alert tool that sends out information regarding changes in federal employment law and laws related to background searches, discrimination and civil rights, and similar issues that can affect landlords’ businesses. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) offers similar tools, as do many state and local housing offices.
Note: This article is not intended as legal advice and should not be taken as such. If you need legal guidance on a specific issue, please contact an attorney who is licensed to practice law in your area.