It is essential that before you begin renting out any residential property in Philadelphia, you must first obtain the proper licenses and permits. If you start renting before you obtain a rental license, you will not be able to evict a tenant or legally collect any rent from a tenant due before the date which you obtained the rental license.
Once you begin to rent your property, you must have all of the required documents executed at lease signing. It is highly recommended that you have an attorney draft a lease agreement. An attorney can make sure that the lease agreement ties all lose ends in your favor and keeps you safe from any hidden liabilities. The lease agreement should include information such as who pays for each utility within the property and what constitutes a breach. If the property you are renting was built before 1978, you need to make sure a lead based paint disclosure is presented to, and signed by, the tenant prior to move-in. The lead based paint disclosure should be signed and dated by the tenant to prove that they have read and understood the disclosure. You should also have the certificate of rental suitability and a “Partners for Good Housing” booklet with you to be given to the tenant. The tenant should then sign and date the booklet to give notice that they have read and understood the material.
There are some things you should absolutely never do as a landlord. A landlord should never lease any type of property through a verbal agreement. If a landlord does make a verbal agreement, the tenant can claim that the rent they owe is much less than what was actually agreed upon or they can claim that the lease is in effect for a longer time than originally agreed upon. In short, if the tenant does make a claim similar to the ones stated above, there is no proof of any agreement that a court of law could enforce and in turn could not solve your problem.
If there is a problem with a tenant and you want them evicted, never try to kick them out yourself or change the locks on them (this is known as self-help). If you kick them out or lock them out, you are depriving them of the property. If the courts did not give you permission to deprive them of the property, you may have a lawsuit filed against you. To guarantee that this does not happen to you, make sure you contact a lawyer if you have any issues with your tenant. An experienced real estate attorney will be able to guide you through the proper process to evict a tenant through the court system. You can contact our experienced real estate attorneys at 215-717-2200.