Landloard/Tenant Q&A: CATHERINE M. MATTHEWS (R), GRI
Q. Can you ask a tenant on an application if they have a medical marijuana card, service animal, assistance or comfort animal? A. Although, I do not believe there is a law prohibiting these questions, I would strongly advise against having them on an application. Whether it be a medical marijuana card or a service or assistance animal, each of these is allowed by law to help persons with disabilities. You should never allow a person’s disability to weigh in as a factor as to whether or not you provide housing to them. If you ask the questions on your application, you are opening yourself up to be scrutinized due to the possibility you denied housing based on one of those items. In my opinion, it is best not to ask. If they have a disability and need any type of accommodation, work with the tenant to the best of your ability and the full extent of the law when you are made aware of the situation. I would suggest consulting an attorney or calling the office of Housing and Urban Development for further clarification or input.
Q. Is there a dollar amount or a percentage of increase in rent allowed by law? A. No there is not. You should base your rent on the fair market value of similar properties in your area, which would be your best assurance of keeping your unit occupied by good tenants.
Q. Is there any way to force a tenant to clean up the property when I am showing it for sale? My tenant doesn’t make the bed or pick up dirty laundry…the windows are dirty and there is general clutter. My property isn’t showing well. A. No, you cannot force them to clean the house, but you can, of course, talk to them. Perhaps you can offer to have someone come in and clean the windows, maybe even the bathrooms and kitchen. Tell your tenant how much you appreciate them allowing the showings. Perhaps you could offer a small gift certificate for dinner or groceries with a thank you note for leaving the property in neat condition. My experience has been that kindness can go a long way; a candid conversation wouldn’t hurt. Perhaps the tenant is oblivious and doesn’t even think about it. If none of that works, you are pretty much stuck with letting potential buyers know the property is messy. Or you could give your tenant notice to vacate (assuming they are on a month-to-month lease) and absorb the expense of a vacant property.
Q. I have a tenant who wants to allow a foreign exchange student to move in for a semester. They do have two extra bedrooms in the house but I am not sure whether or not I should allow this. They do not want the student on the lease. A. This is basically a business decision on your part. Have the tenants been good or are they borderline? Do they care for the property? Do you trust that they will monitor the actions of this student? These are things I would personally consider if a tenant asked me for permission to do that. The fact that they are asking and not just doing it is a positive sign. It will be hard to do a background check on a student from another country. I’d say follow your gut as far as your tenants go. If they seem like great people trying to provide an opportunity for a young adult from another country, why not? If you have reservations, I’m not aware of anything that would require you to agree to the request.