Owning a St. Louis rental property is smart from an investment standpoint. You’ll earn some consistent rental income and allow your property to increase in value over the years while your tenants pay down the mortgage and contribute to expenses.
Seems like a win/win.
However, real estate investing also comes with risk. Even experienced landlords and investors make mistakes, and those mistakes are often expensive and frustrating.
You may not have a real estate attorney on retainer, but there are some specific times when you’re going to need expert legal advice. Here are some situations where you don’t want to wait to call for professional help.
Evicting a St. Louis Tenant
Missouri law requires you to serve a notice to your tenants before you begin the eviction process.
That’s something you may feel comfortable doing yourself, especially if you’re working with a St. Louis property management company or you have a reliable template for that notice.
Once the case moves towards court, however, you’ll want to talk with an attorney.
Landlords are required to follow very specific rules, from notifying the tenant of the lawsuit to filing the right papers and forms. As we emerge from a year-long eviction moratorium, there’s really no way to know what you can expect when you get to court. Having an experienced attorney taking care of the case will provide peace of mind and ensure you’re able to regain possession of your property.
Fair Housing and Discrimination Claims
You can carefully follow all the fair housing guidelines and you may still find yourself accused of discrimination. If you have a well-documented process and you can easily show that you did not discriminate against any tenants or applicants, you likely won’t need legal help.
However, if you hear from the Department of Housing and Urban Development that they are opening a claim or beginning an investigation, talk to an attorney.
HUD judges can award tenants civil judgments of up to $16,000 per violation for first-time offenders. You could also be held responsible for attorneys’ fees and court costs. If your case actually goes to court, you will likely pay a lot more. A case like this is also potentially damaging to your reputation. Get a lawyer involved if any government agencies are investigating a discrimination or fair housing claim.
Lawsuits from Tenants
You might find yourself sued by a tenant. If a resident or their guests claim that they were injured at your property or got sick from fumes, mold, or some other substance, you’ll want to talk to your liability insurance company and a lawyer.
Personal injury lawsuits can get expensive to defend. You’ll also have a hard time detaching from the emotions of a potential lawsuit. It’s hard not to take it personally when a tenant is blaming you for something that went wrong or caused harm.
A lawyer will be a calm and professional presence and help negotiate the best outcome. Your insurance company may handle the legal representation for you.
Tax Trouble and the IRS
No one likes to be audited, and if the IRS comes knocking to ask about past filings, hire a lawyer.
Hopefully, you have well-documented income and expenses reports. If your financials are in good shape, you won’t have much to worry about. If there are some red flags, however, or you’re worried about deductions you took or income you didn’t report, be forthcoming with your attorneys so they can help you.
These are some of the situations in which you may want to talk to a lawyer. If you don’t need legal help but you’d like some advice as it pertains to St. Louis property management, contact us at Amoso Properties.