What a Landlord Cannot Do

Table of Contents

Becoming a landlord can be a fun and profitable venture with lots of opportunities for investments and career growth. Many people who are interested in real estate decide to become landlords to diversify their investment portfolio, or simply to experience an adventure in the property sector. Still, there is more to being a landlord than meets the eye. 

There are some very specific rules that all landlords should follow, plus certain things that each should do to ensure their tenants are happy with their living situations and that the law is always followed — even in tough situations. Here is a handy guide for anyone who is considering becoming a landlord, including information about what they can and cannot do. 

4 Things Landlords CAN Do

It can be tricky to define boundaries between landlords and tenants. The important thing to remember is that your tenants are your clients, and you want to keep your clients happy so they remain with you as long as possible. That can be tricky when issues arise, but there are some basic things that all landlords are generally allowed to do.

  1. Enter to perform maintenance requests

When a tenant logs a maintenance request, it is perfectly acceptable for landlords to enter the apartment or residence to fulfill the maintenance ticket. The landlord should check with the tenant beforehand to establish an approximate time frame for entry, if at all possible, thereby giving the tenant ample notice to prepare for the visit. 

  1. Show properties that are for sale

If a property is listed on the market, landlords have the right to enter the residence or business to show it to potential buyers. As with maintenance requests, it is worthwhile to set a time for the showing with a current resident if the property is occupied. 

  1. Enter to serve a court order

Landlords are generally prohibited from entering an occupied residence without prior warning, with very few exceptions. One of these exceptions is in the case of a court order: If the landlord does obtain a court order, he or she is able to enter the residence with or without advanced notice to the current tenant. 

  1. Enter to check on health or safety concerns

If there is a legitimate concern over health and safety at the residence in question, a landlord is able to follow up on those concerns. For example, landlords can enter the property if they suspect that there is mold, water damage, or that the tenants might have had an accident and require emergency care. They are allowed to check on the situation to ensure the tenants there are living in safe conditions.

A good rule of thumb is to speak with your current tenants ahead of time — unless you’re in an emergency situation — to set up visits to the property so as not to infringe on their rights to quiet enjoyment.

What a Landlord Cannot Do 3

What A Landlord CANNOT Do

Even more important than the rules for what landlords are allowed to do is the list of what they should not. In order to establish a solid landlord-tenant relationship, it is vital that property managers and landlords respect these rules and don’t cross any established boundaries. 

  1. Enter without notice

According to many state statutes, landlords are not able to enter a residence without advanced warning even if the property belongs to them. There are a few states that require landlords to get the tenant’s written approval prior to entering and in some cases, there are hourly restrictions, so always check statutes ahead of time. 

  1. Enact unreasonable rent increases

Leases are legally binding and require the consent of both parties. Therefore, landlords are not able to raise the rent on a residence without one of a few conditions being met. These conditions could include a new tenant being added to the residence in question, pets added to the unit, or significant upgrades to the property. Still, these things should be discussed with the tenant ahead of time to avoid conflict. 

  1. Change the locks to force tenants out

Landlords should always do their best to maintain open lines of communication with their tenants. No major changes should be made to the property without updating the tenant, unless there are extenuating circumstances. One thing landlords should avoid is changing out the locks on the property to force tenants out. This is illegal, and there is a much better way to handle the situation. 

  1. Discriminate

Make no bones about it, discrimination is never a good idea. No landlord should ever practice discrimination against any tenant, regardless of the circumstances. This is legally backed by the Fair Housing Act, which forbids anyone from refusing to rent to an applicant on the basis of religion, race, gender, familial status, origin, or handicap.

  1. Expect tenants to vacate on short notice

Landlords must place realistic expectations on tenants, even if they are having issues with them. They should go through proper legal channels to evict someone, and most states require a 30-day notice unless there are other circumstances to consider.

  1. Place personal restrictions on tenants

Another part of the Fair Housing Act that landlords are required to respect is the portion that states they cannot discriminate against tenants on the basis of the children they have or plan to add. Landlords should not ask tenants if they are planning to have children in the future, or other personal questions such as what church they attend.

  1. Ask tenants to make major repairs themselves

Landlords are required to make all major repairs themselves, and it is illegal to ask tenants to handle such repairs or updates out of pocket. It is even legally required that landlords make minor repairs in some areas, so it is always worth checking your state’s laws on the proper approach if you find yourself in such a situation. 

It’s important to remember that your tenants are typically reasonable humans with the same needs and wants as everyone else. Treat them with proper respect and consideration, and you’ll likely get along great for years to come.

How to Be a Good Landlord

In addition to all the above rules, there are some common sense things that every landlord can do to foster great landlord-tenant relationships. These include:

  • Being responsive and timely with requests and questions
  • Always providing advanced notice to tenants when possible
  • Being courteous and respectful to your tenants, even in sticky situations

Becoming a landlord is an exciting adventure that can offer many opportunities for personal wealth advancement. If you have any questions about DC property management or becoming a landlord, contact Nomadic Real Estate today!

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Enhanced Reporting

Your portal includes a selection of extremely useful reports. Reports are available in the “Reports” section, and are distinct from the financial statements. Unlike financial statements which are static records, Reports are dynamic real-time records that will update with current data every time you view them. 

Scroll down to learn more about Reports:

Navigate to the "Reports" module in your portal:

Owner Portal Reports
  • Keep in mind, these reports are dynamic records. They will refresh to display current information every time you view them. 

Enhanced Rent Roll Report:

Enhanced Rent Roll Report
  • The Enhanced Rent Roll Report will show the rent amount, last payment date, move-in date, lease expiration date, and security deposit amount for each of your tenants. 
  • It will also show a portfolio summary with occupancy percentage, vacancy loss, and more!

Unit Comparison Report:

Unit Comparison Report
  • If you own multiple units (or buildings) with Nomadic, you’ll get access to the Unit Comparison Report. 
  • This report enables you to quickly compare financial performance between your units at a glance without toggling between individual reports. 

Income Statement Month-Over-Month:

Income Statement by Month Report
  • The Income Statement Detail – Monthly Report serves as a month-over-month record of portfolio performance. You’ll see itemized income and expense categories and can track monthly. This report will update with fresh data every time you view it. 

Financial Statements

Financial statements will be published to your portal on a monthly basis. The statements are found in your Documents library, and provide a historical record of all financial performance. The statements serve as a snapshot of financial performance over a given period, and are static documents (unlike Reports, the statements do not update/change in real-time). 

Scroll down for more info about the Financial Statements in your Documents library:

The Documents area contains monthly financial statements:

Owner Portal Documents
  • The statements in the Documents are are static documents. They are posted to the portal once a month to serve as a historical record of financial performance. 

Download a statement to see month and YTD financials:

Owner Portal Property Statement

You'll also find a month-over-month operating statement:

Month over Month Statement

Portal Communication Tool

You can use your owner portal to communicate with our team. Any messages you send through the portal will go straight to your Account Manager. When we reply, you’ll get an email notification and you’ll also see the message in your portal next time you log in. 

Here’s an overview of using the communication platform:

Click "Communications" and navigate to "Conversations":

Commincation Dashboard Screenshot
  • The communications module will contain a record of all messages that you create through the portal. 

Click the "New Message" button and send your message:

Owner Portal New Message Screenshot

Responses will show up in the conversation ticket:

Portal Conversation Response Screenshot
  • You’ll get an email notification whenever you get a response, and you’ll also see the message in your portal next time you log in. 

You can reply in-line using the comment box:

Owner Portal Comment

Each conversation will be logged in its entirety:

Portal Conversation Snapshot

Understanding the Ledger

Your portal includes a ledger with all transactions. The ledger is populated with data in real-time as transactions flow through our accounting software. Much of this information is also available in the Reports area, as well as the Statements in your Documents library, but the ledger is the most comprehensive resource for diving into the details. 

Please scroll through the sections below to get a better understanding of how to interpret the ledger. 

By default, transactions are sorted chronologically:

Owner Ledger Dates
  • The date reflected in the lefthand column is the actual transaction date, not the “bill date”. This is the date the transaction was actually processed. 

If you have multiple properties with Nomadic, you'll see the address for each transaction in the "Location" column:

Ledger Property Column
  • You can filter the ledger to look at just one property, all properties, or specific sets of properties. 
  • If you only have one property with us, you’ll just see the ledger for that property. 

The Description column displays the transaction type:

Owner Ledger Description Column
  • BILL: this is an expense transaction, such as for repair costs or management fees.
  • CHARGE: this is a transaction  billed to the tenant, most typically a rent payment. 
  • NACHA EXPORT: this is a credit we processed to your distribution account. This type of transaction is how you get paid! 

The Amount column shows the dollar value of each transaction:

Owner Ledger Amount Column
  • Positive Amounts: if an amount is positive, it reflects a transaction that is payable to you. Typically, this will be a rent payment that we collected from your tenants. On occasion, a positive number could also signify a journal entry or credit adjustment. 
  • Negative Amounts:  if an amount is negative, this is a transaction that is either payable to Nomadic or is an amount that has already been paid to you. Typically this will be for repair costs or management/leasing fees. Owner draws (net distributions into your checking/savings account) also reflect as negative amounts, since they have already been paid to you. 

The Account Balance column shows a sum of positive/negative transactions at a given point in time:

Owner Ledger Account Balance Column
  • Account Balance should always equal zero after a net distribution has been processed. When the balance is zero, this means that all expenses have been paid and you’ve received the remainder as net operating income, leaving a balance of zero (meaning: no one is due any money, as all funds have been distributed appropriately). 

Navigating the Propertyware Owner Portal

Your portal includes some extremely useful features that help you understand your property’s financial performance at a new level, with real-time transparency into every transaction.

Scroll through the snapshots below for an overview of portal navigation! If you need more help or have specific questions about using the portal, you can reach out to your Account Manager any time for a screen share. 

You can filter all info by date range or property:

PW Portal Filters

View a snapshot of income and expenses on your dashboard:

PW Owner Dashboard View

See every transaction in real-time on your ledger:

Owner Portal Ledger View

Statements and forms will be posted to your documents library:

Owner Portal Document Library

View a suite of real-time financial reports:

Portal Reports View

See a running list of all bills, and drill down for more detail:

Owner Portal Bills View

Under Bill Details, you'll find dates/descriptions/amounts and more:

Portal Bill Details

You can also communicate with your Account Manager through the portal:

Owner Portal Communication Tools

How do net distributions work?

Net distributions keep your accounting clean and simple. Each month we’ll collect rent from the tenants, deduct any repair expenses for the previous month and any management/leasing fees for the current month, and credit the remaining net operating income to your account. 

Net Distribution

You’ll receive a statement via email each time a net distribution is processed, and can view all transaction details in your Propertyware owner portal.