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July 31, 2014

A landlord’s dos and don’ts

by Kate Ashley

Several years ago, Bennie Waller gave a renter a discount on an apartment because he agreed to sign a two-year lease.

“Thirty days after he moved in, he got transferred, and he said, ‘Well, I’m going to move out’,” said Waller, 50, a real-estate professor who owns several rental properties with his wife in Virginia. He learned the hard way to add a cancelation clause. “If you walk away early, you can buy your lease out for three months’ rent.”

For Waller — and others who have taken the rental-property plunge — being a landlord comes with a sometimes steep learning curve. Sure, it can be profitable or it can be a way to keep a home or flat you don’t want to sell just yet. But there’s more involved than just purchasing a rental property and collecting a monthly payment, including finding and screening potential tenants, caring for the property itself, and handling maintenance and legal issues as they arise.


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