Skip to Content

Leasing 101: A Comprehensive Guide for Property Investors

Landlord and Tenant Discussing Lease Agreement Acquiring and owning single-family rental properties can be an exciting and satisfying investment. Unlike other types of investments, there are several factors you need to consider to successfully go from a property owner to a landlord. Suppose you are a Southampton rental property owner and are preparing to lease for the first time. Therefore, it is crucial to fully understand the basics of leasing strategies and, even more importantly, the laws that now apply to you and your renter. We’ve assembled a comprehensive guide to get you started on leasing your first property. By obeying these easy guidelines, you can make your first experience a successful one.

Renter Screening Process

One of the first and most important steps in leasing your rental property is finding the right renter. And the way to do that is to have a good tenant screening process for each applicant. You’ll need to gather information from your prospective renter to help you determine whether they are the ones you’re looking for. At a minimum, encourage them to fill out an application that contains all intended home occupants’ names and birth dates (such as those under 18), five years of employment history, and at least three past rental references. Additionally, you should obtain the Social Security numbers for all adult renters and conduct a background check on every one of them. Next, call and verify the information on their application. If necessary, get in touch with any previous landlords and get details on their renting history. It may take a while, but the more research you do before you sign that lease, the less likely you’ll get caught off guard in the future.

Avoiding Discrimination

As you advertise to and screen renters, it’s critical to prevent discriminating against potential renters, even inadvertently. Many federal laws make it unlawful to discriminate against a renter based on race, sex, color, national origin, religion, handicap, and familial status. These laws include:

  • Fair Housing Act (FHA): The Fair Housing Act (FHA) is a federal law that prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability. The FHA applies to all aspects of the rental process, including advertising, tenant selection, and terms and conditions of tenancy.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): Also covered by FHA is a federal law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities. Landlords who own multi-unit buildings of 4 units or more are necessitated to make reasonable accommodations for those with disabilities, such as giving accessible parking spaces or putting grab bars in bathrooms.
  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA): The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) is a federal law that bans discrimination against individuals 40 years of age or older. Although the ADEA is originally meant to protect employees, it also prohibits discrimination in housing based on age.
  • Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA): The Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) is a federal law prohibiting discrimination in credit transactions, including rental transactions. Under the ECOA, landlords may not discriminate against individuals based on their race, color, national origin, religion, sex, marital status, age, or because they receive public assistance.

Along with federal law, it’s recommended to research state and local law. There may be other protected classes depending on local regulations.

As you write your rental ads, avoid using language that could be construed as discrimination, such as saying you won’t rent to seniors or people with children or that you won’t rent to those who live on government assistance. Then, as you compile applications and screen renters, fairly assess your applicants based on the information they provide and not on other criteria. By sustaining professionalism and adopting an unbiased screening system, you can avoid discriminating against any potential renters.

Understanding Reasonable Accommodations

In addition, it is crucial not to assume that someone with a disability is automatically not a decent candidate for your rental property. Under the Federal Fair Housing Act, Southampton property managers are obligated to allow “reasonable accommodations” for their renters, should they be needed. By definition, a reasonable accommodation is “a change, exception, or adjustment to a rule, policy, practice, or service that may be necessary for a person with a disability to have an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling.” If your prospective renter otherwise meets the criteria for renting your property, accommodation should not be a reason to deny them. The accommodation a renter requests would be paid for and installed by the renter, with the arrangement that they will restore the property to its original condition upon move-out.

Other accommodations include letting service and emotional support animals in the rental property, even if you have a firm policy against having pets. Service and emotional support animals are excluded from a rental pet policy. You may not pay additional rent or fees if a renter retains a service animal on the property.

Being familiar with all the laws and best practices for leasing rental properties can be difficult. Why not entrust a professional property manager with this crucial task? At Real Property Management Prosperity, we provide straightforward and anti-discriminatory screening and leasing services to help our rental property owners find the most qualified renters. Contact us today or call us at 267-364-5785 to learn more.


Originally published on June 4, 2021

We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.

The Neighborly Done Right Promise

The Neighborly Done Right Promise ® delivered by Real Property Management, a proud Neighborly company

When it comes to finding the right property manager for your investment property, you want to know that they stand behind their work and get the job done right – the first time. At Real Property Management we have the expertise, technology, and systems to manage your property the right way. We work hard to optimize your return on investment while preserving your asset and giving you peace of mind. Our highly trained and skilled team works hard so you can be sure your property's management will be Done Right.

Canada excluded. Services performed by independently owned and operated franchises.

See Full Details