The Legal Insider

August 2011

8 Short Steps to Renting Out

Since the downturn of the market, more people are looking to converting basements and carriage houses into rental properties for supplemental income. In many cases, a rental property can cover as much as 90% of your mortgage payment each month.

There are a number of pitfalls when renting a property, so follow the steps below and do your research. Consulting a lawyer is never a bad idea either.

  1. Prepare the space you’re ready to rent. Check your local codes to ensure your place is up to code.
  2. Decide if your rental will be all-inclusive (utilities, parking, etc.). If your tenants are responsible for their own utilities, then you will need to get separate meters set up. Landlords can be held responsible in some cases if the tenant fails to pay their utility bills.
  3. You will want to draft a rental lease agreement. Without a rental agreement it’s much harder to resolve any disputes that arise.
  4. Selecting the type of rental lease is important as well. Most tenancies are for a set term, like a year or 6 months. But you can also create a "month to month" tenancy for greater flexibility.
  5. Determining restrictions like noise and pet rules are best outlined in the lease agreement. Include anything you want to restrict your tenant from doing.
  6. Setting the amount of rent you will charge is important. It should be relative to comparable apartments to attract a tenant.
  7. Asking for a security deposit sometimes ensures you won’t be short changed. However, there are certain restrictions and actions involved with taking a security deposit. Check you local rental laws to find out more.
  8. Your service/repair agreement should also be included in the lease. Normally, a certain period of time to fix small projects is stipulated (e.g. 2 business days).

Warranty Claims: Getting Your Car Fixed for FREE

There have been lots of “Extended Warranty Programs” from automobile dealers in the past 10 years. It shows that manufacturers stand behind their products. If you bought a car from a dealer then you likely have some kind of warranty that covers specific types of problems within a given time period or mileage.

There are 2 major types of warranties: implied and express warranties. Implied warranties exist automatically in situations like buying a car, whereas express warranties are communicated verbally or by advertisements. The normal "100,000 mile manufacturer’s warranty" is one great example of an express warranty. All new cars and trucks generally come with some type of manufacturer’s express warranty. You’re going to want to locate your warranty from the dealer to see any special stipulations.

If your automobile is under warranty but the dealer refuses to fix it, you should see a lawyer. A lawyer will be able to help advise you on the best course of action to get your car fixed. A malfunctioning car can cost big bucks in repairs and missed work.

Car Accidents Caused by Your Kids

New drivers hit the road everyday. If one of those new drivers is your 16-year-old, then you may be wondering about your liabilities and if someone could sue you for an accident caused by your teenager.

Parents can be held responsible for driving injuries caused by their teenage driver, but the injured party would have to prove that 1) the child acted in a way that caused the injuries, 2) such acts were allowed by the parents’ negligence, and 3) the child was acting as an agent of the parent at the time of the accident.

So what does “acting as an agent of the parent,” mean?

A child is considered to be acting as an agent of the parent if they are employed or carrying out family business. You could also say, the child would be acting on the parent’s request. Another component to proving the child was acting on behalf of the parent is by showing the child was operating a family car. A “family car” can be shown by parental ownership and upkeep.

If you’re interested in finding out more about auto accident lawsuits and liability, then consulting with a local lawyer is your best bet. While online guides like this can help, a seasoned local lawyer is familiar with the intricacies of filing and winning a local civil lawsuit.

Second (and Third) Marriages, Cover Your Assets

Marrying again is a big decision because it can have major affects on your finances and property rights. However, there are a few easy steps you can take to make sure your wishes are kept without offending your bride-to-be.

Wills and trusts are excellent ways to ensure your assets are distributed according to your wishes. Wills must be rewritten and notarized when you remarry because a marriage typically overrides any prior will made by a spouse. You can even will assets to your new husband or wife through the new will.

Joint ownership means that a couple can legally claim each other as a benefactor in jointly owned assets. In these situations, survivorship rights entitle the surviving (still living) spouse to all the assets after one has died.

Prenuptial agreements are handy for securing your children’s college funds and your accrued retirement. Normally, prenuptial agreements will outline an agreement that neither spouse will have a claim against the other’s assets upon divorce.

These are just three of your options for ensuring your wishes are followed. Consult a local family or estate planning lawyer who can show you other options for making sure your money and assets go where you want them to.

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