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California residents sometimes consider investing in residential real estate. While becoming a landlord is an established way of generating income, it is not without its risks. Landlord-tenant disputes can be expensive and time-consuming, but they can often be avoided by a proactive landlord.

After purchasing a building, landlords should develop consistent criteria for approving tenant applications. This reduces the risks of being accused of housing discrimination, while also protecting the landlord against a troublesome tenant. Many landlords require potential tenants to meet income and credit score requirements. It is also legitimate to request references from a prospective tenant’s previous landlords.

Landlords are also required to take reasonable steps in protecting their tenants’ safety. A landlord who hires workers to care for properties should perform background checks. If a property owner contracts with a management company, the owner should inquire as to the management company screening process for building employees and maintenance workers. Depending on the neighborhood, landlords may also want to install security cameras or other features that protect property and tenants alike.

Finally, property investors should make sure that they have sufficient insurance coverage and reserve cash to make needed repairs in a timely fashion. Landlords are responsible for keeping their properties habitable, and failure to do so can result in significant tenant conflict and the loss of rental income.

Individuals and partners considering investing in residential real estate may benefit from speaking with an experienced attorney. The lawyer may be able to make recommendations regarding the possible risks of purchasing specific properties, provide assistance in drafting leases and rental agreements, and may be able to help navigate landlord-tenant disputes.