Skip to Content

Leasing 101: A Comprehensive Guide for Property Investors

Landlord and Tenant Discussing Lease Agreement Purchasing and owning single-family rental properties can be an enjoyable and lucrative investment. Unlike other types of investments, there are numerous aspects you must understand to successfully go from a property owner to a landlord. Suppose you are a Round Rock rental property owner getting ready to lease for the first time. In this instance, 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 have compiled a comprehensive guide to get you started on leasing your first property. By adhering to these easy guidelines, your first experience will be a good one.

Renter Screening Process

One of the first and most critical tasks in leasing your rental property is selecting a suitable renter. And the way to achieve this is by implementing a good tenant screening process for each applicant. You will need to collect information from your prospective renter to establish whether they are the ones you’re looking for. At a minimum, request that they fill out an application that includes all intended home occupants’ names and birth dates (including those under 18), five years of employment history, and at least three past rental references. You’ll also want to collect Social Security numbers for all adult renters and run a background check on each one. Then, call and verify the information on their application. If at all possible, approach any previous landlords and get details on their renting history. The more research you do before you sign that lease, even if it takes some time, the less likely you are to discover unpleasant surprises in the future.

Avoiding Discrimination

As you advertise to and screen renters, it’s essential to avoid discriminating against potential renters, even by accident. Multiple federal laws make it illegal 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 covers 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 demanded to make reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities, like providing accessible parking spaces or adding grab bars in bathrooms.
  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA): The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) is a federal law that disallows discrimination against individuals 40 years of age or older. Although the ADEA is primarily intended 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.

Besides federal law, you need to research state and local law. There may be other protected classes depending on local regulations.

As you compose your rental ads, avoid using language that could be regarded as discrimination, such as announcing that you will not rent to seniors or people with children or that you won’t rent to those who live on government assistance. Next, when you gather applications and screen renters, fairly assess your applicants based on the information they provide and not on other criteria. By keeping professionalism and employing an unbiased screening system, you can stay clear of discriminating against any potential renters.

Understanding Reasonable Accommodations

Furthermore, it is essential not to assume that someone with a disability is automatically not a suitable candidate for your rental property. Under the Federal Fair Housing Act, Round Rock property managers are expected to provide “reasonable accommodations” for their renters, if necessary. 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 turn them away. The accommodation a renter requests would be paid for and installed by the renter, with the condition that they will return the property to its original condition upon move-out.

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

It can be difficult to know all the laws and best practices for leasing rental properties. Why not delegate this crucial responsibility to a professional property manager? At Real Property Management Advisors, we provide clear and anti-discriminatory screening and leasing services to assist our rental property owners in finding the finest potential renters. Contact us today or call us at 512-777-2597 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