Great Real Estate Investing Meeting at Boston AREIA with Chris Chapin from Brownstone and a bit of what you missed

  If you missed Thu night,You missed OUT!

What a phenomenal meeting we had last night at Boston AREIA!  The energy was high, the room was packed, STANDING ROOM ONLY and the presenters were awesome!  Check out the pics below.  Dickens did a fantastic job with the market update and really engaging folks in the know to interpret the trends that we are seeing in the market.  It was amazing to see what the petitions for foreclosure are doing and hearing from folks in the room had to say.  The main focus seemed to be that the 3 year bubble on the HARP  (Home Affordable Refinance Program) timelines are coming up and guess what?  People still can’t afford the mortgage, so we will be seeing more foreclosures happening over the next few months.  Big shout out to Rob and Alison Loiselle on getting their website up and running.  Check out this blog post covering a checklist for home buyers!  We have so many folks taking action, it’s so exciting!    

I was so excited to see Kim Harrington with Brownstone RG!  She didn’t talk much in front of the room, but, I know that she was sought after during networking.  Chris Parker with YP came back to discuss how YP can take your business to the next level.  He invited everyone to come to the Free Lunch and Learn on Fri, March 27th at the YP offices over at 10 Cabot Rd in Medford.  The event is 12-2 and is focused on driving leads to your website, branding and creating market awareness of how you can help all these people who are struggling with their mortgages (as pointed out in Dickens presentation).  There is very limited seating and the room is over half full already.  So RSVP with me at to reserve your seat ASAP!  He also let me know that he may be giving away another $5k in advertising at next month’s meeting.  It was great to see Felicha LaForest win the $5k in advertising last month, I can’t believe that they may do this again!  How lucky are the members of Boston AREIA?

If you missed Thursday’s meeting, you MISSED OUT!  But, I did take some notes.  The notes are really focused on the number of ways you can source deals.  Some of the ways mentioned include MLS, Realtors, Networking, Banks, Wholesalers, Friends, Short sales, Bird dogs, Classified Ads, Attorneys, FSBO Sites, CPA’s, Mortgage Brokers, Other Service Providers, Bandit signs, flyers, direct mail, Mailman, radio ads, pre-foreclosure lists, actions, divorce, estate sales, new home builders, absentee owners, for rent signs, contractors, property managers, vatious letter campaigns, other “I Buy House” signs, social networking and many more.  Chris did a great job talking about what to do when you find one, but, that’s a blog post of it’s own.  He also talked about an incredible educational opportunity for real estate investors!  It’s an all day event with Brownstone!  To learn how you can save $100 on this event and how Brownstone can help you put all the pieces together READ ALL HERE!

So, my website company Thrivehive did a great training on FB and marketing through FB.  For those of you who are marketing your business on FB, you may want to check this out –  As Adam says in the training, FB is one of the cheapest ways to get your business in front of your target audience.  I watched and of course took action and placed some ads afterwards.  We will see how it goes.

Be sure to come to the Rehab Tour in Carver on April 4th.  At our April 16th meeting, we will begin a rehabbing series prior to the main speaker.  For the next few months Chris Coute, with Brownstone RG will do a 20 min – 1/2 hour session going through the stages of a rehab.  He will focus on a different area (finding, funding, evaluating, the rehab, resale) each month and/or will go over a current rehab project.  I’m excited about this added value to the members and attendees.

        Standing room only!  Gotta love it – see you at an even soon!

Bernadette Trafton, Boston AREIA Chief Connector



Adventures of a 14 year old real estate investor!

  How cool is it…

When you see young people striving to learn what many are learning at the ages of 30, 40, 50 or more!  Check out Adventures of a 14 year old real estate investor to whom I recently became a real estate investing coach!

Hey everyone! Recently my mom and I started a joint business venture called Be Set Real Estate Solutions. I’m here to talk to you about our adventures and hardships we will endure to build a college fund and passive income for my sisters and I.

My mom has been interested in real estate for years now. She said she always wanted to start a real estate business, but was waiting on a reliable business partner. When she brought up this idea to me, at first, I thought she had gone crazy, but after a while I realized what a great opportunity this was. On top of an amazing experience I am able to help myself and my sisters make it to college.

The first step we took starting our business was joining Boston AREIA, a real estate investors group. We signed up for 2 sessions of coaching from Bernadette Trafton. Our first meeting with her was very educational and helped me learn more about real estate as a whole. She helped us find a general direction to go in before our first Boston AREIA meeting. I was surprised at how inviting the group was to us and, once again, how much we learned. After the Boston AREIA meeting we figured out our current goals. We had decided that we wanted to start our real estate investing careers with wholesaling. Our longer term goal was to build up enough profit to purchase a multi-family home for us to move into and rent out. We have been working tirelessly towards our goals for a couple of weeks now and are proud to say we have already made a few offers on houses and my mom has enrolled in classes to become a real estate agent.

On a more personal note, I was worried at first of people’s acceptance of a 14 year old boy entering the world of real estate. I was expecting most people to be skeptical about my abilities to make offers, run a business and even comprehend all the information needed to complete these tasks. To my surprise everyone I have met so far has been very encouraging and helpful. Although I still have a lot to learn I feel as though I am up to the task of completing the work I have committed myself to accomplishing.

Wish me luck!

  • Zyon

Make sure you visit Be Set Real Estate Solutions to read all of Zyon and Terri’s posts!


Diary of a Newbie Real Estate Investor

  So, lots of things are going on where newbie real estate investors are concerned.  There are some new real estate coaching students that have started with Boston AREIA!  I’m looking forward to let you know about some deals that are in the works at our Networking Extravaganza on Thursday night! 

I’m really excited about some things that Mike and Jacqui with Fitz Property are working on!  They are on the hunt for more deals!!!  Make sure you read the whole article because Mike and Jacqui are doing the REVEAL of their first rehab project – the final rehab tour on Thursday, October 9th!

On the Hunt Again – Short Sales and Off Market Deals

So last weekend Peg of JEM Property Group and I met with a seller that is considering a short sale. This lead has been in the works for over a year. I actually lived in this house with a group of friends and started thinking about strategies to buy the house when would receive postcards and flyers sent to the homeowner to get in touch about helping stopping foreclosures. And when the town Sherriff showed up to serve the homeowner we knew something was not right. Despite the strange activities, the house has avoided foreclosure and is still in the owner’s possession.

Recently the homeowner responded to one of my messages expressing interest in buying the property. Peg and I went and checked out the property and met with the owner. Peg explained her experience working with short sales and helped explain the process to the homeowner. We were aiming to find out from the homeowner how much is owed on the mortgage, details on any federal, state, and town liens, any cross collateralization, and/or other liens. The homeowner was open with us and explained that there is a lot of “baggage” associated with the property. Due to time constraints we were unable to get all the details during our meeting, however Peg provided me a list of questions that I have provided to the homeowner to better understand exactly what is going on with the property so that we can be comfortable making an offer.

Currently we are waiting for the homeowner to respond!

If we are able to move forward with this project it will be my first short sale, however it would also be a great opportunity to partner with Peg and learn all about how these deals work. This house needs a significant amount of work, but is in one of the premier zip codes of the Greater Boston Area and has a potential ARV of over $1M.

Hopefully we hear back soon, we are anxious for our next rehab project as the Framingham rehab project is wrapping up. We are also looking at some off market some multi-family properties in the Worcester area in the next few weeks. We hope to re-invest in a multi-family as soon as the Framingham rehab sells. If you are a wholesaler or have knowledge of any off-market leads please get in touch with us we would love to work with you!

Also, we are going to do our final reveal and rehab tour on Thursday, October 9th at 6:30pm at 26 McAdams, Framingham, MA and to get all the ins and outs, we will be doing a Rehab overview – House of the month at the October 16th Boston AREIA meeting!

Mike & Jacqui

Self-Directed IRAs and Alternative Investments: What You Should Know

There has been much discussion lately in the financial world regarding the popularity alternative investments are gaining. A viable alternative investment can potentially score higher gains at a faster pace than more traditional methods may. Self-directed IRAs are also getting recognition, as these accounts allow a very large pool of asset types not available in the typical IRA. Why? Because, the average IRA custodian limits investors to options they sell which are typically the more traditional options such as stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. Those who use these custodians are comfortable allowing their account managers to pick and choose investments for them—from the limited, traditional offerings on the firm’s menu.

A self-directed IRA administrator like AdvantaIRA serves individuals who want to control their own investment funds and make their own investment choices. These are people who take an avid interest in their retirement portfolios and are actively participating in making sure their financial futures are secure. These individuals understand they can invest outside of the box and refuse to be tied down by inexperience, fear, or tradition.

Since their inception in 1975, self-directed IRAs have steadily become the savvy investor’s choice to build wealth for retirement. While self-direction may seem like a lot to grasp especially if you’ve never participated in choosing your own investments before—the premise is actually fairly simple: invest in what you know best. And, in the world of alternative investments you can surely find a few options you are familiar with.

This does not mean ditch the stocks, bonds and mutual funds you may already have; simply add to them or redistribute the assets in your current portfolio to include a comfortable percentage of both traditional and alternative assets. After all, diversity is a key element of success for any investment portfolio. When it comes to alternative investments, diversification opportunities are nearly endless.

If your background is in real estate perhaps acquiring property for resale or rental income would be your niche. If your business acumen is spot-on you might consider exploring the world of private placements, invest in a business, an LLC, or trying your hand at private lending opportunities such as loans and mortgages. You want to raise cows or chickens or Arabian horses to earn money towards retirement? Go for it. You might be a foreign exchange or futures trading guru, a precious metals buff, or a stock market wizard—all of these assets and many more are permissible within self-directed IRAs.

Other examples of alternative investments include:

  • Oil and gas opportunities
  • Accounts receivable
  • Timber rights and options
  • Alpaca farms
  • Heavy equipment trading
  • Tax liens and certificates
  • Secured and unsecured notes

The list goes on…

The only things not allowed in self-directed accounts are life insurance contracts and collectibles. Other than that, the possibilities are really quite endless provided they fall within IRS regulations.

You can even partner your IRA funds with another IRA or individual for the purpose of acquiring an asset your account could not afford on its own. Provided you are not doing business with disqualified persons or performing a prohibited transaction these types of investments can be very advantageous.

It is important that you perform due diligence in all realms of self-directing your retirement accounts. Choosing the right administrator is just as important as consulting with knowledgeable professionals such as a financial advisor or certified public accountant to ensure your account operates in compliance with regulations. Once you have the key players in place, you should fully vet all elements of each investment you consider.

If an investment opportunity comes your way but you do not know much about it, you can learn! Advanta IRA offers webinars and live seminars designed specifically to teach investors of all levels about self-direction and the world of alternative investments. These courses are offered at no cost to attendees—the goal simply being to empower participants who want to take control of their own retirement funds and learn more about how self-directed IRAs work. The benefits can be plenty, but there are risks involved, as well. However, the more you know, the better you are able to achieve the financial freedom you desire upon retirement.

For more information about this article or if you would like to learn more about self-directed plans, please contact Kevin Collins at AdvantaIRA Trust by calling (617) 830-1070 or email


Diary of a Newbie Real Estate Investor

Hi folks, I feel like we might need to change the title of this blog post!  Mike and Jacqui are quickly moving past the newbie real estate investor stage to the “Got a Rehab Under our Belts” stage.  I love seeing people become successful in real estate investing!  Nothing puts a bigger smile on my face than seeing folks rewarded for their effort.  I know the hours have been long and hard between work and the rehab…but, I just got this latest post from them for their 26 McAdams, Framingham rehab project:

2 weeks to go!

Hi Boston AREIA,

Thanks to everyone who made it out to our rehab tour a few weeks ago. We had a great discussion about how to find deals, working with hard money lenders, creating a scope of work, and managing contractors.

The work at 26 McAdams Rd, is “knock on wood”, moving along right on schedule. As we are rounding out week 7 of the 9 week renovation timeline we have passed all required inspections and are moving forward with the remaining work items. To give you an extent of what we have completed and what is still to be done see the list below:

Completed Work Items

Pending Work Items

  • Demo/remove sellers belongings
  • Clear landscaping
  • Update plumbing for first floor full bath and half bath
  • Add basement bathroom
  • Update plumbing from water main
  • Install replacement windows
  • Build deck
  • Install vinyl siding, soffits, fascia, and gutters
  • Increase opening, install steel beam
  • Create vaulted ceiling in living area
  • Frame out basement living area, bathroom, bonus room, and storage area
  • Blueboard all walls first floor and basement
  • Plaster all walls first floor and basement
  • Update insulation
  • Install tile in first floor bathrooms
  • Install hardwood floors in kitchen
  • Install cabinets
  • Template kitchen countertops
  • Install first floor vanity
  • Pass all inspections except final
  • Install countertops
  • Install vanities and Finish recess lighting
  • Finish electrical
  • Finish plumbing bathroom fixtures
  • Install tile and carpet in basement
  • Install new interior doors
  • Trim out all interior doors/windows/floor
  • Paint interior and foundation
  • Refinish and stain hardwood floors
  • Finish exterior lights
  • Install exterior doors
  • Finish landscaping
  • Pass final inspection
  • Other punch list items


Some Lessons Learned So Far:

  • Make sure you have money available to pay contractors as banks and hard money loans typically only pay when the work is completed, not started.
  • Know the difference between replacement windows and new construction windows. Don’t buy replacement windows if you are going to be replacing the siding on the house.
  • Network with other investors for recommendations on vendors and contractors. Peg from JEM Property Group shared some great contacts for us when it came to finding a contractor for the windows and cabinets. We also got our Granite reference from another flipper working on a house down the street from ours. These references have no doubt saved us time and money!

We are targeting the week of 22 Sep to have the rehab work completed, stay tuned for an invite from Bernadette for an upcoming rehab tour where we will provide more details about the McAdams Rd project.  To check out some of the pics of the project and the last rehab tour visit –

Hope to hear from you soon,







Diary of Newbie Real Estate Investors

   I’ve been having a blast these past 2 weeks!

A group of folks signed up for the membership and are getting 2 free coaching sessions to get them started in their business.  The sessions have been great and I’m hearing some great stories.  The first person I met with was Joseph.  We went over his goals, the importance of working with an investor SAVVY Realtor vs an investor FRIENDLY Realor.  All Realtors are investor friendly, not all know how to run the numbers and look at properties the way investors do.  It’s not their fault.  They’ve never been taught or never really learned.  So, when you find one that is savvy, hold on to them and work with them.  I made some connections for Jospeh and we had another meeting where he brought me listing and comps for properties.  What he presented wasn’t really comps, they were area trends and where the market is going.  There were no real listings, so we talked about how to look at comps, what you need to compare, etc.  He told me that they were looking at properties where they could do a condo conversion.  We talked about how it worked in some areas and not in others.  I followed up with some instructions and then I got a call from Joseph telling me about what he called, “I got a story for your Diary of a Newbie Real Estate Investor thing.”  And, he proceeded to tell me, “So, we set up a time to go look at what could possible be a condo conversion in Haverhill.”  I said, “Oh…it would depend on what part of Haverhill, there are parts along the river going towards Merrimac that are nice, but, as you get closer to downtown the worst it seems to get.”  He continued, “Yeah, well, we go over and this more the downtown area and I realize that maybe this isn’t the right side of town for this, but, we went in and we thought we heard some noises.  We saw a computer sitting on the table.  So, I’m thinking there were squatters there…so, I got a little nervous not knowing what to expect.  So, then we go upstairs to look at the other unit and there was stuff sitting out and it was obvious someone was there.  We couldn’t see anyone, but, you could just tell.  So, I said…look this isn’t a good area for this, lets just get out of here.  So, we left because I didn’t know if there was someone hanging out in the closets.”  Just goes to show you, be prepared for any possibility when you are going to look at a vacant (or supposed to be vacant) property.  If there were squatters, I bet he scared the heck out of them!  :-)

Then, I was talking to Dianne.  I had some technical difficulties with Google Hangouts.  She couldn’t hear me and was very patient which I was thankful for!  Google Hangouts sounds like a great idea, but, I can’t seem to get the mic to work right.  If anyone has any tips let me know.  Finally we decided on a call.  We had a great call talking about how you find properties, as a Realtor she needs to disclose that she is when putting in offers.  She was prepared for the call and had a ton of questions.  We talked about how people do business with people they know like and trust.  So, you have remember that when talking to people.  Through our conversation, she had some aha moments about a property she is working on that’s not on the market yet.  It might just turn out to be a deal.  If it turns out that way….we will celebrate!

I’m personally working on a deal in Groveland.  It’s a nice house with good bones.  It needs some work.  There are some interesting things with the property, like a reverse mortgage and an estate that we have to navigate through.  I am working on getting it under contract, so keep your fingers crossed for me. 

Then I met with Vito, who is super motivated to get his business going.  Vito, like the others has aggressive, yet doable goals.  He is also a Broker, so he has a working knowledge of how real estate works, how to put in offers and put together contracts.  

I met via Skype with Kern and we talked about FEAR.  There are a few ways to look at the word fear.  .  The first is where you are confused, nervous about losing your deposit money, nervous about how to write an offer or really don’t understand a contract and because of that you are paralyzed, don’t take action and then you Forget Everything And Run.  The second is where you are confused, nervous about losing your deposit money, nervous about how to write an offer or really don’t understand a contract and you get on the internet research, you pick up the phone and call a seasoned investor and instead of being paralyzed you Face Everything And Rise.  It’s simply a decision.  You just have to make the decision to chose one over the other.  Inaction do to the first fear is what causes most folks to be unsuccessful in real estate.  We then talked about the areas he wants to work with, set some goals and we discussed how to get his marketing set up and more. 

Mike and Jacqui are moving forward on their first rehab.  I believe it will be done soon and I hope we have enough time to do a reveal tour of the property in Framingham.  They have been hyper focused on getting the rehab completed.  Stay tuned!

I am getting deals coming across from many investors and it’s getting super exciting!  They are putting up badit signs, driving for dollars, getting their website producing leads and more.  Marketing is where it all begins...if you can’t find deal to put under contract, the rest of it doesn’t matter.  See you at the upcoming meeting on September 18th!

Yours in success!  DESIRE!  COMMIT!  SUCCEED!

Bernadette Trafton, Boston AREIA Chief Connector!

8/21, meeting recap, real estate deals and more

​​  Good morning folks!  What an awesome meeting we had at Boston AREIA last week!  I’m so excited about everyone who was there.  I did promise to put out a link with the PEP TALK from Kid President that Alex and Kathy wanted to share last night.  I really need to get speakers to attach to my computer!  But, I did want to give you the link to listen to it, Kid President is awesome!  The link is , listen, get motivated and enjoy! I also wanted to share the link that my nephew Chris Parker wanted us to hear discussing the partnership that his company has with Google.  I don’t know about you, but, I was excited by his presentation!  If you want to know more about how we are driving more leads and deals, contact me and ask.

Alex and Kathy wanted to make sure that I got you all the list of Direct mail providers, SCROLL DOWN FOR A COUPLE OF WHOLESALE DEALS!

1)      Tax Lien – or do it yourself

2)      Probate – Compile yourself or get from or

3)      Inherited Property –Do it yourself or

4)      Absentee Owners – Start with out of state owners –

5)      Free & Clear –

6)      Fire damaged – Fire Dept in the town you are looking in

7)      Building code violations – Building Dept of the town you are looking in

8)      Divorce –

9)      Bankruptcy –,, or Banker & Tradesman

10)   Foreclosure –,, or Banker & Tradesman

WHOLESALE DEAL:  Sudbury, MA – 4 bed/2bath property, (it is a co-wholesale for us). Here are the figures:  Buy-in = $370k, Estimatied repairs Repairs to bring to a 5 bed/3 bath (Title V cleared for 5 bed) = $210k.  General Contractor who drew the plan available to do the work – I also have the plans and they look really nice!  ARV  $775,000;  Property Address: 47 Fairbank Road, Sudbury, MA.   The deal is going fast, and the property must move! This is a co-wholesale for us and you must get to me before Wednesday, August 27 if interested, and have $19.5 to put in as a down payment. The deal must be cash!  Contact:  Richard and Connie Shulman (508)-372-0326,

WHOLESALE DEAL: 23 VFW Parkway, Revere. Walking distance to Wonderland T. Near proposed Casino. Price $175. Rehab $200 (Fire-damaged, gut rehab) ARV $450 as a 2-family* I HAVE A SOBER HOUSE BUSINESS WHO IS DROOLING TO RENT THE ENTIRE PROPERTY AND PAY $4,500/MONTH, PAY ALL UTILITIES INCLUDING PUBLIC ELECTRIC AND WATER & SEWER, SHOVEL SNOW, TAKE OUT TRASH, ETC. NO MANAGEMENT $ FOR YOU, SELF-MANAGING AND NO VACANCY!!! THIS BUSINESS IS A CURRENT TENANT OF MINE IN ANOTHER PROPERTY AND I VOUCH FOR THEIR INTEGRITY. *this is a 3000 + sqft home zoned mixed use, commercial/residential. Though the sober house business will be happy to occupy it as-is, I started the rezoning process with an attorney because by converting it to a legal 2-family it will appraise higher after the rehab for a cash-out refi, and in general I feel the highest and best use for the property were it not used for a sober house would be as a two family. Attorney is confident it can be rezoned. I can share his opinion letter. 2 floors/units with 2 bathrooms and 4 bedrooms on each floor plus huge livable walk-out basement with 1 bathroom. (Sober house owner has walked through property and will use basement only for weight room, meeting room, etc, not for bedrooms). In my opinion this is a buy and hold. It will be a cash cow of $2000/month with the sober house and Revere is an appreciating rental market even without a casino going in. I have 3 other projects on my plate and want to unload this. Contact me for more details 617-820-9972 _______________________________________

Why Real Estate Investors Choose to Use Roth IRAs

Roth IRAs are perhaps one of the most attractive retirement accounts available. Contributions are made after taxation—and the income earned accrues on a tax-free basis. This means that when you reach retirement age, provided that you’ve owned the account for five years or more, distributions made on contributions and earnings are not taxed at the time of withdrawal. AdvantaIRA clients who choose this type of retirement account are betting that the taxation rate will be higher in the future than it is today.

There are a few other unique differences between Roth IRAs and more traditional IRA accounts:

  • Contributions can continue after you reach the age of 70 1/2
  • There are no minimum distribution requirements when you reach the age of 70 1/2
  • When you reach the age of 59 1/2 and have owned the Roth IRA for at least 5 years, you are allowed to take tax-free distributions on the contributions and earnings

Additionally, a Roth account can be self-directed. Investors choose to self-direct IRAs and other savings plans because they gain complete control over their funds and choose their own investments to build wealth towards retirement. The most appealing benefit of self-directed accounts is their ability to hold many alternative investments as assets. While these accounts can still invest in the traditional stock, bond and mutual fund, true diversity in retirement portfolios can be attained from a plethora of alternative investments available for self-directed plans.

Alternative investments include:

  • Real estate
  • Tax liens and certificates
  • Private lending opportunities
  • Precious metals
  • Oil and gas options
  • LLCs, LLPs and trusts
  • Foreign exchange and futures trading

These are only a few of the more popular alternative investments permissible in self-directed accounts—and all of these options and more can be held in a self-directed Roth IRA. In fact, the list of alternative investments is so extensive that the IRS only defines certain things that are not allowed in these accounts: life insurance contracts and collectibles.

Roth IRAs came into being through the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997. Initially, only those under a certain income level could benefit from owning this type of retirement account. But, due to a change in IRS rules, no income cap now exists for those wishing to convert a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA. Individuals of all ages who earn an income are able to own this kind of plan, and may contribute provided their income does not exceed the set limits.

For the year 2014, you can contribute to a self-directed Roth IRA if you have taxable income and your modified adjusted gross income is less than:

  • Married individuals filing jointly:  $191,000
  • Single or head of household:  $129,000
  • Married, filing separate returns:  $10,000

It is important that you research all elements of any retirement account before making a choice that is right for you. While Roth accounts may be the perfect choice for many investors—they may not be the perfect choice for everyone. There are additional requirements that you should be aware of. More information can be found by visiting our Roth IRA web site page.

 We can help you perform your own due diligence. AdvantaIRA is a self-directed account administrator but we do not sell investments or give advice on what investments you should choose. However, we do offer many free seminars and webinars designed to empower investors of all ages in the realm of choosing self-directed retirement accounts and the alternative investments allowed in these plans. View our event calendar to find a class you would like to attend to learn more about taking control of your own retirement funds. AdvantaIRA events cover many topics, including Roth IRAs.

For information regarding this article, please contact Kevin Collins of AdvantaIRA Trust, LLC by calling (617) 830-1070 or email him at

Ten Most Common Tenant Rights of which Landlords Should be Aware

This article has been submitted by

Renters today know their legal rights more than ever before, and even when they don’t, easy access to online information regarding tenant rights is everywhere. With that said, it’s important for landlords to know if and when their behaviors constitute a violation of these rights. How well do you know the rights of the tenants to whom you rent? Engaging in practices that violate the rights of your tenants is a sure way to get yourself invited to the landlord-tenant party held daily in a courthouse near you.

Landlord-tenant laws are specific to each state and local jurisdiction, however there are some basic rights held by all tenants. Familiarizing yourself with ten of the most common tenant rights is a great place to begin.

Tenants everywhere in the US and Canada were given the right to not be discriminated against when the U.S. Fair Housing laws and Canadian Human Rights Act were passed more than 40 years ago. The original laws protected citizens from being discriminated against based on their race, color, religion, sex or national origin, but many more classifications have been added both to the Federal laws as well as to individual state and province laws since that time. Landlords throughout the U.S. and Canada must know who is protected under these laws and make it a practice to treat everyone fairly to avoid any potential violations.

Similarly, every tenant is afforded the right to a habitable and safe environment which essentially means the rental home should be in decent, livable conditions with a sound structure, running water, heat and electricity. Though most landlords get this, some so-called ‘slumlords’ fail miserably at this one in particular and pay a hefty price for doing so.

Landlords often find themselves struggling with the tenant’s right to the return of the security deposit when there is no major damage caused by them. Often clarification is needed regarding what is normal wear and tear and what is considered ‘damage’ caused by the tenants. To be clear, landlords should consider the amount of time a tenant has been in the home as well as what kinds of items require repairs and the extent to which they are in disrepair. For example, upon lease expiration of a 3 year term, landlord finds that the carpet in the home is worn flat and appears dirty. This would be considered normal wear and tear for a three year lease period. If given the same scenario, landlord was to find that the carpet had holes or was badly stained in areas; this would be considered damage for which the landlord could charge. Another example of normal wear and tear would be bi-fold closet doors off their hinges versus completely broken closet doors with missing hinges or missing doors altogether. This latter scenario would definitely be considered damage.

One of the areas where landlords find themselves having the most difficulty is with the tenant’s right to be provided notice before entry. This is usually the case with new landlords who have a hard time seeing the home as anything other than their own which they believe gives them the right to enter anytime for any reason. Tenants have the right in all cases to what is sometimes referred to as ‘quiet enjoyment’. This means, among other things, that landlords cannot just show up whenever they’d like. In most cases, landlords are required to provide tenants with at least a 24 hour notice. This should be addressed in the lease agreement and strictly adhered to. Of course, in the case of an emergency, that right no longer applies.

A number of states accommodate tenant’s right to a limited amount charged for Security deposits. It may be enticing for landlords to want to charge an astronomical amount to a tenant he/she views as a major risk, however doing so will likely land you before a judge or magistrate in a local courtroom. It’s a better idea to simply charge the maximum allowed and ensure you have an airtight lease or just forego renting to the prospect altogether. Other states and provinces have no stated limit, but landlords must familiarize themselves with whether or not their cities and counties have imposed limits before deciding what to charge. Most states and provinces with limits prescribe an amount equal to 1-2 months’ rent maximum.

A tenant’s right to a landlord’s assistance in mitigating the loss of rental income is seen by many landlords as one of the most egregious and unfair laws on the books. When a landlord loses rental income as a result of tenants’ early lease termination, the landlord is required to make every effort to find a new renter to replace the income. No landlord in this circumstance is allowed to hold the existing tenant fully responsible for remainder of lease term without making every attempt to mitigate the loss in their own behalf. Of course, the tenant is required to do the same and can be held responsible for months not covered by a new tenant. Landlords who are unaware of this tenant right may find themselves with near career-ending fines if a judge should award treble damages.

The right to have repairs made in a timely fashion is another area where some landlords may fall short. Even with the best of intentions, ‘timely’ can mean different things to landlords and tenants. When a repair isn’t made as promptly as a tenant wishes, landlords can find themselves at odds with a tenant. This can easily be avoided in most cases by defining in the lease when repairs should be expected (i.e. 24 – 72 hours for non-emergency repairs). Open communication with the tenant about what to expect beyond what is found in the lease can help in these situations as well. Landlords should be clear at all times that they are doing their best to accommodate tenants concerns and requests and every effort should be made to do so.

Landlords may not be aware of tenant’s right to non-payment of attorney fees associated with eviction. In fact, in many states, it is illegal to charge such fees to tenants. Litigation is expensive, but in most cases should simply be considered the cost of doing business. Thus the reason it is so important to secure good tenants in the first place.

Tenants everywhere have the right to have their property returned to them even when they are considered to have ‘abandoned’ the property. Again, another area where landlords can fall short based solely on instinct and ignorance of the law. Landlords cannot afford to let the desire to be rid of a bad tenant once and for all get the best of them by moving all of tenant’s belongings out on the street or including them in a Saturday morning garage sale. Each state and province has specific laws on how tenant’s belongings are to be handled upon lease termination or abandonment. Landlords should be careful to follow these laws to the letter or suffer the consequences.

Most landlords know that all tenants have the right to be free from retaliation once things have gone south between the two parties, but what you might not know is what exactly constitutes retaliation. In most cases, things like refusing repairs, shutting off utilities or outright evicting a tenant after a dispute or official reporting by a tenant is considered a retaliatory act and will not bode well in court should your tenant pursue legal action against you for it.

This list of the ten most common rights landlords tend to overlook or are unaware of is in no way exhaustive. Landlords are encouraged to read and re-read the Landlord-Tenant handbooks provided by every state and province for more specific rights pertaining to your own state and local areas. Knowing your tenants rights as well as they do will likely keep you in good standing with them and generally makes for a much better working relationship.

Edwina Davis is a regular contributor to and co-owner of a property management company based out of Maryland.


Kris Whitehead, from Think to Succeed, Come to BostonAREIA

Kris Whitehead from Think to Succeed will come to help you get to the next level in real estate! Do you find that you know what to do, but you just don’t do it? Kris will be closing the gab on Thursday March 21st at the Boston AREIA monthly meeting. Networking 5:30 pm ; Meeting 6:30 pm; Crowne Plaza, 320 Washington St., Newton, MA