Whether modern American society is becoming too litigious is a point of debate. In any case, the fact remains that nearly every person who works in a professional capacity needs to be conscious of their choices and actions because the threat of a lawsuit is real. If you run your own small business, for instance, you may be personally liable if someone, whether they are an employee or just a visitor, falls and injures themselves. The lawyers that aggressively advertise themselves as being able to help a person in such a situation are sometimes be mocked, but they enable an entire substrata of the legal world that makes it difficult for some people to keep their businesses running. One thing that you can do if you are worried about the possibility of legal action is register your business as an LLC (limited liability company). This will not make it impossible for you to be personally held accountable, but it is a good first step. The reality is that every business has its own vulnerabilities (restaurants, for instance, need to be subject to demanding health guidelines) so speaking to a corporate lawyer in your area is a good idea.
However, if you are in the real estate business, there are specific rules of which you need to be aware. For example, buying a property, renovating it and then renting it out might seem like a great way to make a little extra cash but if you do not follow the laws in place that ensure these practices are fair for both parties, you could find yourself in unnecessary trouble. Firstly, when you are showing prospective tenants around a property, you have a responsibility to inform them of things that may not sway them in your favor. As an example, landlords in Maine and New York City are obligated by law to disclose if there are bed bug problems in the building. These rules do not apply in all parts of the country. If there are bed bugs in one of the properties you are hoping to lease, you should, on an ethical basis, take care of the problem before showing the place. However, if your property is clean but another in the building is not, you still have to disclose it. Failure to do so negates the legitimacy of any contract signed and also opens you up to the possibility of a lawsuit.
Appropriately dealing with your tenant’s security deposit is another area where the law is clear. So that the tenant can feel confident that they will get it back at the end of their lease period, it needs to be kept with a neutral organization like a bank or a security deposit company. Each state has its own laws governing what needs to be done in this situation so you should check to make sure, so that you do not once again open yourself up to legal proceedings. Lastly, while it is important that your tenant maintains the property while they are living in it, it is your responsibility as a landlord to fix any major problems immediately.