Navigating Local Laws & Regulations: How to Stay Compliant in Jackson, Mississippi Property Management

As a landlord, you already have a lot on your plate when it comes to leasing, managing, and maintaining your investment. From screening tenants to performing repairs, your to-do list can seem never-ending at many points in the tenancy.

One of the things that you may not think about all the time is staying compliant with local laws and regulations. This can be another challenge for property owners, especially if they’re unclear on what’s required. 

In Jackson, Mississippi, rental property owners are required to follow all state and federal laws as well as local ordinances that pertain to your investment property. Remaining in compliance is non-negotiable if you want to avoid legal issues.

We do an excellent job of following the laws so that you don’t have to. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most important laws and regulations you need to follow when renting out a property in Jackson. 

 

Do your Due Diligence and Research Local Laws

Before you can even begin to stay compliant with local laws and regulations in Jackson, you need to know what they are. This means doing a bit of research up front. Start by checking the Jackson city website for any relevant ordinances or regulations that apply to your rental property. You’ll especially want to pay attention to habitability standards and building codes.

From there, you can also consider reaching out to a local Jackson property management company for help and support. If you know you cannot possibly stay up to date on all the laws that you’ll be responsible for following, a management partner can protect you and your investment by helping you avoid legal landmines. 

 

Put Together a Strong Lease Agreement

To protect your legal rights and those of your residents, you’ll want to have a lease agreement in place that’s both legally compliant in the state of Mississippi and legally enforceable. A good lease will enable you to have a smooth tenancy. 

Unless your lease agreement establishes a specific term, the binding lease agreement will either be month-to-month or week-to-week. We typically recommend you put together a lease that’s at least a period of one year. 

A good lease will include: 

 

  • - Contact and identifying information for the landlord, the tenant, any other occupants (such as minors) and the property manager, if applicable.

  • - Address of the rental property and a brief description (is it a single family home or a unit in an apartment building?). 
  •  
  • - Amount of rent and rent collection policy
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  • - Information on the amount and nature of the security deposit and other deposits.
  •  
  • - Lease term.
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  • -Responsibilities around utilities and maintenance.

Before your tenant takes occupancy of the property, create a move-in condition inspection report so you can document the condition of the rental home. Give your tenants the opportunity to add to it. This will be an important legal document at the end of the lease, when your tenant has moved out and you’re trying to decide whether the maintenance work that’s needed is due to property damage or normal wear and tear. 

 

Maintenance and Habitability Requirements 

When it comes to maintaining the rental property, it’s the landlord’s responsibility. You’ll have to follow all local building and housing codes and take care of the property’s heating, plumbing, cooling, and electrical systems. You need to be sure there’s hot water and electricity available to your tenants. 

However, you are not responsible for repairing the damage that’s caused by your tenant’s negligence. If their abuse, misuse, or neglect causes something to break, they are responsible for fixing it. 

Tenants have their own requirements. You can expect them to keep the property clean. When they dispose of garbage properly, change air filters regularly, and keep fixtures and systems clean and operational, there are fewer emergency repairs that you’ll have to respond to. 

What happens when repairs aren’t made by the landlord? 

If a landlord fails to make the necessary requested repairs, tenants can submit a written notice. That notice should cite your responsibilities according to the lease and the law. If the repairs are not made within 30 days of the tenants providing that notice, the tenants can make the repairs themselves and seek reimbursement from you. They are not legally permitted to withhold rent, but they can submit receipts and invoices to you within 45 days of the work being done. 

 

Collecting Rent and Enforcing Your Lease 

You’re legally permitted to evict your tenant when rent is not paid or the lease is violated or there’s criminal activity discovered at the property. You’re not required to allow a grace period when it comes to collecting rent, unless you state in your lease agreement that there is a grace period or you and your tenant agree to one. 

The law in Mississippi allows landlords to place a lien or make a claim against a tenant’s personal property when rent is not paid. However, when the tenant cures the default and pays what is owed of the rent, they are entitled to the return of their property. 

You’re only permitted to increase the rent at the end of the lease term, when the lease is renewing. Tenants need at least 30 days of notice. 

 

Mississippi Security Deposit Laws

In Mississippi, the tenant who leaves your property must request the return of their security deposit from you. You’ll have 45 days from the end of the tenancy to return the deposit to your tenant. You can keep the deposit, or part of it, if you notice: 

  • Rental balances. If the tenant didn’t pay the last month of rent or they only partially paid or there are overdue late fees from a few months earlier, you can use the security deposit to bring that tenant’s account current. 
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  • Damage let behind by the tenant. You may find that there are large holes in the walls or deep scratches in your floor. Maybe an appliance is broken because it was misused. Photograph and document all the damage so it can be compared to the move-in condition report. 
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  • Cleaning fees. If the tenant left behind a lot of trash or personal belongings or the property is not as clean as it was when they moved in, you’ll have to clean in before you can rent it out again. You’re able to deduct that from the deposit. 

When you do withhold all or some of the tenant’s security deposit, provide an itemized list. 

If you don’t return the security deposit or you take too long and you don’t follow the statute, you’ll likely be taken to court by your tenant. Not only will you have to refund the full security deposit, you might also find yourself paying a fee that can be hundreds of dollars. 

 

Fair Housing Laws

State and local laws are important and require your attention and compliance, but you don’t want to forget about the federal heavy hitters when we’re talking about legal landmarks. The Fair Housing Act is a pretty big deal, and Jackson landlords must comply with those federal fair housing laws.

There are seven protected classes of people, and if you’re found to discriminate against any of those classes while you’re marketing your property, screening your applications, or making decisions about how who to approve and who to deny for your property, you could find yourself pay a large fine. 

Don’t risk making a fair housing mistake. In your marketing, refrain from stating what types of tenants might like your property and stick instead to the features of your property that make it a fantastic home for anyone. Establish qualifying rental criteria and use that to consistently screen each application. 

You’ll need to know the Americans with Disabilities Act, as well. This governs the accommodations that you need to make for people who have physical, intellectual, or emotional disabilities. It could mean allowing a wheelchair ramp to be installed at your property or it could mean allowing an emotional support animal even though you have a strict no-pets policy. 

ring-binder-used-stored-documents-min-200x300Be Proactive: Demonstrate Compliance with Excellent Records 

Another key aspect of staying compliant with local laws and regulations in Jackson is keeping accurate records. This means everything from rental applications and leases to repair receipts and correspondence with tenants. Having organized records can help you avoid legal issues down the road by proving that you have acted in compliance with all necessary regulations.

You’ll also want accurate financial records and accounting statements should you find yourself audited by the IRS. 

Navigating local laws and regulations as a landlord in Jackson, Mississippi can be challenging, but there’s no way around it. To lawfully rent out a property, you have to know the laws, and you have to follow them. 

By researching local ordinances, staying up-to-date on fair housing laws and other federal requirements, complying with property maintenance regulations, keeping accurate records, and working with a Jackson property management company, you can ensure that your rental property remains compliant and avoids legal issues.

We’d love to help you stay out of legal hot water. Contact our team at Lucroy Residential, and we’ll tell you about all the laws that you might not know yet. 

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