How Landlords Work

You may have heard someone sing, "Ain't nothin' goin' on but the rent," but there's a lot more to being a landlord than just collecting payments. See more real estate pictures.
Influx Productions/Photodisc/Getty Images

Landlords sometimes get a bad rap. In the minds of disgruntled tenants, the landlord is the guy who collects money every month, takes two weeks to fix a leaky faucet and hasn't painted the front of the building since the Ford administration. But the truth is that being a landlord can be hard and often thankless work. Perhaps that's why so many landlords now call themselves "residential rental owners" to avoid the stigma associated with the ancient profession.

At one time in history, landlords literally were lords. In the manorial and feudal systems of medieval Europe, all land was owned by a lord who allowed peasants to live on his property in return for labor. In exchange for working the land, peasants received protection against roving bands of marauders and invading armies. Peasant labor was only a small step away from slave labor. Technically, peasants had their freedom, but many lords used all manner of financial and physical intimidation to keep peasants under their power.

Today, landlords are property owners who rent homes, apartments and condominiums as a business. The professional relationship between a modern landlord and his tenants is dictated by strict state and federal laws meant to protect the rights of both the renter and the property owner. Landlords sometimes hire property managers to screen tenants, handle repairs and oversee the day-to-day operation of a rental property.

­Reasonable landlords and their representatives treat tenants with respect, charge a fair price, keep their properties up to code and quickly complete repairs. Keep reading to learn how landlords find and screen potential tenants, what's included in a lease or rental agreement, landlord rights and responsibilities, and what's involved in an eviction.