6. GET FAMILIAR WITH LANDLORD LAWS

As a neophyte landlord, it's important to know your exact responsibilities under the law.

Two good resources for rental rules are the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Web site (www.hud.gov ), and The Landlord Protection Agency (www.thelpa.com ), which includes state-specific rental guidelines and standardized forms for rental agreements.

An attorney or the Landlord Protection Agency also can help you craft a well-written lease, which is crucial to protect your property. It will help you evict a tenant or hold them accountable for damage if necessary.

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