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Tempe Arizona Business Law Blog

There are Fair Housing mistakes you don't want to make

When you decide to become a landlord, what you do with your property isn't entirely all up to you -- there are laws that apply to your actions, including the Fair Housing Act.

A lot of small investors who rent out homes that they once lived in or inherited from a relative aren't familiar with the rules -- and that causes them to run afoul of the law. Here are some of the top mistakes landlords tend to make:

  1. They don't read up on the Fair Housing Act. It's smart to have a passing understanding of the law that makes it illegal to discriminate against someone based on one of seven protected classes, including national origin, race, color, religion, familial status, disability and sex.
  2. Not following their own rules. You need to have clearly defined (and clearly legal) rules regarding your tenants. You also have to follow them. In other words, if you have a credit score requirement for your tenants, you can't bend the rules for that one nice lady with the kids who just went through a divorce -- unless you want to be sued by the next hard-luck case that comes along.
  3. Asking questions about their family. If you're the sort of person who will ask about someone's marital status and kids when you meet them in the grocery store line, this rule is tough to remember.
  4. Using "code" in your rental ads. This confused landlords a lot because it can be hard to tell if "near the church" is a way to discourage non-Christians or just a selling point.
  5. Not making exceptions for disabled tenants. Even if you think it's a bad idea for a tenant with a limp to rent your apartment, it's not your call. You also make reasonable accommodations (like allowing a tenant to remodel the shower for ease of access at his or her own cost). You also need to permit service animals, even if you have a no-pet policy.

It's time for the year-end preparations for your business

Small business owners everywhere are breathing sighs of relief now that the holiday season -- and all its craziness -- has passed.

If you're among them, you get just a day or two to breathe easy. Then, it's time to get the year-end reports ready and gather everything you need to make sure that you finish the year without a hitch. (This is also the only way to start the new year off right.) Good record-keeping is the heart and soul of avoiding legal conflicts that can drain your energy and your wallet.

How to resolve common business partnership disputes

Having a business partner allows you experience many of the benefits of business ownership without all the risks. You can bounce ideas off someone else, and you can each use your strengths in the management of the business. However, you and your partner will likely disagree about how the company is being run at some point. Here are three common disputes, and how to resolve these issues.

Arizona is ripe for real estate investors: Where you should look

"Location, location, location" has long been a mantra in business -- and that's perhaps especially true when you're talking about investing in real estate.

Thanks to the cooling market for home sales and the booming market for rentals, experts think that it might be a great time to invest in real estate. They generally anticipate home sales to continue to wane and prices to continue to fall, which means that investors looking to pick up rental properties may have an advantage.

Anti-discrimination laws and your Arizona business

If you're a small business owner in Tempe -- or many other places in Arizona -- you need to be conscious of the local laws in place designed to stop discrimination against people on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender expression or gender identity.

Tempe has had an anti-discrimination ordinance in place since 2014 that provides such protections. Ordinances like the one in Tempe have been challenged in numerous states, including Arizona, by some business owners.

Arizona house hunters beware: Bad flips could cost you

Could that great house deal in Phoenix or elsewhere in Arizona be hiding some ugly secrets?

Maybe so -- particularly if the house was recently purchased at auction and "flipped" by renovators. While many renovators who make their living flipping houses legitimately work to correct structural problems, plumbing issues, bad wiring and any other major issues they find, some renovators focus only on cosmetic improvements to make a quick sale. That can leave buyers suffering once they find out that there's a lot of expensive problems with their new homes.

What is 'fair use' of copyrighted material?

Sometimes it's okay to use someone else's copyrighted material for your own purposes. "Fair use" is the unlicensed use or copying of someone else's original work without their permission. As long as your use of the material can be considered fair use, it isn't a violation of copyright law -- nor subject to penalties for infringement.

What does that mean, exactly?

Adding to your small business team

It may have seemed like a dream that was a lot farther away when you were starting your business, but it has become clear that it’s time to expand. The profits seem stable enough to bring another person on board, and there is more work than you can comfortably accomplish alone.

Bringing on a new employee is something that can make your life easier, but also comes with a significant amount of stress. There is a certain sense of nervousness when someone new will be relying on a business that, not so long ago, was just an idea in your head.

Tenant rights and service animals: What you should know

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), tenants with disabilities have a right to have a service animal -- even if animals aren't normally permitted in the lease.

However, tenants need to understand the limitations on the law and exactly what rights they do -- and don't -- have.

Arizona couple loses $12 million lawsuit to Nintendo

Don't start a business that makes money off of another company's intellectual property rights -- even if the property is old and you don't think the company is going to do anything with it.

That may be the primary lesson behind a lawsuit between gaming giant Nintendo and an Arizona couple who hosted pirated read-only versions of the company's old games and provided users with the emulator tools to play their favorites from decades ago. Many of the games, including favorites like Mario Kart 65 and Pokemon Yellow, are no longer accessible through ordinary means.

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