If you are thinking of investing in real estate, the smartest thing to do is consult a real estate lawyer. This is not something you should just jump into. Investing involves lots of research, preparation of documents and a good deal of negotiation, all which can be daunting to new investors. Even more seasoned players have no desire to go the investment path alone.
Rental property is even more complex. Rental agreements must be looked at, and a detailed accounting of the rents must be made. This accounting should list the rental rates, if everything is current, as well as the details on each tenant. A real estate lawyer will also be able to advise on when taxes are due, what licenses you are required to carry and if there are any sub-metering agreements that the owner entered into. If in the sale you inherit a superintendent or employee, how to deal with that situation can also be advised.
A lawyer can fill out all documents and make sure all paperwork and agreements are taken care of before you sign on the dotted line. That includes the zoning of basement apartments and the fire coding of those apartments if need be. It’s best to get a local lawyer who is familiar with that municipality’s laws and quirks.
Your lawyer can also make sure you are not surprised by demands or claims by any existing tenants. This includes signed acknowledgements from current tenants concerning rents and/or deposits and prior agreements to warranties from landlords that any rent increases were done legally. It just helps to avoid unpleasant surprises all around.