Property Management Blog

The Top Legal Considerations for Property Management

by Tom Lutzenberger on Thursday, November 10, 2011 9:27 AM
Tom LutzenbergerManaging a business that deals with landlord-tenant issues inherently includes the risk of disagreement, which can boil over to litigation. If the right property management is not involved, the legal or law issues could become worse before a landlord has a chance to get a handle on the situation. As a result, there are number of items a landlord should look for to prevent potential legal risks before they occur with a managed rental property. Doing so won’t prevent a lawsuit for a fall-down injury or an emotional dispute over a security deposit, but it will make your position stronger and in some cases avoid a lawsuit entirely.

The top legal or law issues a landlord can watch out for with the use of property management include:

Staying up-to-date on rental law changes . Rental laws are dictated by municipal and state law changes which, depending on the whim of a local or state rule-making body, can change quickly. Landlords can’t argue ignorance of a new law change.

Don’t be so quick to sue. For landlords, ending up in court should be the last tool for resolving a landlord-tenant legal or law issue. The chance of winning is ultimately 50/50 and many judges give tenants lots of chances and breaks, making allowances for landlords already knowing property law better. Rental agreements that require arbitration and/or mediation can avoid court altogether.

Keep good records. Irrespective of people’s honesty or memories, most legal issues are determined on existing documentation or lack of it. If you can’t show an agreement, a receipt, or a signature, your argument will be weaker than the other party in court.

Properly-trained staff. Because a property management service represents a landlord by proxy, it’s important the best foot is put forward. A landlord can quickly lose good tenants upset at poor behavior from management staff. Poorly-trained staff also commonly make mistakes on forms, which cause problems later on as documents are relied on.

Fix maintenance issues when they arise. Aside from rent payment disputes, lack of maintenance triggers the most complaints from tenants. Having someone regularly dealing with these issues, as well as structure infrastructure avoids conflicts that can later boil into serious legal problems. HVAC, plumbing, electricity, and security are all legal or law hot spot issues to watch for.

Eviction process compliance matters. An eviction can be completely thrown out in court if the various notifications involved are not performed correctly. Because of this fact, a property management service needs to be well-versed in the procedure to properly protect the landlord client. If the firm has never performed an eviction, landlords are best served by staying clear.

Manage your insurance issues. Good property management services proactively track rental property insurance issues and recommend how a landlord can save money by making changes to the property. Doing so can reduce insurance legal or law disputes over time.

Copyright ©2011

Author
Tom Lutzenberger

Tom Lutzenberger on Property Management and Real Estate

Thank you for reading my blog where I discuss the latest topics, trends and legal aspects of property management and real estate.

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