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Justice for Tenants, but What About Landlords?

SS6-21-13Justice and fairness lie at the heart of King Solomon’s proverbs about living a righteous and prosperous life. “Treasures of wickedness shall profit nothing; but justice shall deliver from death,” he says in Proverbs 10:2, and as he shows in his own judgments, the powerful must deal justly with the powerless. Now, as consumer advocates push for stricter tenants’ rights codes to protect renters from landlord abuses, landlords are wondering who’s on their side.

According to a recent New York Times guest piece by Scott James, a nightmarish experience with a tenant led the San Francisco landlord to the decision never to rent the property out again — a story that highlights the tension between tenant rights and landlord’s intentions.

It seems simple on paper: tenant and landlord sign a rental agreement, everybody knows what they have to do to keep things running smoothly and the arrangement holds until these ideal renters move out. But, as we’ve noted in previous posts on landlord/tenant issues, that doesn’t always happen. Tenants fail to pay rent, destroy property, endanger others and file lawsuits. Tenant advocacy groups rightly point out that renters especially in markets where rentals outnumber owners, need protections from unscrupulous property owners, but fair-minded owners feel that there’s hardly any advocacy for them.

Each state has its own landlord tenant laws, part of a network of property related laws that include municipal codes and taxes. Because it appears that casino online landlords hold the cards, protecting tenants has been the focus of many advocacy movements around the country.But frustrated landlords find that too often the only option to solve a situation is to evict the tenant. Although this is a process entirely protected by law as long as the proper procedures are followed, the landlord often ends up playing the role of the villain in the piece..

Eviction can be a long and potentially expensive undertaking. Notices must be served, the tenant has the chance to respond, and the process can take months. If the landlord triumphs and the tenant can be evicted, actually getting that done becomes another process entirely. And because evictions and threats of eviction add fuel to the fire of the original problem, property owners may end up fearing for their safety and that of others on the property, Angry tenants faced with eviction have trashed rental homes, set them on fire and shot out windows in a final act of defiance that puts everybody at risk.

With considerations like these, its no wonder that many investors turn over the day to day handling of issues like these to outside property managers. But even so, evictions and other kinds of tenant management have the potential for inflicting damage to the property and the people around it.

For landlords like Scott James, vacant is the new rented. But for many, leaving properties vacant isn’t a viable option. Landlord/owners must protect themselves by knowing their rights too, and by carefully screening prospective tenants and making expectations clear and in writing. Those are strategies that can help keep income flowing from rents being paid. And, as Jason Hartman says, that’s the best scenario for wealth building from mortgaged property. (Top image: Flickr/PhilipSexton)

James. Scott. “King of My Castle? Yeah, Right.” Opinion Pages. The New York Times. Online, 6 Jun 2013.

Read more from Solomon Success:

5 Words of Investing Wisdom From King Solomon

Wise Counsel Doesn”t Have to Break the Bank

The Solomon Success Team

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