As a homeowner, part of hiring a property manager means that there is someone there to protect your property and protect your legal rights. But who protects and backs the property manager? Having a good real estate attorney on call or on your team is essential to provide the appropriate, full range of services to your homeowner clients. These three legal issues are the top reasons cited for property managers to need a real estate attorney protecting their assets and those of their clients.
1. Debt Collection
Over two-thirds of property managers cite debt collection and disputes as the number one cause for needing a real estate attorney. Renters can default on their payments for a variety of reasons from losing a job to saying other bills are a priority. While there are procedures for property managers to go through in order to collect unpaid rent, these disputes can sometimes end up in small claims court or wrongful eviction suits. Having a real estate attorney on your team to manage legal matters is key.
2. Frivolous Lawsuits
A tenant can bring a suit against property managers and homeowners for a variety of reasons. “Slip-and-fall” suits tend to rise in number when the economy is poor, as individuals try and cash out where they can. Other lawsuits can include tenants suing the property managers for damage done by a third party to the property. In one particular case, a woman in Los Angeles sued her property manager for emotional damages – triggered by posting a repair notice on her door – to the tune of 500K. These types of lawsuits seem to stem from tenants trying to make money from whomever they can. While many issues could be dealt with appropriately through mediation, some individuals jump right to lawsuits. Having a real estate attorney to protect your interests when lawsuits come up, and they will likely come up, is truly essential.
3. Wrongful Termination
Lastly, real estate lawyers don’t just protect your properties and clients that you manage but they also protect your property management business. When you own a business and have to make decisions about hiring and firing, there are many legal issues that can arise. Wrongful termination and employee defamation can be suits that you have to deal with as a business owner. Whether the past employee is terminated for legitimate reasons, some individuals will think that they were let go wrongfully. Same with employee defamation. Not only can past employees make inappropriate statements online or elsewhere but so can prior tenants. A real estate attorney can help advise you on what to do and help protect your business interests.
According to a survey by the Institute of Real Estate Management and the National Association of Realtors, the top legal issues facing property manager in the future will probably be “several fair housing issues — handicap discrimination, advertising and target marketing, familial status discrimination and race and religious discrimination.” If you’re in need of a Dallas real estate attorney for your property management business to protect you and your clients, call Khirallah PLLC.