Friday, October 30, 2009
Landlord, Protect Thyself!
Landlord First Commandment- Protect Thyself! Almost every landlord would state he is a good judge of character, and with the thorough credit report he does on every tenant, he has nothing to fear. He rents in a reputable area, in a nice building, with good neighbors. However, this attitude is naive. Every tenant has the potential to become enraged with the landlord, and if that tenant knows where you live, you and your family are in potential danger. There are countless stories of tenants "flipping out" over perceived injustice, damaging the apartment, and worse, attacking the landlord or his family. Every tenant has an extending circle of direct friends and family. The landlord will also be involved with a multitude of workers, any one of whom could be an opportunist waiting to take advantage of a too trusting manager. Remember, essential as they are, credit reports do not weed out alcoholics, drug users, or violent tempers, which can all be easily concealed in interviews.While this is intended to give you pause, it is not to scare you into selling off all your hopes of owning rental property. There are steps you can take to optimize your safety. Never give out your address, home phone number, or personal information on your family. Have a PO Box and a separate phone number for any business related communications. For $7 a month, get a separate phone number which forwards calls to your home phone, or for $10/month, get an extra cell phone number on the family plan, with voicemail. Take your name and address off of any group or public directory, and identify your wife who answers the phone as "the secretary" and yourself as the "maintenance manager". Use common sense in dark or isolated places, and always be aware of who is around you. Do not place yourself in vulnerable positions, particularly when you know a tenant is upset with you or others. Having a gun may be useful if you are home, but your dependents may not know how or want to use a weapon. The best defense is a good offense- arm yourself with these simple precautions, and you can deflect a host of potential problems.