If you don’t think you need a rental agent to help you manage your rental property, consider these two tales of trainwreck-y landlord/tenant relations from the archives of the personal finance blog Get Rich Slowly:
When this duplex dweller’s air conditioner stopped functioning, and his landlord, (who lived 20 miles away, and was busy with his day job), failed in several attempts to have it repaired, the tenant decided to “research his options.” In the course of that research, he discovered that his landlord didn’t have a “rental certificate” in place for his apartment, which is required in LA in order for the landlord to legally collect rent. The tenant further discovered that his apartment was ineligible for a rental certificate, because the building was zoned as a single-family residence. Long story, short: The tenant decided not to pay rent for every day that the AC went un-repaired, the landlord tried to evict him, the tenant had the apartment declared illegal…and the landlord couldn’t rent it out again until he had it rezoned, which took months.
In order to rent their house quickly in a soft rental market, these landlords decided to rent to a couple who had dicey credit, and who were going through bankruptcy due to a failed business venture. Since these tenants had recently declared bankruptcy, the landlords knew that the couple couldn’t file again for years, thus they figured they would be able to take legal action if the rent went unpaid. Well, the rent did go unpaid, and the tenants filed for bankruptcy again, the same day they were served eviction papers. Even though the filing was bogus, the tenants were granted an Automatic Stay, a situation which took the landlords 13 trips to court, over a period of about three months, to resolve. Meanwhile, the tenants lived in their house rent-free.