The bulk of the landlords in our current market are either the “mom and pop” investor or what we call a “reluctant landlord.” A “mom and pop” investor is an investor that owns one or more rentals that they will one day use to fund their children’s college tuition or retirement. A “reluctant landlord” is someone that had no desire to be a landlord, but it was their last alternative because they couldn’t sell their house but had to move. When people hear the word “landlord,” many envision a miserly multi-millionaire swimming in a vault of money from all the rental income he is earning. This person is getting richer at the expense of the tenants that he neither cares about nor provides quality housing for. But in reality this couldn’t be further from the truth. I have found that most landlords are very much concerned about providing safe, affordable, clean housing for their tenants and a safe, reliable investment for themselves or their children. However, because they are not swimming in a vault of money, it is sometimes a challenge for them to come up with funds to make expensive repairs that sometimes need to be made, like when the air conditioner goes out in the middle of the summer and must be replaced immediately.
In my opinion, the laws and judges in the state of Arizona lean toward the viewpoint that landlords are wealthy individuals with plenty of money to spare. Why do I mention this? Because whether you are a landlord on purpose, or by default, you need to prepare yourself to be viewed as the wealthy landlord in the eyes of the law. As a result, you will not get any sympathy from the court system should you find yourself in a situation where you’re in the court room, even if you never really wanted to be a landlord in the first place. So my advice is to avoid the court room whenever possible and try to resolve any issues before you get there. There is a philosophy I live by when it comes to legal matters and that is, “The only people that win in court are the attorneys.” While waiting for an eviction case to come forth on the docket, I’ve witnessed situations where the judge ruled in favor of the tenant despite the landlord having what I thought was an “open and shut” case. So it is best to beware and prepare accordingly.
There are a few things you can do to help keep yourself out of court. The first is to work with a knowledgeable property manager (like Blue Fox Properties!). Because property managers deal with these issues on a daily basis, they are better equipped to guide you through the pitfalls. The second, is to address any problems quickly and resolve them as soon as possible. The problem that lingers on is likely to grow, so a quick resolution will stop the growth. Third, understand the laws that apply to property management. I’ve seen many “do it yourself” landlords get in trouble because they thought they knew the law but did not. And remember, what seems to be logical or make sense, may not actually be legal. Last, if it’s a problem that you just can’t resolve without a neutral third party, consider going to a mediator before heading off to court to get a judge involved. If you end up in court, the judge may picture you as that wealthy multi-millionaire real estate investor and be biased against you from the onset.