Why Should a Renter Avoid Nonprofessionally Managed Rentals?
Why Should a Renter Avoid Nonprofessionally Managed Rentals?

Mar 05,2016

Why Should a Renter Avoid Nonprofessionally Managed Rentals?


Many landlords have little idea how to properly manage rental property. This lack of understanding could render your rental experience both miserable and costly.  

Just as the landlord should do a background screen on you to determine if your will be a good risk, you should do something similar about your prospective landlord. There will be more on this later.

Some landlords are morally misguided and they know you have little recourse if they abuse you or violate your moral rights. For example, I recently witnessed a case in Cumming, Georgia where we also offer property management services in Atlanta, whereby the landlord moved out an elderly lady after five years of occupancy. She had placed a $1,200 security deposit.  In preparation for move-out, she had the carpets professionally cleaned, and hired a professional to clean the house, which included the windows and blinds. She even had the garage floors pressure washed. During the final month of occupancy she had cooperated with the landlord’s showing of the property, even going so far as to host the showing for the landlord’s convenience. The showing experience was so successful that the landlord was able to sign a tenant to a new lease to take occupancy the day after the move-out.

All of this she did just to be penalized with a forfeiture of her entire security deposit. That’s just plain wrong. The landlord claimed she left the property dirty. He claimed the cabinets needed to be wiped out.  He also thought that there were too many nail holes in the walls in one bedroom.  She was incredulous when he said he was not going to be painting the walls. (A landlord should expect to have to paint the walls after every turnover, especially after five years.) The truth is, that one can always find issues with cleaning, but there is a reasonable-man standard that should be applied, and if there was to be a nail hole standard that should have been defined in the lease. It was not.

In Georgia we also have a statutory definition of ordinary wear and tear that establishes that there is some level of acceptable diminishment of the property. Beyond this standard would be damages that are caused by “…negligence, carelessness, accident or abuse of the premises by the tenant or members of his household or their invitees or guests.” The damages being claimed here would not fit that description.

The question is:  What can she do about it?  The answer is, very little. The only recourse she has would be to file a warrant in small claims court. It would be difficult for the landlord to defend this, particularly since there was no move-in inventory conducted. A property condition baseline was never established. The property condition change would be one person’s word against the other. The tenant would probably prevail, but most tenants don’t want to suffer the hassle of going to court and most don’t even realize that this is an option. In such cases, the landlord wins.

Now you might be asking yourself what the difference would be if this had been a professional property manager. There are four essential differences:

  1. A professional property manager in Georgia must be licensed to do business. The licensing authority establishes regulations advocating for and protecting the tenant’s rights. The tenant would have legal recourse in some cases. A private landlord is not subject to these laws.
  2. A professional property manager must manage the tenant relationship subject to the state landlord tenant laws. A private landlord is not subject to these laws in most cases.
  3. Most property management companies are members of a professional trade organization and are therefore ethically bound by a code of ethics that also protects the tenant’s rights. A private landlord is not subject to this code.
  4. Even if the property manager is not subscribed to a professional trade organization, the company has a professional reputation to protect. There are many ways to tarnish a company’s reputation. The fact that most property management companies will strive to defend this might be the most important of the four reasons why working with a professional property manager is a better idea. A private landlord does not have a significant enough public profile for this to be of concern.

Now the question might be: How can you background check out a landlord’s background? Sometimes typing the landlord’s name into a browser search bar reveals interesting information, especially if the landlord has a bad reputation. References can be requested and finally, simply talking person-to-person with the exiting tenants and surrounding neighbors could also be illuminating.

Checking out a professional property manager is much easier. There are many more resources. In today’s world the Internet makes this very easy. A good starting point would be checking out consumer reviews. Another would be to go to the company’s website and see what references are available there. Comments would be visible on the Better Business Bureau website if a complaint had ever been filed with them. Finally, just as you could for landlords, you could talk person-to-person with the exiting tenants and surrounding neighbors.

If you are a landlord reading this and would like professional property management services in Cumming, Georgia, we would love to speak with you.

Daniel R. Wilhelm
Executive Broker
3 Options Realty, LLC., CRMC®, The Green Broker



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