There are a lot of situations where you might want to hire a landlord-tenant attorney, whether you need assistance with an eviction case or you want a lawyer to help you draft your lease agreements.
If you’re set on hiring a landlord-tenant lawyer, the next step is making a short list of potential lawyers to interview. Let’s look at seven tips that will help you track down the right attorney for your needs.
If you simply don’t know where to begin when searching for a landlord-tenant lawyer, there are a number of online directories where you can find attorneys that practice in your area.
One of the first places you can look for a landlord-tenant attorney is your state bar association website.
The American Bar Association also maintains a list of bar directories and lawyer finders for each U.S. state.
There are tons of sites where you can find lawyers based on your location and the specific area of practice you are looking for. Some of the biggest ones include:
You can also find attorneys by practice area or location using the Cornell Legal Information Institute site.
If your state publishes business or real estate magazines, you might also be able to find lists of landlord-tenant attorneys or advertisements that give you a good jumping-off point in your search.
Another avenue you can walk down when searching for a landlord-tenant lawyer is talking to real estate professionals that work in your area. If you recently purchased a rental property and had a good experience working with your real estate agent, for example, you could reach out to them to ask if they have any recommendations.
Depending on how long you’ve been a rental property investor, you might have a fairly dense Rolodex of real estate professionals that you can ask for advice. Even if they don’t have any recommendations to give you, they might know someone that does.
A real estate agent isn’t the only professional that might be able to offer advice or direction. Consider asking any property managers, appraisers, brokers, or real estate investors that you know to see if they have useful suggestions.
Searching for the next city you want to invest in? Check out our list of the best places to buy rental property in the US.
Another good way to find a landlord-tenant attorney is to talk to other lawyers who practice in a different area of the law. You can either call a lawyer you’ve worked with previously or even an attorney you’ve never worked with, but that has a good reputation. They might be able to give you a few names that you can add to your list, and you can know that they are vetted by experienced lawyers.
As you go through each of these steps, you want to build a list of prospective landlord-tenant attorneys with whom you can set up initial appointments.
You can start narrowing down this list by calling each office and taking notes about how accessible each lawyer is and how long it takes them to return your call. After all, when you have a legal problem involving tenants, you want your lawyer to be highly responsive, right?
It’s possible that during this process, you will cross some names off your list right away. With the remaining lawyers, you’ll want to set up an appointment to learn more about whether they would be a good fit for your needs and budget.
Setting up an appointment with potential attorneys is a great first step, but you’re essentially wasting the opportunity if you aren’t prepared with a list of questions.
On top of the more objective information you receive from the meeting, you’ll want to also think about how you feel you get along with the lawyer. They don’t need to be your best friend by any means, but you don’t want to completely override your gut reaction. If your personality simply clashes with an attorney or you feel they struggle to explain complex legal matters in a way you understand, it’s probably not a good fit.
When you’re creating your list of questions, you’ll want to find out whether they have experience working with landlords with similar properties. It’s also important to take notes so that you can compare later on before making your final decision.
Think about what your real estate activities entail and how a lawyer could be useful. For example, if a lawyer you speak with specializes in landlord-tenant law but also has a lot of experience dealing with the legal aspects of purchasing foreclosed property, you might lean in that direction if you are interested in investing in foreclosures.
Of course, another important aspect of hiring a landlord-tenant attorney is how the fee structure works. You don’t want to choose a lawyer just because they’re the cheapest, but you also probably don’t want to pay way more than the market rate.
Ask as many questions as you need to in order to feel like you have a solid grasp of how billing will work. For example, if you call to ask a few questions from time to time, will a bill arrive in the mail a week later, rounding up to the next hour? No matter what the answer is, it’s good to fully understand what you will be charged for and using what rate.
It can be hard to really get a feel for how it will be to work with a landlord-tenant lawyer until you’re actually in the thick of things. If someone seemed like they would be a great fit, but you feel they actually aren’t being as responsive or helpful as you expected, don’t be afraid to find someone else that can serve your needs better. Hiring a lawyer isn’t cheap, and you should be able to find a dependable, trustworthy, and knowledgeable attorney in your area that you feel comfortable working with.
When you’ve gone through all the trouble of vetting and hiring an attorney only to find that they aren’t a great fit, it can be tempting to simply suffer with the choice you’ve made. It’s important, though, to invest in finding a lawyer that you feel is worth the money you’re paying them. Plus, taking the time to seek out the right attorney now could end up saving you a lot of money down the road if you ever face legal difficulties.
If you own rental properties, you know how important it is for all of the numbers to work out in your favor. From the costs of operating property to the money you bring in with rent and fees, you want to have as much certainty as possible that you’ll be in the black every month. Be sure to check out our rental property calculators to help you run the numbers and achieve your real estate investing goals.