What does a landlord attorney do?
A landlord attorney will help create or review a lease or represent you if you are having a dispute with your tenant. Lawyers who represent landlords are often experts in the state and local laws that govern landlord-tenant relationships and can help landlords navigate the complex rules and regulations that apply to rentals in their area. Landlord attorneys can often come up with solutions to issues that landlords might not have even thought about. A landlord attorney can review your leases, answer your questions about lease provisions and problem tenants, and keep you out of hot water when it comes to landlord requirements and responsibilities.
If you are a commercial landlord, a landlord attorney can represent your interests in lease negotiations and provide valuable advice regarding requests for build-outs and modifications to the commercial rental space and provisions to handle unforeseen circumstances, such as an economic downturn, natural disaster, or pandemic.
How do I know if I need a landlord attorney?
You may need a landlord attorney if you are:
- Creating a lease for the first time. Your attorney may review your lease to make sure it protects your interests.
Changing or updating your current lease. You might ask your attorney if your lease is up-to-date and covers changing circumstances.
Encountering a tenant who has stopped paying rent or is always late. You can get advice on what you can and can’t do to ensure timely rent payments.
Attempting to evict a tenant or a tenant’s guest. Consider asking for guidance or getting your attorney to help with the eviction process.
Dealing with a tenant who broke a provision in your lease agreement. Your attorney can help assess the violation and recommend next steps or take action to address the violation.
Finding yourself in a dispute over a security deposit. Your attorney likely understands local laws regarding security deposits and can help you assess your position in the dispute.
Being sued by your tenant or a tenant’s guest. Your lawyer can review the lawsuit, determine your rights and possible liabilities, and represent you in the case or recommend an appropriate trial attorney to defend your interests.
Fielding complaints from neighboring residents or businesses. A lawyer may represent you in discussions or communications with neighbors to ensure you are not putting your position in jeopardy by saying things that could get you in trouble.
Handling a domestic violence situation in one of your rentals. A lawyer well-versed in housing laws can help you evaluate a situation that might involve domestic violence and help you decide what you can and can’t do in response.
Confronting renters engaged in criminal activity on your property. While it seems risky to confront anyone engaged in criminal activity, a landlord attorney can help you determine what you can do, safely and legally, to address unwanted behavior on your property.
Note that you can handle some security deposit disputes on your own in small claims court. But if you're confused about the small claims court process, you may want to consult with a landlord attorney to help guide you through the next steps.
How much does a landlord attorney cost?
Many landlord attorneys charge by the hour, but some also use flat rate services for simple matters such as drawing up or revising a lease. More complicated cases will require more time and will therefore be more expensive. Attorney fees vary widely by location and years of practice and experience. A lawyer hanging out a shingle fresh out of law school might charge an hourly fee as low as $100. Compare that with a more experienced attorney in a large metropolitan area charging $350+ per hour. Be sure to ask up front about your attorney’s hourly rate, how many hours your matter might require, and whether or not a retainer will be needed. You might also ask if there is a flat rate service available.
At Rocket Lawyer, we believe access to justice should be affordable. That’s why we have put together a nationwide network of attorneys who can be called upon to answer legal questions and review legal documents, including lease agreements and eviction notices, for an affordable price. Rocket Lawyer members enjoy mobile access to customizable legal documents, electronic signatures, and our attorney network on any device. If you are a landlord looking for comprehensive legal solutions to help manage your rental properties and business, learn more about Rocket Lawyer products and services for landlords and property managers.
What should I expect when working with a landlord attorney?
If you have found a lawyer that you like and want to work with, here are some tips for how you can get the most out of your attorney-client relationship.
Confirm your lawyer’s fees and make sure you understand what you will be billed for, and how.
Ask detailed questions about how to communicate with your lawyer and how your lawyer will communicate with you, including how often you will be updated on the status of your legal matter.
Gather up all of the paperwork that is relevant to your legal matter. Make copies of originals and organize your paper trail in a way that is easy for your lawyer to understand.
Your lawyer should be transparent about billing and should respond to your communications in a timely manner. If you find your relationship is not going well, you may consider finding a new lawyer.
This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.