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Not renting to lawyers.
Old 07-01-2010, 12:51 AM   #1
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Not renting to lawyers.

One of my properties has come up for rental. In reviewing people who have applied to rent, there is a lawyer. I'm thinking I would be foolish to rent to a lawyer.

Does anyone have any experience with this or an opinion?

I have a relative who rented to a woman who's ex was a lawyer. She refused to pay rent and it took six months to get her out. The ex filed multiple suits on her behalf plus she wrecked the place.

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Old 07-01-2010, 02:01 AM   #2
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I'd say it depends on the person.

One does not need to be a lawyer to refuse to pay rent and wreck a place. Most of my roommates in grad school come to mind.
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Old 07-01-2010, 02:19 AM   #3
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Bad tenants come in all shapes and sizes.

If one second hand horror story about someone who used to be attached to a lawyer is going to put you off renting to lawyers, presumably you would also not want to rent to any other category of person for whom you can find a similar story - I'm sure it wouldn't take much effort to eliminate about half of the population as potential tenants using this standard.

By way of disclaimer, I am a lawyer
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Old 07-01-2010, 05:00 AM   #4
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I have a relative who rented to a woman who's ex was a lawyer. She refused to pay rent and it took six months to get her out. The ex filed multiple suits on her behalf plus she wrecked the place.
Unless you can demonstrate that legal training makes people into bad tenants, I think you're in danger of generalising from a very small sample size. The bad tenant will also have been an Aquarius (or one of 11 other star signs), gone to college in Missouri (or one of 49 other states), had black/brown/blond/red hair, some degree of skin pigmentation, etc etc, any of which are equally valid explanations of her behaviour for a sample size of one. Personally, I would never rent to people whose shoe size ends in ½.

More seriously, I would expect a lawyer to be, all other things being equal, a good tenant, although I'd probably make sure the lease was watertight. Lawyers tend to make enough money to pay the rent, and will usually be averse to getting taken to court. YMMV.
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Old 07-01-2010, 05:53 AM   #5
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More seriously, I would expect a lawyer to be, all other things being equal, a good tenant, although I'd probably make sure the lease was watertight. Lawyers tend to make enough money to pay the rent, and will usually be averse to getting taken to court. YMMV.
My experience in dealing with lawyers, and I dealt with a lot of them at my former job, is that most are decent people just like the rest of the population.

As with any other occupational group there are inevitably a few who the rest of the professionals wish had chosen another line of work.
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Old 07-01-2010, 07:35 AM   #6
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I would perhaps weight the lawyer tenant more favorably than a blue collar applicant, to be honest. Checking references and all that should help you feel more comfortable with whatever your final decision may be.

On a related note: I have a friend who has changed her rental program recently to an interesting model. She advertises for females only as roommates in two larger homes. Each tenant has a month-to-month lease with her and they are mostly new girls in town that don't know anyone. She says they seem to get along in a "hostel-like' environment and she's had no troubles. She advertises for single women, non-smoking, non-drinking, no pets. Interesting.
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Old 07-01-2010, 08:29 AM   #7
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I might be wary if s/he is a sole practitioner because I've heard stories of some who do not meet the payroll. I've seen many of their businesses go under quickly. So I'd check their financial situation.
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Old 07-01-2010, 09:22 AM   #8
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Ok I give my students extra credit for good lawyer jokes so here is one for the thread

Lawyer is the tenant. He has had a prickly relationship about noise with the landlord who is renovating the apartments on the same floor. Calls one evening to complain and leaves a message onthe recording machine. Phone rings at 3 AM. It's the landlord. Lawyer gets furious gives the landlord a 10 minute harangue about noise, quiet hours, his rights as a tenant etc. wont let the landlord get a word in edgewise. Finally Screams "SO WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO SAY FOR YOURSELF?? Landlord says "nothing for myself I just called to say the building is on fire !!!
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Old 07-01-2010, 09:26 AM   #9
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I've rented to at least 5 law students on separate occasions. No problems, two of them did make a point of reading every word of the contract and also sent 30 day written notice (rare). None of them trashed the places or flaked on rent. I don't believe lawyers are a protected class, so think you can refuse to rent to them with impunity. All that said, a jerk tenant with a law degree can make your life as miserable as a meth head with access to free law representation. Jerks is jerks.

Go with what your belly tells you; don't rent to people you don't like. If you aren't getting along with them at first meeting when everybody has their best face on it's not going to get better when the tenant has a complaint. Don't break the law. There are plenty of legal ways to hold to the law and do what you want. I reject some people on the phone or based on their Craigslist response, before meeting them or taking an application - easier than after meeting them and finding they are in a protected class and I don't like them.
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Old 07-01-2010, 09:28 AM   #10
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I imagine if you keep up your end of the bargain as a landlord, most lawyers will keep up their end.

I sold my east coast condo to 2 lawyers from California sight unseen. They knew I was trained as a lawyer and I think it helped all of us in negotiating a deal that protected their interests and mine and allocated risks appropriately to make the deal close. An example of a situation where legal training helped.

I'm not saying this describes you, but if one were a landlord that tries to cut corners on repairs and maintenance and sort of slum-lords it, then I would not rent to an attorney. They would be more likely to withhold rent until things were fixed, or to pay contractors to fix things and offset that against rent. Or claim constructive eviction and walk.
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Old 07-01-2010, 10:49 AM   #11
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I am a lawyer and rented a house a few years ago after we sold one house and hadn't found a new house yet.

I was quite meticulous and reading the lease. For example, the lease presented for me required me the tenant to pay the first $X of any repairs to the property. Well, I did think that was the landlord's job so I crossed that out.

However, I endeavored to follow the lease very closely and I paid promptly. As a lawyer I don't want to do anything to create a dispute or damage my credit. When we found our new home a few months before the lease terminated I called the landlord and worked out an early lease termination that was fair to both us. I suspect that many people (including many non-lawyers) would have moved out and just quit paying.
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Old 07-01-2010, 11:07 AM   #12
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I'm not saying this describes you, but if one were a landlord that tries to cut corners on repairs and maintenance and sort of slum-lords it, then I would not rent to an attorney. They would be more likely to withhold rent until things were fixed, or to pay contractors to fix things and offset that against rent. Or claim constructive eviction and walk.
An educated tenant is more likely to expect the landlord to uphold the landlord-tenant code and the lease...
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Old 07-01-2010, 11:12 AM   #13
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I have nothing against lawyers, but I wouldn't rent to one. If you get a regular person, no problem, but if you get a jerk, then you have a jerk with unlimited free access to a lawyer. Lawyers know all sorts of ways to cause trouble.
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Old 07-01-2010, 11:30 AM   #14
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Pardon my ignorance - - I'm not a landlord, but I am completely mystified by this thread. Since when can you decide who to rent to? There are laws against discrimination, right? If all else is equal I am surprised that you have any choice in the matter, if the prospective tenant proves he/she will be able to pay the rent.
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Old 07-01-2010, 11:36 AM   #15
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Pardon my ignorance - - I'm not a landlord, but I am completely mystified by this thread. Since when can you decide who to rent to? There are laws against discrimination, right? If all else is equal I am surprised that you have any choice in the matter, if the prospective tenant proves he/she will be able to pay the rent.
I could be wrong (I'm not a lawyer, which I guess means I can rent the place!), but I don't think occupation is one of the protected classes in federal "fair housing" laws. Some state laws may add provisions against occupation-based discrimination, though, so someone would do well to make sure they know state law before doing so.
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Old 07-01-2010, 11:38 AM   #16
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Hey, right, maybe the lawyer will sue you for not renting to him.
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Old 07-01-2010, 12:22 PM   #17
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I could be wrong (I'm not a lawyer, which I guess means I can rent the place!), but I don't think occupation is one of the protected classes in federal "fair housing" laws. Some state laws may add provisions against occupation-based discrimination, though, so someone would do well to make sure they know state law before doing so.
Great case
Kramarsky v Stahl Mgt.
S. Ct. NY [1977]
Author:-
Sam Biers
Landlord’s Motives in Selecting or Removing Tenants
Relevant Facts: Ms. Judith Pierce, a Black, divorced, female, atty for the NYC Commission on Human Rights, applied for an apartment controlled and operated by Stahl Mgt. On her application she indicated her employer, salary and previous employment w/ Legal Services. The apartment building tenancy is composed of 30% blacks, and 60% rented to unmarried people. Ms. Pierce’s application was rejected. Mr. Stahl admitted that the information on the application indicated she “would be a source of trouble to me as a tenant.”
Legal Issue(s): Whether the LL acted illegally in discriminating against lawyers, or whether he discriminated against Ms. Pierce as a divorced, black, single woman?
Court’s Holding: No, and No
Procedure: Comms’ filed Motion/Order to Show Cause seeking injunctive relief barring the rental of the specific apartment at issue until a final determination. Denied and TRO is vacated.
Law or Rule(s): It shall be unlawful discriminatory practice for the owner, lessee, or managing agent to refuse to sell, rent, lease, or otherwise to deny to or withhold from any person housing b/c of the race, creed, color, national origin, sex, or disability or marital status.
Court Rationale: Absent a supervening statutory proscription, a LL is free to do what he wishes with his property, and to rent or not to rent to any given person at his whim. He may decide not to rent to singer b/c they are too noisy, or not to rent to bald headed men b/c he has been told they give wild parties. He can bar his premises to the lowest strata of society, should he chose, or to the highest, if that be his personal desire. There is nothing illegal in a LL discriminating against lawyers as a group, or trying to keep out of his building intelligent persons, aware of their rights, who may give him trouble in the future. A LL has a “right to be selective and to reject a prospective tenant b/c of his or her failure to meet standard of acceptability other than those which concern themselves with one’s race or color or standards which are otherwise proscribed by statute.”[Comm’n v Kennelly] The court is not persuaded that there is a reasonable likelihood that the charge of discrimination can be sustained.
Plaintiff’s Argument: Stahl Mgt unlawfully discriminated against the PL by refusing to rent an apartment to her b/c of her race, sex, and marital status.
Defendant’s Argument: The Pl’s application indicated that in the eyes of the LL PL would not be a desirable tenant, and the LL regularly rents to persons of color, varying gender, and unmarried people.
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Old 07-01-2010, 04:00 PM   #18
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Great case
Kramarsky v Stahl Mgt.
S. Ct. NY [1977]
Author:- Sam Biers
Landlord’s Motives in Selecting or Removing Tenants
Relevant Facts: Ms. Judith Pierce, a Black, divorced, female, atty for the NYC Commission on Human Rights, applied for an apartment controlled and operated by Stahl Mgt. On her application she indicated her employer, salary and previous employment w/ Legal Services. The apartment building tenancy is composed of 30% blacks, and 60% rented to unmarried people. Ms. Pierce’s application was rejected. Mr. Stahl admitted that the information on the application indicated she “would be a source of trouble to me as a tenant.”
Legal Issue(s): Whether the LL acted illegally in discriminating against lawyers, or whether he discriminated against Ms. Pierce as a divorced, black, single woman?
Court’s Holding: No, and No
Procedure: Comms’ filed Motion/Order to Show Cause seeking injunctive relief barring the rental of the specific apartment at issue until a final determination. Denied and TRO is vacated.
Law or Rule(s): It shall be unlawful discriminatory practice for the owner, lessee, or managing agent to refuse to sell, rent, lease, or otherwise to deny to or withhold from any person housing b/c of the race, creed, color, national origin, sex, or disability or marital status.
Court Rationale: Absent a supervening statutory proscription, a LL is free to do what he wishes with his property, and to rent or not to rent to any given person at his whim. He may decide not to rent to singer b/c they are too noisy, or not to rent to bald headed men b/c he has been told they give wild parties. He can bar his premises to the lowest strata of society, should he chose, or to the highest, if that be his personal desire. There is nothing illegal in a LL discriminating against lawyers as a group, or trying to keep out of his building intelligent persons, aware of their rights, who may give him trouble in the future. A LL has a “right to be selective and to reject a prospective tenant b/c of his or her failure to meet standard of acceptability other than those which concern themselves with one’s race or color or standards which are otherwise proscribed by statute.”[Comm’n v Kennelly] The court is not persuaded that there is a reasonable likelihood that the charge of discrimination can be sustained.
Plaintiff’s Argument: Stahl Mgt unlawfully discriminated against the PL by refusing to rent an apartment to her b/c of her race, sex, and marital status.
Defendant’s Argument: The Pl’s application indicated that in the eyes of the LL PL would not be a desirable tenant, and the LL regularly rents to persons of color, varying gender, and unmarried people.
Yeah, it would be a great case, if it were still the law in New York City, which a long time ago changed its municipal code to prohibit discrimination on the basis of occupation! I remember the above case caused so much angst among the legal profession in NYC that the Bar lobbied for the changes in New York City. Here's a description of the current law from NY City's Rent Guidelines Board:


DISCRIMINATION Landlords may not refuse to rent to, renew the lease of, or otherwise discriminate against, any person or group of persons because of race, creed, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, marital status or familial status. In New York City, tenants are further protected against discrimination with respect to lawful occupation, sexual orientation, partnership status and immigration status. People with AIDS or who are HIV-positive, as well as recovering alcoholics, are also protected from discrimination. Further, NYC landlords are prohibited from discriminating against tenants based on lawful source of income which includes income from social security or any form of federal, state or local public assistance including section 8 vouchers. Executive Law § 296(5); NYC Admin. Code § 8-107. * * *
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Old 07-01-2010, 04:23 PM   #19
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I have a good friend who owns several rental properties. He had a person who would not pay his rent. He tried for months to get the money. He got mad and went on the roof and removed it. He said he was updating the house. You know, the person all of sudden came up with the money
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Old 07-01-2010, 04:33 PM   #20
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It might be a good thing to rent to a lawyer (also assuming you're doing the same due diligence in checking this applicant's credit and references). Might be a good person/resource for you to know for the future.
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