Advice sought on "Landlord"-ing

20 posts / 0 new
Last post
Cuz
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 11 months ago
Joined: 05/08/2005 - 12:01am
Advice sought on "Landlord"-ing

We have recently purchased a property that contains what could become a 2 bedroom apartment above the garage. We are pretty sure it has been rented out in the past.

We have never played the roll of [b]"landlord"[/b] and are looking for advice on what we need to look at for virtually any related area in terms of legal responsibilities, landlord rights, taxes, insurances, how to go about checking references or backgrounds of applicants, etc - Where to begin, what to check into.

If you have experiences in this area that you are willing to share, it will be appreciated.
Thanks.

EJ
Offline
Last seen: 9 years 7 months ago
Joined: 03/14/2003 - 1:01am
Advice sought on "Landlord"-ing

First check to be sure you have occupancy, check with the city or town records.

A single family home, can have an add on apartment and still be a single family home, just be sure you dwelling has this listed properly if not go through the hoops to be there, or you might get into trouble if you do not. (see Biddeford landlord with Illegal apartment)

Landlording, rule one, grown horns. Just kidding.

Have a good lawyer with ‘green teeth’ who know landlord code.

What county are you in? Go down to the court-house the day they hold Forcable Entry and Detainer hearings. (FED) or landlord court. Watch the hearings.

Rent the movie Pacific Heights, and watch it.

If you still want to be a landlord, there is a book that may be out of print, Landlording, that has some information.

Oh you must know the Maine laws, they are very liberal.

If you have a lease be sure a lawyer has reviewed it, hopefully the one you may use in court should you ever need to kick someone out.

Ed

Cuz
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 11 months ago
Joined: 05/08/2005 - 12:01am
Advice sought on "Landlord"-ing

Thanks EJ,

Did figure a lawyer would be step 1 - or at least 1B...it's an area I'm not real familiar with.

Am in Milford which is in Penobscot County - also was unaware that the "landlord" court day existed...will look into that and the book.

EJ
Offline
Last seen: 9 years 7 months ago
Joined: 03/14/2003 - 1:01am
Advice sought on "Landlord"-ing

Just call the county court, they will tell you that day.

Sit in, at the begining, when they call all the names, before they go out to "discuss and try to reach an agreement".

Lawyer is not too high, first make sure you have occupantcy at the townhall.

Then be sure you have hard wired battery backup smoke detectors.

Be sure you are able to rent it, because if you can not, you are in a world of hurt if someone gets hurt and you are found to blame for allowing people to live in a deweling that is not legal.

Join a landlord group, MOAMA (Maine Apartment Owners Managers Association), pennobscot or Bangor should have one too worth joining.

They keep you up on new code to be up to, new laws that are in the legislature, wording that has changed.

Ect,

Ed

Wilson
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 2 months ago
Joined: 01/25/2007 - 9:27pm
Advice sought on "Landlord"-ing

Good advice so far. Get a copy of the tenant's rights publications published by Pinetree Legal Services. This will give you a good idea of what the lay of the land looks like. Even if they aren't paying the rent, you need to go through the proper legal channels every time to evict. Good news is that if they aren't paying the rent you will win, eventually.

Previous advice about having a lawyer look at the lease is good. It isn't worth the paper it is printed on if it is not legal.

democrat
Offline
Last seen: 9 years 1 month ago
Joined: 11/15/2003 - 1:01am
Advice sought on "Landlord"-ing

Based on my experience and that of a good friend, my advice is DON"T.

charlotte
Offline
Last seen: 2 months 1 week ago
Joined: 04/09/2005 - 12:01am
Advice sought on "Landlord"-ing

Great advice here.

I am not a landlord. However a family member was for a short while. I know he said this time around he would do a credit check and also check rental history. He took the word of his next door neighbor and rented to her daughter.

After 2 months she stopped paying. Needless to say...she was out in about 1 year.

fullseptic
Offline
Last seen: 7 years 7 months ago
Joined: 01/25/2006 - 4:58pm
Advice sought on "Landlord"-ing

If your hopes are that you'll have some transparent convenient nice occupant or the headaches won't be worth it, don't be a landlord. If you think people are, on the whole, fair and reasonable, wait until you become a landlord -- you'll not only deal with people that are unfair and unreasonable but they will make you feel you are being unfair and unreasonable while they take advantage of Maine's rental laws. Most tenants know the ropes so expect to cut your teeth the first few years.

The first place to check is the assessing department. Ask to see a copy of your property tax card. If it does not show that you have an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) or In-Law Apartment, then you have your first choice to make. Find out from zoning whether your property lies in an area that allows the construction of a second dwelling (if detached from your house). If you find out that its an illegal unit due to zoning, I wouldn't mention a thing or you'll be making it legal, which may be removing some aspect of it that makes it an ADU, usually the kitchenette. Also, if you find that its not on the tax card, but that it is legal, when you seek an occupany permit, expect your taxes to go up for the assessed value of the additional unit. If your ducks are in a row and you have an assessed unit in proper zoning that is cleared for occupancy, double-check that the safety issues, fire alarms, smoke detectors, windows, and ingress/egress are all up to snuff.

Next check on the internet for the discrimination laws when choosing your tenant; you can lose your house if you're not careful over this and though we've not seen much of it in Maine, some people play potential tenant to sue you for discriminating. You can't necessarily pick your preferred tenant. At this point would be where I would rent Pacific Heights. :lol: Then I would try to find someone who has experience being a landlord in your neck of the woods or even in Bangor. You can even play the part of potential tenant with a rental service to see how they handle you if you want to go that far... If you've developed enough questions and still want to proceed at this point and you've heard your fair share of nightmares, then I'd do the court thing and then I'd see a lawyer.

I appraise houses for a living and have met all kinds of people who have owner-occupied homes with units over the garage, which I assume you are considering and not a separate rental property completely. In general, they have two attitudes; they complain to me, a complete stranger, about their tenant and how they are waiting for the day their mortgage is paid off to get rid of the tenant or they are so completely reliant on the tenant to pay their mortgage that they are at the tenant's beck and call and act very mousy and grateful for the tenant. Either way, they become slaves to the tenant in an owner-occupied set-up. With rental properties, there is a much greater disconnect because its less interpersonal since you don't see him/her/them every day in close quarters.

Definitely do your homework before proceeding; it will change your life. If its for the money and you need it to work things out, then be prepared to make sacrifices -- both seen and unseen; if you have children, having a tenant is like the care you give a child at 2am because you love them -- only you'll despise them. If you don't need the money to make ends meet, I'd think twice if your house is your home and you find solace there.

Naran
Offline
Last seen: 4 years 4 months ago
Joined: 10/06/2004 - 12:01am
Advice sought on "Landlord"-ing

The best advice I could give is to contact the Maine State Housing Authority, and obtain the pamphlet of state laws on being a landlord.

There are many legal requirements and rules, such as giving the tenants 24 hour notice before entering the premises to inspect or repair (unless it's a bona fide emergency); all security deposits must be held in a separate escrow account, etc.

I also agree on the credit check for any prospective tenants, as well as getting references from someone who you can verify actually [u]was[/u] their former landlord (not just their cousin pretending to be their former landlord).

Like other parts of life, it's also best not to mix business with personal relations. I wouldn't rent to a relative. I'd prefer to keep it arm's length, and rent to someone completely unconnected to me and my family. That way, if something goes wrong, the aftereffects won't linger through 35 years of weddings, holidays and funerals.

LMD
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 11 months ago
Joined: 02/24/2003 - 1:01am
Advice sought on "Landlord"-ing

Our experience of being "landlords" (in Massachusetts) was literally a living nightmare, hell on earth for 2.5 of the 3 years we rented it out. Two of those 2.5 years we didn't receive any rent money. The first 6 months were fine, because we had different tenants who were a military family. They paid their rent, took care of the home as if it was their own...
The second set of tenants were evil incarnate!
We even hired a nationally well-known, established real estate company to be the 'managers' of the property (we had moved to AZ) in our absense. They were the ones that found the tenants. The second set were 'relatives' of one of the real estate agents.

Long-story short....
NEVER AGAIN.

Ross Lemon
Offline
Last seen: 9 years 6 months ago
Joined: 04/27/2006 - 10:22am
Advice sought on "Landlord"-ing

Check out http://www.maoma.org/ "Maine Apartment Owners and Managers Association". I am a member of the Central Maine chapter. They can give you as much help as you need, and you just might save a few dollars on oil as a member.

If you are only renting one unit at your personal residence you have a lot more rights than in a commercial building. A lot of the discrimination laws, local codes, etc.. will not apply to you.

Learn all you can before you rent, you have just become a student in the rental world.

Good luck,

EJ
Offline
Last seen: 9 years 7 months ago
Joined: 03/14/2003 - 1:01am
Advice sought on "Landlord"-ing

All these horor stories about being a landlord.

People are great, you have to live somewhere.

I loved renting Starter apartments, managed many on Sherman and Grant St as well as owned 12 myself in various areas.

There is a psychology for renting, however YOU MUST SCREEN, GO TO EVICTION COURT the few weeks before you rent a unit, you would be surprised how many show up at your place asking to rent.

Some landlords are worse than tenants and give bad tenants GREAT referals. I called those people scumlords, that would not watch your back.

You have laws, and I would be sure you have a lease that has clauses for eviction, and clauses for non payment of rent.

As far as renting the Accessory Apartments, people have pointed out why I do not own in my own neighborhood.

You get a person who has consumed a good 12-24 beers who calls you at midnight to report a leaking faucet.

Or you are working on an apartment, (Painting) go out too watch a tenants' Ex Husband (who she kicked out to stay an eviction) walking up the stairs, Projectile Vomit all over the hallway, and you pound on their door and they refuse to clean it up.

Yep, you are in for a life change.

Tenants, I had one rule, treat everyone the same, Rent is due on the 1st, no check by the 3st, Call from me on the phone asking where it was.

I used to rent starter apartments to working class people, so I usually knew when Payday was, and knocked on doors, around dinner time.

Was very nervous some days, walking around with 12 units worth of rent, but that is the game.

Really bad tenants you can offer to pay them to move, usually cost less than court plus fustration.

landlord court you can go and repersent yourself, but that is stupid, however some landlords do this for a living.

Some tenants (the professional type) should be lawyers and know the ropes.

Back to subject at hand, Join your local landlord group, and MAOMA is great they have a Paid Lobbiest that prints out the bills off the website and gives it to the MAOMA Board.

Now with the JANIS search you can do the same thing.

PineTree leagal has not introduced a bill to get out an abusive husband or wife yet, California has a 24 hour notice in the Tenant at will laws that allows a landlord to kick out an abusive or destructive tenant, but that has not been able to get passed in maine.

Maine if you do not have a lease, requires a notice to quit be given after a tenant is 7 days late in rent.

The tenant has all day on the 1st, so 7 days late is Actually the 9th of the month.

If you are lucky you can server him, if not you have to try (spelled out in the law) 3 times before you post on the door and mail.

Then you must go to court, to get on the docket, have the court serve the papers ect.

OH the Tenant at will law allows the tenant to pay up and you have to let him live there still, they also have to pay any court fee you have made, but usually that does not happen.

If you serve the paperwork right, and get to court, be careful if you are a lease, dont let them pay up and move back in, or you now have a tenant at will..

OK enough of the bad things that always happen on Christmas Eve, (yep you have to be able to look out for your business scrouge).

Melvin Udall
Offline
Last seen: 6 hours 34 min ago
Joined: 05/01/2002 - 12:01am
Advice sought on "Landlord"-ing

Don't and never again resonate with me.

Everything is biased towards the tenant ("possession is 9/10 of the law.")

People can be unbelievably crude with someone else's property.

Naran
Offline
Last seen: 4 years 4 months ago
Joined: 10/06/2004 - 12:01am
Advice sought on "Landlord"-ing

EJ - I believe I was incorrect about Maine law requiring security deposits to be held in a separate escrow account. I may have been thinking of another state, which does require it.

I still would keep them in a separate account, if it were me, however.

Cuz
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 11 months ago
Joined: 05/08/2005 - 12:01am
Advice sought on "Landlord"-ing

Hi all,

Thanks for all the good posts on advice - sorry it took so long for me to post back, but daytime hours are usually not good for me to do so, and generally get my shot at going online later in the evenings.

Will do the first step first - will check in with the town to see how we are zoned and if it's legal for the spot I am in, and if the unit is listed as an additional dwelling spot...if that's a no go as is, that will solve the rest of the issues right there. If not, the town may also provide leads on if it can be zoned / registered etc - and how to go about that...will see where it goes.

Did find a copy of the book "Landlording" at the library and have read through the first few chapters...this is an older edition, but newer ones exist in state (latest I saw on a quick search was 2003) and if others are thinking along similar lines, copies can be borrowed though most of your local libraries - from what I've seen so far it is well worth the time to check out and peruse...good advice, well written in often humorous language.

Am somewhat familiar with MSRA tenants protections, having been one for many years, and having gone though a few hoops myself...lots to consider, but want you all to know I appreciate your efforts.

Thank you very much.

Naran
Offline
Last seen: 4 years 4 months ago
Joined: 10/06/2004 - 12:01am
Advice sought on "Landlord"-ing

Cuz - you are very welcome. That's one of the things I love most about AMG - the members have a wealth of life experience and wisdom of all kinds, and are willing to share it.

BangorTaxpayer
Offline
Last seen: 9 years 3 weeks ago
Joined: 08/27/2004 - 12:01am
Advice sought on "Landlord"-ing

I think you would find the meetings of the Greater Bangor Apartment Owners and Managers Association (GBAOMA) very helpful:

http://www.gbaoma.org

The June 19th meeting is the last before the summer break. Worth attending.

6/19/07 5:30pm
Bangor Motor Inn
$10.00 (buffet)

BlueJay
Offline
Last seen: 1 day 10 hours ago
Joined: 04/18/2005 - 12:01am
Advice sought on "Landlord"-ing

And Cuz, don't forget "Pacific Heights" with Michael Keaton! :shock:

attic owl
Offline
Last seen: 6 hours 55 min ago
Joined: 04/12/2000 - 12:01am
Advice sought on "Landlord"-ing

I Own and do not rent any longer one unit. I strongly recomend lyou get two times your rent as a security deposit. That is the best advice I can give you.

Cuz
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 11 months ago
Joined: 05/08/2005 - 12:01am
Advice sought on "Landlord"-ing

You guys are good....words to the wise that I will look long and hard at.

Can see, and have kind of felt that having someone live essentially in the backyard could be both very rewarding, and a nightmare. Will continue to look at the options, I hope well, before making any final decisions.

On a couple of side notes - voted no on both...and am impressed with the town of Clinton...may be a good place to live down the road.....

God bless you all.
Cuz

Log in to post comments