Property management is right now considered to be one of the hottest professions in the country. The demand for rental homes has skyrocketed ever since the real estate bubble burst. In addition to the massive number of foreclosures and short sales, the other causes for demand on rental properties include tough lending standards which make it nearly impossible to get a mortgage unless you have a stellar credit score, and the fact that many potential home buyers have decided to stay on the cautious side and rent instead of buy. The weak economy and high unemployment are also contributing causes. One of the biggest challenges facing property managers is ensuring that they comply with new and frequently changing regulations and prevent the potential landmine of lawsuits. A joint research conducted by the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) and the National Association of Realtors (NAR) surveyed their members and studied over 700 relevant cases that were decided over a 2-year period to determine the issues. According to the study, the following 3 issues caused some of the major legal problems for property managers:
- Debt Collection – 69% of the survey participants stated that debt collection was a big source for legal disputes. Foreclosures and job losses were the apparent root causes in this case
- Slip-and-Fall Accidents – 69% of the respondents cited slip/trip and fall type accidents to be one of the major causes
- Frivolous Lawsuits – 44% of the participants blamed meritless lawsuits for their legal problems. The increase in this type of litigation was attributed to the prevailing economy and high unemployment
When survey participants were asked about future issues causing potential legal problems, they cited various areas under the Fair Housing Act such as advertising and target marketing, familial status discrimination, handicap discrimination, and race and religious discrimination.