Do you rent to Lawyers?

50 Replies

So let me preface this with, I go waaaaaaay out of my way to provide the best life and apartments I can for my tenants. I would argue that any property owner, regardless how big or small they are, could compete with the level of care I give my tenants.

I follow the laws and go well beyond what my responsibilities are as a landlord, mainly because, I love taking care of people and making their lives better while they’re in my buildings.

Alright, that all said, I have to know. Has anyone else actively refused to rent to a lawyer?

I’ve had more than one lawyer come to me to rent. Now luckily other qualified tenants appeared before them and I had valid options before they came along, so I was never put in a position to deny them solely on their profession. HOWEVER, I’d be lying if I said I wanted to rent to them. I've had my fair share of time dealing with people in the legal system as I was a MP in the Army for some years. I don't want to get into a legal pissing contest with a tenant so I'd prefer not rent to someone who's dangerous. 

I did about 10 seconds of research to find out if this was legal or not before I posted this so know it is legal to deny someone based on their profession (with the exceptions listed in the post)

@Anthony R. I realize this doesn’t address your question; but I’ve found lawyers to be no more difficult than the average tenant. As long as the landlord is a professional operator and the property is well maintained, there’s really no reason for them to cause trouble.

Originally posted by @Matt Clark :

Anthony R. I realize this doesn’t address your question; but I’ve found lawyers to be no more difficult than the average tenant. As long as the landlord is a professional operator and the property is well maintained, there’s really no reason for them to cause trouble.

 I think that addresses the question :-) 

Thank you for the input

@Anthony R. I do not rent to attorneys. They are not a protected class so there is no legal risk of denying them outright. You can do the same for people with facial tattoos, smokers, people that drive a Miata, and professional clowns.

I have had terrible experience with attorneys, as renters and Landlords. The last attorney to rent from me was always late with rent and extremely arrogant about it. I filed at least six 3-day Notices on him and started the eviction four months in a row. Each time, he paid the rent right before the court date and then did it again the next month. He also sent me a two-page document full of legalese, arguing that I had no authority to collect rent. I sent him a two-line response that basically said he signed a contract and would abide by it or he could choose to impress the judge with his $5 legal jargon. 

I have my issues documented. If another attorney comes along, I will probably deny them. If they demand to know why, I'm happy to show documentation of the troubles I've had.

Originally posted by @Nathan G. :

@Anthony R. I do not rent to attorneys. They are not a protected class so there is no legal risk of denying them outright. You can do the same for people with facial tattoos, smokers, people that drive a Miata, and professional clowns...

Thanks for sharing your experience. This was my exact inference of what would happen if I rented to a lawyer. We're all human and if things don't go our way it's reasonable to assume that we'd use the tools at our disposal to make things right in our own eyes. I can only assume that if I did something a lawyer didn't like, they'd be up in arms over it and I'd be in court constantly. No thanks. 

@Anthony R. That's a great question brother and I just wanted to say good job man. You sound like a great guy and I commend you on your mindset and pride you take in being an amazing land lord. I usually like to give people the benefit of the doubt but after reading through BP for some time I have seen and heard that no good deed goes unpunished. Although they may be a great person etc I would just avoid it. There are too many ways it could go wrong and I don't think you should be putting that additional pressure on yourself. I'm glad @Nathan G. shared his experience because that is what I think would happen all too often. I know it may be a once in a blue moon experience but there are enough risks and troubles as it is being a land lord I don't think you should add another risk and liability to the already tall order.  I wish you the best of luck and keep doing what you are doing brother!

@Anthony R. we have had bad experiences with all tenants. All races, ages etc.. If you have a quality product you should have no worries but an attorney or a crazy tenant who has a mother or father who is an attorney and just as crazy can make you life miserable.  You just need to screen your applicants best you can and then be the best landlord you can be and run your portfolio like a business. Then the rest is out of your control.

I am with @Ian Hoover on this. @Nathan G. there is absolutely nothing in your dealings with that crappy tenant that would set him apart from any other professional tenant. Screening is everything.

As a lawyer I can tell you that there are crack pots and crazy tenants in every profession. But any thorough screening can protect against it. 

I would also say that the vast majority of us hold ourselves to a higher standard, especially when entering into legally binding relationships. A referral to the state bar association for bad conduct is something that we would dread.

That being said I would love to be in court to watch you defend yourself against a discrimination suit when you refused to rent to a black attorney. “But,but,but your Honor it isn’t because he is black, it is because he is a lawyer.”

Yes, that did just sound as ridiculous as you think it did!

Best of luck!

What kind of legitimate lawyer would want to spend hour(s) defending a claim for a couple grand overdue rent in what amounts to basically a notch below traffic court ...? I realize law school is a different animal in the USA than here but good grief. They can’t be THAT lax on entry requirements can they?! Who values their time that little as a trained professional? Not me. But then I’m no lawyer I guess.

@Patrick M. you are wrong. I rented a single-family home to an attorney with great credit, income was 6x the rent, and his Landlord reference was excellent. On my scale of 1-30 he scored a 28. So everything looks good according to an objective screening process and he was a pretty good tenant for the first nine months or so. Then he started running late, three months in a row and was fighting me about late fees, 3-day Pay or Quit Notices, etc. He was 15 days late on the third month so I sent him our printed policy regarding rent payments, late fees, etc. This was his response:

Dear Nathan:
Thank you for your recent correspondence. You have contacted me on several occasions to collect an outstanding debt you claim is owed. I am contacting you to formally request validation of the alleged debt concerning this account and to inform you that I hereby dispute the validity of this debt.
I am also requesting you provide documentation showing I am, and should be, the party responsible for paying for improvements made to the property I rent. As you recall, I spent $1,130.00 for the removal of the tree, stump, petrified wood, installation of more gravel and labor associated therewith. See attached Invoice.
Through this letter, I hereby request proof that I am indeed the party you are asking to pay this alleged debt, and for proof that there is a binding contractual obligation to pay this alleged debt. Please provide adequate validation of this alleged debt, including but not limited to documentation of:
  • Complete payment history, the requirement of which has been established via Spears v. Brennan, 745 N.E. 2d 862 (Ind. Ct. App. 2001);
  • The agreement bearing the signature of me, wherein I agreed to pay;
  • The letter of sale or assignment from the original creditor to your company. (Agreement with your client that grants you the authority to collect on this alleged debt.) Coppola v. Arrow Financial Services, 2002 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 26788 (D. Conn. 2002) - Information relating to the purchase of a bad debt is neither proprietary nor burdensome. Debtor must clearly phrase their request to obtain: the source of a debt and the amount a bad debt buyer paid for plaintiff’s debt; how amount sought was calculated; where in issue a list of reports to credit bureaus; and documents conferring authority on third party to collect debt.
  • Documentation of the creation of the debt with your collection agency.
Under FDCPA Section 809 (b), you are not allowed to pursue collection activity until the debt is validated. You should be made aware that reporting a collection account is indeed considered a collection activity. Boatley v. Diem Corp., 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5089 (D. Ariz. 2004.
Please be advised that I am enforcing my rights under the FDCPA and under Wyoming's Landlord/Tenant Act, and that this correspondence shall in no way reflect a waiver of any of the rights prescribed under either of those Acts which are not expressly asserted herein. Please cease your collection activity until I receive confirmation through the above information requested. Please also direct any future correspondence to me in writing.

I had a strong, written lease agreement. We also had a written agreement detailing what improvements he could make to the landscaping, that all changes would be done by professional landscapers, and that he would pay for every dime of it. This was at his request, by the way.

I'll put that in front of a judge any day of the week.

And you’ve got a copy of photo ID I assume?

I personally choose not to rent to lawyers, legal aid, police officers or social workers. I have interacted with these professions a fair bit and find that generally speaking they have certain personality traits that I feel could make them difficult tennats.

@Nathan G. very well done on your part, but again nothing that any professional tenant wouldn’t pull.

So as I said: there is nothing there that would set him apart- whether a professional tenant hires an attorney or cuts and pastes it.

Again, well done on your part. I am sure your screening is good- I personally don’t discriminate based on a person’s lawful employment, that would convolute the very useful factors that I do use.

Best of luck.

There are nut jobs in every profession and there are plenty of horrible tenants in every profession.

The big difference I see with lawyers is that they have that extra knowledge and training to try and make your life miserable if they choose to do so. When it comes to legal issues they will often think they are 10x smarter than you and will try to use their knowledge to bully you into doing whatever they want. Much of a lawyers job is to try and convince the other side that they are right and the other party is wrong......and when it comes to tenant issues, they will do the same. That's is what they do......they professionally argue. So expect some push back on a lot of issues that may come up where the average tenant is going to go with the flow with you running the show (if you do it right)

Never had to address this issue, but I would have serious reservations about renting to a lawyer.

Law enforcement can be the same.....part of their job is often to "take control of a situation" and they often have some "bravado" where they will try and use intimidation to take that control

But as always, this is a pretty big generalization...lots of very nice lawyers that may be great tenants

There are loons in every profession. However, I live in a small, conservative town where everyone knows everyone's business and we see the bad behavior. In my opinion, there is no other profession in this area with a higher percentage of crooks, cheats, and scoundrels.

One of my friends is an attorney and I talked to him about this over lunch a couple years ago. When I told him I didn't want to rent to attorneys he said, "Good for you! I wouldn't rent to attorneys either!"

Your mileage may vary.

@Anthony R. @Thomas S. Wow, call me naive, but I would never rule out a certain profession as a prospective tenant. If you vet your tenants properly and abide by your respective L/T laws, your tenants profession should be irrevevant. What's the difference between renting to an attorney or renting to a truck driver who just happens to have the best L/T attorney in the state? Btw, would you rent to a proctologist?

Well, I guess I won't be renting to lawyers or cops. That's rough cause they typically both get paiiiiiid.

One of my tenants is a recognizable politician. Definitely had concerns about that at first.

I just rejected a tenant recently because his girlfriend is a housing advocate for immigrants and the poor and pointed out two ostensible violations on my advert and lease. Do you think I want to rent to this self/entitled millennial and spend my time fighting against a fake lawyer let alone a real one? I’m with Nathan G. On this, I will deny rent to anyone I please as long as they are not a protected class.

@Steve B. After she informed you of your violations, wouldn’t  you have denied them even if she was a professional figure skater? Would you have approved them if she didn’t say anything about them?

Also you say: “I will deny rent to anyone I please as long as they are not a protected class.” Does that mean you will rent to a black man who is a lawyer?

I am really out of my depth here with you guys and the various people and professions you discriminate against. I am very thankful not to use it, it seems that it would add a level of complexity to my screening process and render it far less effective.

Again, I would hate to be in the position of representing a landlord who said “It’s not because he’s Hispanic, it’s because he’s a fireman. Those damn firemen!”

And @Steve B.- To be clear, I would not have rented to her either. Not because she was providing assistance to the poor- but because of her idiotic and antagonistic actions.

Happy 50th anniversary to the Fair Housing Act everyone! (11-April-1968) 

@Patrick M. you conflating two unrelated issues to create a fallacy of composition.  That’s an interesting point about black firemen but has absolutely nothing to do with my response

Boy am I in trouble! In my apt building I have the current chief counsel for the town, a former judge, and a retired federal officer. Haha! Yes no kidding. They all qualified and are tenants that I inherited; I think they are OK; but we will see how it plays out.

@Steve B. not at all- just pointing out the slippery slope. An African American man who is a lawyer is a member of a protected class. Just as a single mother who is a police officer or a wheel chair bound veteran. Any landlord could say, as has been suggested here, that they are discriminating against them merely because they are a lawyer or a police officer or a veteran and not because of their class status. I don’t think it passes muster and I think it creates more potential problems than the perceived benefits.

what does being black have to do with being a lawyer?  So you think I should be fearful of the state misinterpreting my actions and thus do something I don’t want to do because otherwise a wrongheaded judge may punish me?    Sorry,  I don’t make fear based decisions proactively 

A professional tenant, or a tenant that misbehaves for the first time in their rental-life, can be found with anyone from any background and any profession. The problem with an attorney is that they can defend themselves for free, or at least know enough to drag you through the legal process. A normal tenant will have to front the money for their representation unless you have broken some law in which they know you will have to pay their legal fees - ie if they owe 1k in rent, they likely won't have the $$ to pay an atty a 2.5k retainer just to drag out the case (some still may). But an attorney-tenant can put you through hell for free.

Its not so much a concern that they actually understand the tenant/landlord laws and will hold you to every letter of the law. As was in @Nathan G. 's case, the atty was citing nonsense. But that nonsense can buy them a ton of time and you having to respond will cost you a ton of $$ when they start filing frivolous motions and demanding jury trial, all at no legal cost to them.

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