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Book Review

Making a Good Case for Landlords

November 05, 2000|ROBERT J. BRUSS

"Every Landlord's Legal Guide," 4th Edition, by Marcia Stewart and attorneys Ralph Warner and Janet Portman (Nolo Press, Berkeley, 2000), $44.95, 355 pages, CD-ROM forms included.

Complete, detailed, accurate, practical, easy-to-understand and superb are the words that describe the new fourth edition of "Every Landlord's Legal Guide" by Marcia Stewart, Ralph Warner and Janet Portman. Every residential landlord in all 50 states should be required to read this outstanding book and to keep it handy for reference.

This unique advisory law book for landlords makes landlord-tenant law understandable and even enjoyable. After reading this book, there is no excuse for any landlord to make a serious legal mistake.

The text includes easy references to the specific state statutes on each subject discussed, such as maximum security deposits, required deadline to return tenant security deposits and the minimum time for giving rent increase notices.

The book is written in simple English with no legalese. It is filled with practical advice, such as how to avoid illegal discrimination while screening tenant applicants and still avoid renting to those unqualified. Readers are cautioned when state-specific forms or rental agreement wording must be used.

A special feature is the tear-out rental forms that landlords can photocopy: tenant applications, rental and lease agreements, move-in checklists and notices to tenants. A CD-ROM containing all the forms is included, with instructions.

Although two of the authors are lawyers, the book explains how to avoid hiring an attorney. Preventing law violations and legal disputes are also emphasized. Practical legal advice is abundant, such as, "Take care of your reputation. If you are a landlord with many rental units and regularly use the local Small Claims Court, make sure that every case you bring is a good one. You do not want to lose your credibility with the court in future cases by ever appearing to be unfair or poorly prepared."

The book's appendix includes specific references to important state rental laws. It also includes the required lead-based paint disclosure booklet to photocopy for new tenants (or buyers) of pre-1978 constructed residences.

Every landlord should study this book to avoid making mistakes and to maximize their income property ownership benefits.

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