Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Two Important New Year's Resolution

It is an introspective time of year when many of us review how we have done over the past year and evaluate what we can do to improve in the New Year. Many of us will make resolutions that are quickly abandoned, which is okay if you are one of those people that makes my gym extra crowed during the first few weeks of January. However, some resolutions are worth sticking to.

In no particular order I have two resolutions that I request that all landlords and property management professionals to consider. They are fairly interrelated, so if it makes you feel better you can consider them one resolution.

Resolution No. 1: I will take an active role in forming the laws that regulate the rental industry.

This is not nearly as hard as it sounds, and, like many things, pretty easy once you get started. It is important to be involved at the local(municipal) level, state and federal level. At each level laws and regulations are promulgated that will effect the ease with which you conduct your business and the costs and fees involved. In North Carolina we also have the ability to influence who our judges are too, which may influence how the laws and rules are applied.

Their are two ways to influence legislation. One is time and the other is money. Money is the simplest part. It is worthwhile to contribute to organizations, people and parties that align with your interest and what you are trying to do. Time is a little more difficult to define and can include: working on campaigns; contact your legislator by telephone or in writing about a particular issue or piece of legislation; taking part in public comment periods on legislation or rulemaking; and educating like minded people around you.

But, how do you find out about what is happening? Well, you can start by paying attention. Not just listening to the 6:00 o'clock news, but actually doing your own research. You can set up some RSS feeds on areas you are interested in, if you are technically inclined. You can also take advantage of the various real estate investment and landlording organizations and the many educational opportunities that they offer. This brings me to:

Resolution No. 2: I will increase my knowledge of the laws and rules affecting the landlord-tenant industry.

There are many ways to do this. Unfortunately, I don't think you will be able to go to Barnes and Noble and get a book or magazine that will educate you all that well. So you will have to take a more proactive approach. There are a few vendors such as Lorman and the National Business Institute(NBI) that will from time to time offer relevant seminars.

However, there are several local organizations that offer monthly opportunities for you to increase this knowledge, both through formal presentations and informal discussions with other people who have experience in landlording and real estate investment. I would highly recommend joining the Triangle Real Estate Investors Association (TREIA), the Wake County Apartment Association (I don't think you actually have to own your properties in Wake County), and the Triangle Apartment Association (TAA). Both TREIA and TAA are local affiliates of national organizations and have chapter throughout the state and throughout the country. Both the TAA and TREIA have committees that attempt to engage the legislators and influence the laws that affect your bottoms line. Also, these groups often have sub-groups that will further focus on your areas of interest. I hear you can often even get free legal advice at the meetings. Additionally, the level of sophistication of the members of all of these groups varies from newbies to the more experienced,and you should never feel intimidated about attending.

Happy New Year and Happy Landlording!

Norm Praet, Esq.

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