Residential Property Rental Ethics
Managing residential rental property is not easy. Not only do you have laws that must be abided by you also have ethical dilemmas to consider. The number of ethical situations that you encounter while managing residential rental property is astounding. I have been working in residential rental property management for two years and four months and am continually surprised by the situations that I encounter dealing with tenants and owners.
My job title is Accounts Manager and my duties are collections, evictions, and other aspects as needed. As the person in the office who handles evictions I deal with the laws and court all the time. Landlord and tenant laws vary from state to state. I live in Mississippi so the laws that I am most familiar with are the landlord and tenant laws of Mississippi. I have been in my current position for one year and two months and we manage about 13 apartment complexes, four duplexes, two mobile home parks, and seventeen single family homes. Prior to my current position I was a resident manager for a privately owned apartment complex. Laws and Regulations
In the state of Mississippi in order to be a property manager and receive a commission for your services you must be a licensed real estate agent. You can be a property manager without a real estate license by not receiving commission but by receiving a wage. Mississippi residential landlord-tenant laws can be found in The Mississippi Code of 1972 Section 89 Chapter 8 and free version can be accessed on the internet at http://www.mscode.com/free/statutes/89/008/index.htm . Not only must realtors who manage rental property must follow the law but realtors are required to follow any regulations that are posted by the associations that they are affiliated with. In Mississippi all realtors must be registered with the Mississippi Real Estate Commission and there is a national organization that they can join called The Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM). There is also a national organization called The National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM) that residential property managers can join. The National Association of Residential Property Managers has standards of professionalism and a code of ethics that all members must abide by. This can be accessed on the internet at www.narpm.org/about/ethics/code-of-ethics.htm . Simply following the laws is not enough though. We must also make ethical decisions as well. The best way to determine if you are making the correct ethical choice is to ask yourself how you would feel or be viewed if your family or the public found out about your decision (York, 2012). Security Deposits
Security deposits are a major source of ethical concerns. During my research it was the one subject that I found more than one article on. Proper handling and documentation of security deposits is important to prevent you from doing something that is illegal or unethical (Zucker-Maltese, 2004). If a property manager cannot or does not know how to properly handle security deposits then they are not any good at their job and you should find another manager (Hanlin, 2012). In Mississippi security deposits must be held in an escrow account and you have 45 days after lease termination to process the security deposit and if you keep any or all you must provide a detailed statement of why.
We have a process that works great to make sure that we cover all legal and ethical aspects. First we have a security deposit agreement that is signed by the tenant when we receive their security deposit and we give them a move in inventory and condition form to fill out. We tell them to put any stains on the carpet, tears in the flooring, holes in the wall, minor maintenance issues, etc. on it. We have a security deposit transmittal form that we will start filling out upon...