Stubborn misconceptions about landlords and property managers have led to some disastrous legislation. It’s time to make your voice heard.


Despite Aristotle’s evidence (circa 330 B.C.) that the Earth is round, its shape nevertheless was hotly debated for centuries thereafter. Even today, “flat Earth societies” still exist, based on a belief that the Earth is flat.

A comparison can be drawn with landlording. (No, really!) 

General apathy among landlords has allowed groups with vested interests to create similarly relentless misconceptions about our community, which could have a devastating impact on all parties involved.

The root cause of landlord apathy

Why does apathy exist in the landlord community? It is an unintended—and unfortunate—result of an arm’s-length concern toward legislation and policy over the years. While landlord-tenant laws have been catching up to modern times to ensure fairness and equity for both parties, strong tenant advocacy groups have rallied for—and successfully pushed through—legislation that tilts in favor of the tenant. While small business and independent landlords are a silent majority of rental housing in the United States (53 percent), they are missing a collective voice with policy makers. Hence, landlord indifference.

One can look to Baltimore, Maryland, as a prime example. When a tenant advocacy publication asserted that its Rent Court—established to provide a remedy to landlords for nonpayment of rent—is unfair to tenants, Senate Bill 801 was created. And it almost passed.

While proposed with noble intent, there were many false “truisms” that legislation couldn’t remedy. And it actually would have done very little to help tenants, while shifting significant burdens onto the landlord.

The bill sought to:

  • Supersede the definition of rent, regardless of what is written and agreed to in a signed lease
  • Add a $30 surcharge on each case filed in court, and use that money to fund a tenant advocacy group
  • Require landlords to send a “Notice of Default”
  • Add trial delays
  • Prohibit variable-cost utilities from being included in the filing

Why should this debate matter to landlords outside of Baltimore, Maryland? Law and policy have a strong tendency to migrate across state borders, evolving over time to reflect contemporary social values and ethics. The basis of tenant-landlord law was common law until 1972 when the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (URLTA) was created, and later adopted in at least 20 states.

The bottom line is this: Tenant advocacy groups pushing for social justice have a loud voice, while the small business and independent landlords are effectively mute. It’s time for the “silent majority” to organize and bring a collective voice to the discussion.

The challenge for landlords

Our challenge as a community of small business and independent landlords is a general lack of organization and sufficient data. Recent legislation attempts like Baltimore’s SB 801 seek to shift the personal responsibility of tenants to the landlord. This kind of feel-good legislation sounds great in political conversations to win votes. But ultimately, if passed, this legislation would have adversely impacted the financial ability of landlords to provide affordable housing—meaning both sides lose!

Consider the cost to landlords. Baltimore had 6,880 eviction filings in the fiscal year 2015. The average time to evict and turn over a unit, and then re-rent, is approximately four months. With an average cost of lost rent and turnover of $4,000 (median rent of $944), the cost to landlords for evictions in Baltimore is $27 million annually. And nationally? Assuming a 3 percent eviction rate in the United States, with an average cost to landlords of $3,250, the total is $4 billion annually. And it’s the small business and independent landlords who are hit with the majority of this burden. They don’t have a national organization to help, or a political action committee to lobby on their behalf.

Let’s face it. Some of us became landlords by accident, and we depend on rent to pay the mortgage. We are not against tenants, and in fact, are sympathetic to those who struggle to pay the rent. But landlord advocacy is sorely missing as a counterbalance to intense tenant advocacy. We must shift the conversation and help legislators and policy makers understand the cost of their actions to all involved, and work to create legislation where everyone wins. What is needed is a rally for change, to reshape the lens through which our landlord community is viewed.

Strength in numbers: a collective voice

We created a local meetup group as a nonprofit landlord advocacy group. It grew organically as people learned of its mission: Proactively empower small business and independent landlords to avoid pitfalls and costly mistakes, and to be a professional steward to the rental community. It brings a collective voice to the diaspora of landlords who feel their voice won’t be heard. Influential voices are calling for it to grow nationally.

We are proud to work with Think Realty to announce our launch of the National Association of Independent Landlords ( To be a true force for change, we need the participation of every landlord and property manager—because all landlords and property managers have a vested interest in landlord advocacy.

Our first lobby effort is scheduled for May when we will be spending a day on Capitol Hill and meeting with U.S. congressional representatives and regulators.

You can help in three ways:

  1. Help us show strength in member numbers: Sign up for free at
  2. Invite your constituents to join, especially if you are an organizer of a REIA or meetup group.
  3. Volunteer your special skills. Contact me on the meetup member page.

By building our membership, we can show strength in numbers and a constituency across state borders. As a member, voice your concerns with a quick survey, and tell us your story. We’ll collate the information and be a collective voice for the small business and independent landlord. We’ll take it to the Hill!

By virtue of inaction, we are left with the aftermath of legislation and policies that we can only react to. Let’s work together to create an environment that is fair and in the best interest of all parties involved.

Categories | Article | Market & Trends
  • Brian Wojcik

    Brian Wojcik is the founder of and and a regular contributor to Think Realty Magazine. He may be reached at

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