As a Philadelphia Property Manager, I've come to see 1st hand the benefits my clients see by my company keeping them anonymous to the property tenants. It comes up time and again and with almost every property we manage.
I've had potential tenants show up at my home to argue why they were turned down for a rental property they really wanted. All turned down potential tenants, are turned down for good reason, they are warned before they apply for a property and they receive a letter specifically explaining why they did not get past our application process. It doesn't matter. They frantically call, come to our office and even track me down on social media or knock at my door.
We once took a new property owner that had a tenant contact, everyone, at his law firm, including partners, to complain. She had to reach out to 30 some associates and support staff and explain that she really wasn't a slum lord. This tenant, by the way, was upset that he had to pay for a window that broke during a party he threw.
As a rental property owner, you deserve privacy and for tenants to give you some respect for boundaries. But that doesn't always happen; so it's important for you to create your own.
And At times, it's more than just avoiding tenant hassles. We live in a world where some of us are very entitled and self-righteous. There is a percentage of us that will always believe they deserve more and that can become litigious.
As a Property Manager, I've learned, and I'm very successful at avoiding lawsuits. Winning a courtroom battle isn't hard, but even having to show up to court should be viewed as a loss. Owning a rental property makes you an investor. Litigation is a bad investment. So avoid it.
If you don't have that 1st line of defense of having a property management company protect you, here are some tips:
- Get a P.O. Box. A post office box is very inexpensive. They can forward you mail to any address you like. They can also be a regular street address, so you can avoid how "P.O. Box" looks.
- Anonymous Phone Number. There are several ways to get a phone number, some free and in the Cloud (like Google Voice). These phone numbers have voicemail, text, forwarding. They can be set for only certain hours and if someone searches the number online, the search will only go as far as you have used that number.
- Social Media Privacy Settings. Set up your privacy settings, or expect lawyers, tenants and potential tenants tracking you down.
- A Separate Bank Account. A property manager keeps you legal and properly handling rental property funds is a big part of that, so there are several reasons to have individual accounts. But for the purpose of this conversation, its one more barrier of protection.
- Introduce Yourself as the Property Manager. I own rental property and I have my company Grow Property Management, manage it. When I talk to the tenants, I introduce myself, not as the property owner; but as the property manager. This protects me. It also allows a buffer when tenant requests are unreasonable. The tenants know they can't bully a property manager. But with an owner they will always try. It doesn't matter how experienced you are at managing your own properties. Tenants will always assume you know less. So introduce yourself as the property manager.
- Set Up a Legal Entity. As a property manager, I must say that this won't protect you. An LLC really needs to be properly set up and properly run. A property manager should be able to help you with some of this, including the right attorney. It is a barrier of protection. And it does hide your name.
As a rental property landlord can you stay anonymous in today's world?
Of course, you can't, but you can certainly make it hard to find you. You can make it so most tenants and even some of the attorneys give up.