Meet Leslie A. Margolies, Esq. Licensed Pennsylvania Attorney. Landlord Tenant Lawyer. Fierce Consumer Advocate. Over 32 Years of Civil Litigation Experience. Founder of The Real Estate Law Group. Licensed PA Realtor with Specialization in Helping Buy and Hold Investors. Certified Negotiator. And an Experienced Landlord herself with both private rentals and Section 8 properties. For more infomation about Attorney Margolies click here.
A FIERCE CONSUMER ADVOCATE
Some of you may be wondering who is this Professor Landlord and what is Landlord College™? If you are one of my former clients, and have had the opportunity to see me in action in Landlord Tenant Court, then you already know that I am a fierce advocate for the rights of my clients. I become like an enraged Mama Bear who just caught someone messing with one of her precious bear cubs. I have represented both landlords and tenants and I am equally passionate no matter which side I am on. There is no right side or wrong side in this particular type of relationship. Clearly, there are relatively equal numbers of both problem tenants and lousy landlords everywhere. My passion in the courtroom is not about taking sides. Rather, it comes from that instinctual feeling in my gut that an injustice has occurred. I recognize that feeling in an instant. My client has been wronged and it is my job to make things right.
THE KNOWLEDGE VOID
When you fight these legal battles for as long as I have, you begin to see patterns of behavior and common pitfalls. Many of these mistakes arise from a fundamental lack of knowledge of the law and the nature of the landlord-tenant relationship. Oftentimes, neither party understands their own rights or how to implement them. Tenants routinely sign leases without any comprehension of what they are signing. When they get frustrated about a lack of repairs, they withhold rent improperly and for all the wrong reasons. And you would be shocked (or at least should be) at how many landlords lack a basic understanding of the laws that govern their business. Most of the time, they do not know or understand the terms of their own lease agreement and failed to recognize even basic tenant rights. Clearly there was a knowlege void and landlords were not finding the information they needed.
THE BLAME GAME
Like any other relationship, landlords and tenants fall into predictable traps. Instead of recognizing the mistakes we made and how we contributed to the demise of the relationship, we blame the other party. When a relationship ends badly, it is always the other person's fault, right? Tenants convince themselves that all landlords are greedy and don't care about anything but the rent. Landlords convince themselves that all tenants are careless and irresponsible and don't even deserve to live in their property. In the end, neither party really gives much thought to their own ignorance of the law or how the lousy landlord tenant relationship culminated in the issues which landed them in court. And most of the time, emotions run so high on both sides that neither party can think straight, neverthless see the potential compromise which might have resolved the situation.
I am not exaggerating when I talk about the emotional aspect of landlord tenant cases. Half the time I feel like I am in family court! I have seen landlords shoot themselves in the foot over and over again. What I mean is that they are so angry that they fail to accept any reasonable resolution offered. It was this type of stubborn refusal to see the big picture and make the rational decision that was best for their business that made me think about the lack of educational resources for landlords. After watching landlords waste their time and money fighting unnecessary battles in court, I realized that there was a desperate need for someone to teach these landlords how to manage their own rental properties. We have educational tools and even licensing requirements for almost every other type of profession and skilled job.
THE STORY OF THE SHORT-SIGHTED COBRA
I thought a lot about the lack of educational resources for landlords on a daily basis in my legal practice. It was painfully obvious from every landlord tenant case that walked in the door. But the real inspiration came one day when I saw a story on Facebook about a cobra who had wandered into a hardware store. I know it sounds strange, but bear with me. The cobra slithered past a wood saw and inadvertently cut himself on its sharp edges. Instinctively identifying the saw as his enemy, he went into "attack" mode. The cobra wrapped himself tightly around the saw hoping to squeeze the life out of his attacker. When he felt the sharp edges of the saw biting him back, he wrapped himself around the saw even tighter, determined to defeat his foe. In the end, the cobra killed himself because he refused to yield his death grip on that wood saw. The photograph of that dead bloody cobra wrapped around the saw was inspirational. I don't know why but that image suddenly made me think of all the unwitting landlords in district and municipal court. The eviction complaint was their death grip around the tenant and they stubbornly refused to yield to any reasonable resolution, despite the fact that it would hurt them most in the end (perhaps even eliminate their entire year of profits). We will refer back to this poor cobra several times throughout our curriculum at Landlord College, particularly when we discuss why a tenant appeal is so devastating for your business.