If you are unsure whether you want to enjoy the benefits of being a landlord, first read the unique “What’s a Landlord to Do? Landlording Q & A’s” by best-selling author and longtime, successful landlord Leigh Robinson. The author, best known for his 330,000-copy best-seller book, “Landlording,” reveals his success secrets in this Q&A book where he candidly answers questions from tenants, new landlords, wannabe landlords and frustrated landlords.

In the book’s Preface, Robinson admits his 500-page “Landlording” book is too big, so he wrote this book as a “companion” to answer landlord and tenant questions. Most of the questions are practical and well organized, especially for landlords who want comfort and reassurance that landlording offers the advertised benefits of long-term financial security.

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Presumably, the questions have been piling up since Robinson wrote the first edition of “Landlording” about 15 years ago, and it’s about time he shared his answers. The majority of questions are serious, as are the answers. But a few are humorous, whether intended or not.

For example, there’s the landlord who already required $2,135 in security deposits and now demands $200 additional because the tenant wants to bring in a cat. Then there’s the tenant who had a careless kitchen stove fire that set off the fire sprinklers, damaging the tenant’s possessions. Now he wants to hold the landlord liable for damages caused by the fire sprinklers.

Some questions are downright difficult, with no easy answers. To illustrate, several tenants and landlords ask about how to handle termite fumigation where the tenants have to vacate for a few days while the landlord rids the property of termites. The issue is how much should the landlord pay the tenants for their inconvenience.

Lots of questions involve the advisability of hiring a so-called professional property management company to handle the day-to-day management details. After reading Robinson’s answers on this issue, which most realty investors ask about, it becomes apparent the author does not recommend hiring outside managers. Instead, he suggests the investor should instead hire resident managers, maintenance personnel, and a bookkeeper, as he does.

The primary audience for this book is landlords and prospective landlords. The book explains the serious and not-so-serious aspects of being a residential property investor. Although the questions don’t involve the “tenant from hell,” as shown in the classic movie “Pacific Heights,” which every landlord must see, many of the situations show how Robinson suggests preventing serious trouble.

But the book is not perfect. Probably because the author is a retired high school English teacher, the writing cannot be faulted. But the book’s bad format, with no space between paragraphs, makes for tough reading. Don’t try reading more than one or two chapters at a time. The content is superb, but the layout is awful.

Chapter topics include Investing in “Realty Property”; “Facing Life as a Landlord”; “Renting to Roommates”; “Listening to Tenants”; “Working with the Neighbors”; “Considering the Legalities”; “Tackling the Tenant Challenges”; “Coping with Pets and Pet People”; “Collecting the Rent”; “Keeping the Peace”; “Resolving Maintenance Concerns”; “Handling Deposits”; and “Handling Evictions and Move-Out Problems.”

The book’s last chapter, “Adapting to the Landlording Life,” emphasizes the benefits of being a landlord and how to minimize the problems. Especially enjoyable is the question from a former “heavy equipment operator” who never admits to his friends that he is really an undercover full-time landlord. On my scale of one to 10, despite the horrible layout and difficult readability, based on the superb content, this excellent book rates a solid 10.

“What’s a Landlord to Do? Landlording Q & A’S,” by Leigh Robinson (Express Publishing Co., El Cerrito, CA), 2005, $21.95, 218 pages; Available in stock or by special order at local bookstores, public libraries, and www.amazon.com.

(For more information on Bob Bruss publications, visit his
Real Estate Center
).

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