One of the most difficult books I have ever reviewed is “The Complete Landlording Book” by the editors of Socrates Media. Who the heck are they? Do they know what they wrote about? Was it a committee or a super-private individual who wrote this book?

Normally, I would have discarded this new book. However, I kept seeing it in bookstores, so it deserves to be read and reviewed. It is actually quite good, but with a few deficiencies.

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The easy-reading format makes for fast-paced reading. However, I never felt confidence in the mystery author’s statements. Maybe the writer is an experienced landlord in whom I should place great confidence. Or perhaps he or she is a “hired hack” that was paid to research the topics and doesn’t even own any rental properties.

The lack of real-life examples from the author’s experience, if there are any, is a glaring deficiency. Readers will have great difficulty relating to the many declarative property management opinion statements, which seem out of touch with reality.

For example, in the book’s first chapter “Pros and Cons of Landlording,” readers are treated to generic statements such as, “As long as you have paying tenants in all your rental units, landlording ensures a steady income.”

Shortly thereafter is a so-called “real-life experience” from Paul Lorenz, a landlord in Paducah, Ky., who says, “You have to take a leap of faith letting renters move into your property. You are giving people a home, and it is their home. You have to go with that.” As an average reader, statements like that made me wonder if there are any real benefits of being a landlord.

The book’s repeated emphasis on 3 a.m. tenant phone calls to the landlord is obsessive. As a landlord since 1967, I have never had a late-night phone call, although all my tenants had my phone number. The worst that happened to me was the boiler heat went out one evening in an apartment building, which I arranged to have repaired the next day.

Perhaps I emphasize the book’s negatives too much. It is filled with valuable facts that rental property owners, especially beginners, need to know. Toward the book’s conclusion, the fact-filled chapters reek of profitable content, such as necessary tenant and landlord insurance, how to select quality tenants without illegally discriminating, pros and cons of hiring a property management company, and rental policies.

As mentioned before, throughout the book, the glaring deficiency is lack of real-life examples from the experiences of the landlord author(s). A book compiled by “editors” who are not actual landlords is too general and theoretical for prospective and current landlords.

However, a valuable feature of this unique book is the included CD disk and the many Web site references where readers can obtain more information and valuable rental forms to use. This is an unusual added bonus for readers.

When I finish reading a real estate book, I usually feel it is a good book or one that is not worth reading. But this one is so non-specific, I had a very difficult decision about whether I should recommend it. The book is fact-filled, yet it is vague and inconclusive, lacking practicality and reality.

Chapter topics include “What Are You Getting Yourself Into”; “Property, Incorporation, Insurance and Taxes”; “Paperwork: Rents and Leases”; “Dealing with Tenants”; “Your Responsibilities”; and “Selling the Property.” The appendices are especially good as they include information about managing risk, and questions asked by landlords and tenants.

This strange book, created in an extremely readable format that includes significant Internet resources, is very difficult to evaluate. The lack of examples from the author(s)’ experiences creates credibility issues. On my scale of one to 10, this disappointing book earns a seven rating.

“The Complete Landlording Book,” by the editors of Socrates.com (Socrates Media LLC, Chicago), 2005, $19.95, 254 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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