If, you are a landlord with extensive rental property, sooner or later, you are bound to end up in need of legal assistance. Once you have zeroed in on a lawyer with extensive experience on landlord-tenant and rental property issues, it would be a good idea to discuss and agree upon fees and fee arrangement, during your initial meeting with him / her. The fee agreement should clearly set out services expected of the lawyer, type of fees, and what the lawyer expects you to pay. As well, the agreement should identify the handling of costs, including an explanation of the lawyer’s billing practices.
While, discussing lawyer fees and costs, you should cover the following topics:
- Type of Fee Arrangement: How is the lawyer going to bill you? Will he / she bill you on an hourly basis, or is it a contingency fee arrangement, or will you have to pay a retainer fee?
- Permissible Cost Types: It should be absolutely clear which costs are to be passed on to you e.g. whether you will pay for photocopying, if so how much per page? Will electronic research charges be reversed to you? Before proceeding, ascertain you both are in agreement as to the costs to be paid by you, and the rate at which you will pay them.
- Fees and Costs Estimation: If, you are hiring a lawyer for an eviction case or some such matter, find out what the case will cost? The exact amount of time and effort required to handle your case may not be easily determined, but the lawyer should be in a position to give you a fair estimate of both fees and costs based upon past experience.
- Frequency and Detail of Billing: Also, find out how often the billing will be done and, whether interest or other charges will be added to unpaid amounts. Ensure your lawyer’s bills include service details along with itemisation of costs. In case, the lawyer is working on a contingency arrangement, you need to know how often he / she will bill you for costs, and when you will receive payment for favourably resolved cases.
- Basic Charges: In case, your lawyer charges by the hour, find out the minimum billing segment, whether it is one-quarter or one-tenth of an hour, or what? For example, you may be billed for a tenth of an hour (six minutes), just for a simple three minute telephone call. Check with the lawyer, whether work done by others i.e. associates, legal assistants, or paralegals, will also be billed to you.
- Control: Check out how much control you will have over legal fees and expenses? In case you want to be notified after fees and expenses reach a certain amount, let the lawyer know, the same goes for notification before the lawyer incurs an expense over a certain amount?
Take notes during your meeting with the lawyer, in order to be aware of what has been agreed upon, and based on your discussions, the fee arrangement should be put in writing. Most lawyers have pre-printed fee agreements to be signed by clients. If, the agreement does not include the terms discussed, ask the lawyer to change the phrasing, ensuring the agreement states clearly what has been agreed upon by both you and the lawyer.
However, landlords can avoid unnecessary litigation by screening prospective tenants and employees, as well as, conducting background checks, simply by visiting www.e-renter.com for tenant screening and background check services.