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Zillow Stirs Up The Pot

While surfing through the headlines I came upon a blog post on titled, Landlords, Test Your Rental IQ.  The post described a survey that purported to show that half of landlords and over half of renters did not understand basic landlord/tenant laws.  For example, here are some of the survey’s supposed findings.

  • 82% or renters / 76% of landlords lack understanding of laws concerning security deposits, credit, and background checks.
  • 77% of renters / 69% of landlords lack understanding of privacy and access rights.
  • 62% of renters / 50% of landlords lack understanding of laws on early lease termination.

Interesting I thought.

Reading on, I noticed that there was a link to a “Rental IQ Quiz.”  OK Zillow you got me.  I had to click on that to check my landlord IQ.  After all, I have been a landlord for over ten years now.  I have read and re-read the Tennessee Landlord/Tenant Act.  I should have a pretty good understanding of things right?  Nope, I do not according to Zillow.

However, I call BS.  Zillow is just trying to stir up the post and generate controversy.

Why? Because it seems to me that this survey is poorly designed and worded.  Or perhaps it was very cleverly designed and worded.  Designed to stir up controversy and create bullet points like the ones listed above.  You decide.  Here are a couple of questions reprinted from the survey.

As a landlord, I am allowed to reject an applicant if I discover he or she has been convicted of illegal drug use while living in a previous rental.  True of False

As a landlord, you must make yourself, or someone you designate to act on your behalf, available to your tenants 24 hours a day in the event of an emergency.   True or False

As a landlord, it is within my right to enter the rental property to make emergency repairs whenever I need to.  True or False

So what are your answers?  Mine were true, false and true.  According to Zillow, those answers are incorrect.  Zillow then had the audacity to call me a “semi-pro” landlord! 

So Zillow, are you telling is that drug users are a protected class?  No they are not.  I can legally discriminate against drug users and do. 

And Zillow, I understand that things happen in the middle of the night, but I have to sleep as well.  I know of no law or statute, at least here in Tennessee that says I have to make myself available 24/7.

It is the last one that really gets me however.  Is Zillow telling me that if there is a gushing water leak, a gas leak or some other major problem of immediate concern I can’t go in and fix it unless I give notice?  Wrong!  In fact state statute here in Tennessee expressly authorizes me to enter a property to fix an emergency. I have to in order to protect my property and other tenants.  Now that does not mean that I will not try to contact the tenant, but if I can’t, I’m going in.  And if subsequent repairs are needed, of course I am going to work with the tenant after the emergency is over.

Zillow is spot on in the article when they say that landlords need to know and keep up with their local laws and regulations.  But these survey questions are simply suspect, designed only to stir up controversy and generate hits on a webpage.

So next time you are reading something and you wonder to yourself, “How did they come up with that nonsense?”  Remember this prime example and remember also not to believe everything you read.

6 Responses to “Zillow Stirs Up The Pot”
  1. JanneZack says:

    Nicely put!

  2. Lol! Im with Kevin! I had my doubts, Kevin, when I saw it, but its nice to have a landlord as experienced as you call BS too! :-)

  3. Jon says:

    Actually, my city statute requires “providing a twenty-four-hour emergency telephone number for the landlord or his or her agent” on buildings of 5 units or more. YMMV.

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