Legal Considerations of Owning a Rental Property in Baltimore
It has been a year since you and your spouse bought your first rental property in Baltimore, MD, and things are going great! You sat in on real estate seminars specific to the Baltimore market, read all the investment books, joined in on online discussion boards, and now all the hard work is starting to pay off. Each month that rent check comes in like clockwork and you are realizing a profit, a small one, but still, it is a profit. You think “this is easy, why aren’t more people doing this?”
And then you come home from work one day, grab the mail, and head to the house and there it is . . . a letter from a law firm. Turns out that one of the children living in your rental property has elevated lead levels and you are about to be sued.
No worries, this is why you have insurance, right? You give your insurance agent a call and find out you have a lead paint exclusion in your policy. The worst-case scenario has surfaced – no coverage. You are on your own.
Legal Risks of Owning a Baltimore Rental Property
What does this mean? What happens if the lawyer sues and gets a judgment? Since you and your spouse are both on the title of the Baltimore rental property and also on the title to your primary residence, your home is at risk. It is possible that the lawyer can force a sale of your home to squeeze the equity out to satisfy the judgment.
If the sale of your home does not return enough funds to satisfy the judgment, the lawyer can also seek to collect by garnishing your wages or seizing your personal assets. This goes for your spouse, too.
A friend suggests that bankruptcy may stop this terrible slide but then it will be years before you fully recover from your filing and you can see that dream of being a real estate mogul slowly slipping away.
Take Title of Baltimore Rental Property in LLC
Interested in how to prevent the likelihood of this scenario becoming a reality? Go back in time and take title to the rental property in a limited liability company (“LLC”). Get in touch with Baltimore’s best real estate attorney at Heise & Heise and we will be happy to explain the structure and how to begin the process to protect your future.