Landlord-tenant law is a unique facet of real estate law. Landlord-tenant lawyers deal with the relationship between property owners (landlords) and renters of that property (tenants). These attorneys may represent landlords or tenants. They often draw up leases for landlords or, on the flip side, may help renters to retrieve a security deposit from a landlord.
Federal laws often protect tenants’ rights as they are apt to have fewer resources than their landlords. Such laws include (but are not limited to):
There are also many state laws about rentals and protecting tenants’ rights. These laws may set rights and responsibilities for landlords and tenants, terms and conditions that may and may not be included within a lease agreement, termination guidelines for lease agreements, and the handling of evictions. Landlord-tenant lawyers must know the ins and outs of the specific laws affecting landlords and tenants in the states in which they are licensed to practice.
Like all attorneys, landlord-tenant lawyers must have a Juris Doctor degree, preferably from an American Bar Association-accredited law school, and pass the bar examination in whatever states they intend to practice.
Undergraduate pre-law education is the start of any landlord-tenant lawyer’s educational journey. This may be in a pre-legal field or within a variety of related majors, such as public policy, urban studies, sociology and political science. After completing undergraduate education, you must take the Law School Admission Test to be admitted into an ABA-accredited law school.
Some schools offer specialized education in landlord-tenant law, according to the ABA, such as Gonzaga University School of Law. Other law schools offer pro bono clinics that can give you practical experience in working in landlord-tenant law. Some of these clinics that handle landlord-tenant cases include:
Such specialized education and practical experience can be helpful to you in your future practice but is not strictly necessary. Once you have earned your Juris Doctor degree, you must take and pass the bar exam in any state in which you want to practice landlord-tenant law.
States do not commonly require landlord-tenant lawyers to hold any specialization in this area. However, it is important to keep up with the latest changes in laws through continuing education.
Select from these links, depending on the education level that best describes your situation:
Landlord-tenant lawyers may litigate a variety of different matters, and may represent landlords or tenants. Legal issues that landlord-tenant lawyers often face include, but are not limited to:
Skills necessary for a landlord-tenant lawyer include:
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says that the average lawyer in the U.S., no matter their specialization, was making of $122,960 per year as of May 2019. Law Crossing quotes the average national salary for landlord-tenant lawyers at $118,300 as of 2020. They note that landlord-tenant lawyers working in the following metropolitan areas earn higher than average salaries:
Other names that landlord-tenants are known by include real estate attorney, real estate transactional attorney, and staff attorney. The BLS projects average growth of four percent for all lawyer jobs (regardless of specialization) from 2019 through 2029. It is expected that jobs for landlord-tenant attorneys will keep pace with this average expected increase.
Lawyer Career Specialties