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Ask the Eviction Attorney | Landlord Tenant Law Q&A

Q&A with John Reno, Eviction Attorney

The Landlord Protection AgencyThe Landlord Protection Agency® is proud to introduce John Reno, Esq., a highly experienced Landlord - Tenant attorney based on Long Island, NY.

Mr. Reno has engaged in Landlord / Tenant practice in the District Courts of Nassau and Suffolk for the last 30 years. He prides himself on prompt legal action and direct client service.

"Over ninety percent of our practice in the Landlord Tenant courts consists of evictions of tenants, primarily for non-payment of rent. We also assist landlords in preparation and/or review of leases and consultation on other matters affecting the Landlord - Tenant relationship.

We find that Landlords who contact us have often waited too long to commence an eviction, usually in an understandable effort to resolve problems amicably. Landlords need attorneys who will not compound the problem with unnecessary delays or expenses. For this reason, our main priority is immediate action. In most cases, we commence an eviction within 3 days of being hired and have our client's cases in Court within 7 to 10 days of being hired."

If you are a landlord with a tenant problem you'd like to ask a question about, please feel free to e-mail me your question.
Please Note: Mr. Reno is an active practicing attorney with limited time and will do his best to respond to relevant questions. If using an I-phone or mobile device, please use full sentences and punctuation so we can understand you. The high volume of e-mails may require the LPA to enter your question into the LPA's Landlord Q&A Forum.

If you are a landlord with a tenant problem you'd like to ask a question about, please feel free to e-mail me your question.

Submit a landlord / tenant question for Mr. Reno
Please try to keep your questions as short and to the point as possible.

John Reno also does Mortgage Loan Modifications (Nationwide).
(Mention The LPA for a 10% discount!)

If you are a Landlord on Long Island, NY, and wish for Mr. Reno to handle your landlord - tenant case,
please provide your contact information: e-mail Mr. Reno (


Published 2014-10-30

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a house in the state of Texas and I myself live in California, under that circumstance my tenant has been doing crazy things to my house. They moved out and left a bulldog in the house with one sister who only goes to the house at night to sleep. The gas has been shut off due to lack of payment, which I just found that out couple of days ago through a friend of mind who lives across the street from my rental house.

I texted to my tenant and she said that she's temporary taking care of her grandma and will be back in a couple of months, in the mean time, she'll have her sister staying there taking care of the house. In reality, she had destroyed my house: She pulled up the living room carpet and put some linoleum in certain spots and she left her dog in the house all day without any human guidance, so the house is full of dog's feces. And then my tenant's husband punched holes on the wall when they were having a fight.

Now, my question to you is: would those above reasons enough to call the police and evict them, even though, they did pay for Oct's rent. ( in other words, they are not behind on the rent).
Could you help me with this kind of situation?
I'll be urgently awaiting for your answer, your advise will be truly appreciated.

Teresa S, TX

A: You can call'em, but I doubt they'll be much help. The cops usually say they can't act without a court order. Seems like I got this question five times this week. The police don't consider this criminal activity- just bad behavior. (I hope this lease is up soon so you can evict.)

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a tenant that fell in the apartment due to part of the sealing falling. They claim they will not sue me but have asked for some adjustments, if you will, for the expenses they have incurred. i.e. the daughter fell after going in to pick up mother who fell, ambulance was called, etc. they say. At any rate Iíve waived rent for 3 months. Can I create a waiver form protecting myself from being sued, do you have one on your site or do I have to get one from a lawyer?

Al from Delaware

A: The "waiver form" of which you speak is called a "General Release". By the way, stop waiving these people's rent. That's ridiculous. You'd be better off letting them sue you and using your homeowner's insurance.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have an apartment that is above me that I rent out. I have rented it to a family of three, husband/wife/6-yr old boy. This is the first time that a family has lived up there, usually rent to sub-contractors for local business who go home on weekends. I find this very hard as they are very loud, between fighting all the time and the child jumping and running through the apartment. And I just found out they are expecting their second child in a couple of months (not mentioned when applying to rent). This is a cape cod style house turned into a duplex.
My question to you, since I live on the bottom floor, do I have the right to not rent to those with children?
Thank you very much

Theresa F., PA

A: That is why you NEVER give any more than a 6 mos. lease to start if you live there. When the six months are up, you can evict. You don't need a reason. If your halfway through a one year lease, you're a dead duck.


Published 2014-10-29

Dear Mr. Reno:
My name is Kimberly, i own and rent out a house in South Carolina. I have a signed lease for one year, which ends August 2015. I use a property management company that I pay 10% to monthly. I need to take possession of my house back no later than Feb 2015, do I have any rights to end the lease with notice? My property management company is telling me no. Please help. This is only because of a family emergency that I need my house back.
Thank you in advance.

Kimberly, SC

A: Sorry Kim. Your management company is right. Unless there's some loophole in the lease allowing you cancel, you're pretty much stuck. Sorry again.

Dear Mr. Reno:
My parents have tenants, a family of four, that are clearly (at least to us) doing everything they can to put off eviction. They were originally on a lease, but they declined to renew it 6 months ago. Their rent was continuously late. Once they realized we would evict, the wife ďslippedĒ on a wet floor that was caused by a leaky roof. The roof has leaked since the house was built, my father was raised in that house. The tenets knew about the leak when they moved in 4 years ago. We have had work done on the roof several times since they have lived there, it only leaks under certain conditions.

She put in a claim for her ďfallĒ a month ago, has not paid rent for at least two months, and yesterday she had the department of health come to the house, they made several (minor) findings. Seems like they plan to drag us through court, and use all these ďissuesĒ to live there without paying for as long as they can, or at least reduce the rent they owe. The tenant is a real estate agent, and seems to know every trick in the book.

Should/can we evict them regardless of these problems? Are there laws to protect property owners from these tactics? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you,

Josh, Massachusetts

A: Yes, you hit the nail on the head Josh; You should evict them regardless of these problems. All this nonsense has nothing to do with not paying rent. And as for the slip & fall, if she tries using that in court, she "wont have a leg to stand on." (LOL)

Dear Mr. Reno:
My mom sold a trailer (kind of a rent to own). It was just over two years ago and has been paid off for most of this year. My mom just had a warrant out for her arrest for property taxes on that trailer, because he didn't change the title and pay the taxes. My mom paid them so she wouldn't be in trouble. My question is, can she evict him now since he hasn't changed the title or paid the taxes?

Stephanie, Nebraska

A: It's his trailer. You can't evict an owner. Sorry. You'll have to sue him for the taxes.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am married and living with my husband for 38months I move in with him can he kick me out of the apartment that my name is not on lease we are living in Bronx NY

Winnifred, NY

A: No he can't kick you out. If you're married, they'll tell him he has to go through divorce court.


Published 2014-10-28

Dear Mr. Reno:
You are correct about the lack of notice but you may have an issue with the security deposit. California has a strict rule. If there's no damage to the premises you may have to give back the security and sue separately for the November rent. (Consult a local?)

A: You are correct about the lack of notice but you may have an issue with the security deposit. California has a strict rule. If there's no damage to the premises you may have to give back the security and sue separately for the November rent. (Consult a local?)

  • California Security Deposit Law

    Published 2014-10-27

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    I am attempting to evict a tenant, but the tenant signed the lease with a family member who is currently out of the country and won't be back for another month. I am co-owner of the property and my name is on the deed, but not on the lease. This tenant hasn't paid rent, has threatened to sue us for several reasons (that aren't true), has been verbally abusive, let drug dealers into the premises, is creating a nuisance with other tenants, and is just plain crazy! Do I need a power of attorney to initiate the eviction or can I still start the process due to being the co-owner of the property?

    Carl from CT

    A: In cases like this, I start by naming in the eviction papers yourself and your partners as "owner and landlord." Having a Power of Attorney may be helpful, but its no guarantee. The only sure dire eviction would be brought solely by the one on the lease. (Have I now thoroughly confused you?)

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    I am currently dealing with a tenant who agreed on the first day when she moved in that her and I are not a good housemate match and she will be moving out on the 15th of Oct. She hasnít paid me rent, only gave $300 of security deposit for the room she was suppose to rent. It is 23rd of October now and she announced that she will not be moving out (donít know if she is just saying this to spite me or she is actually not planning on leaving), however she has yet pay money to me for the room. I donít want her to stay as her and I do not get along and I donít want to share my apartment with someone who is very unpleasant and irresponsible. There is no lease agreement in place, and her stay hasnít exceeded 30 days yet, she also installed her own lock on the room door, not sure if that is a legal move. Is there any way for me to get her out of my place without any court interference because her stay has been under 30 days or the best chances if she refuses to vacate are through the court system?
    Please advise.
    Thank you

    Julita B

    A: Can you do it without court? There's only one way to find out. Call a cop. Will they escort her out without a court ordered Warrant of Eviction? That's their call. If it's within 30 days, that's in your favor- but you've got a problem. Three hundred dollars. That may be enough to give her tenant status. Good luck.


    Published 2014-10-25

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    I just joined the LPA to get support for a problem I have with my tenants. After asking for a lease renewal earlier this year, my tenants were given another year (through June 2015). A death in the family has left our tenants with the opportunity to purchase a home through a family estate.

    We offered to try to sell the house ahead of our planned schedule (spring 2015). We've arrange to have real estate agents, and contractors visit the property to prepare for sale.

    Rather than accept that we're willing to break the lease if we sell the house, our tenant has stated that he is looking out for himself, and will not lose the opportunity to buy the other property. To that end, he's yet to pay his rent this month (it seems intentional as he's ignoring my calls).

    It feels as though our tenant is trying to get evicted. What legal options do we have to compel the tenant to pay while still living in the house, when eviction is not a threat?
    The house is in Fairfield, CT.
    Thank you.

    John, CT

    A: Hmmmm... You want to know how to complain about non-payment- other than eviction?

    You could sue them in small claims court for the rent. You'll get a judgment which will affect their credit- but that takes a number of months. (By the way, a non-payment eviction also gives you a money judgment- is much faster- and is what you should be doing.)


    Published 2014-10-23

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    My son (35 years of age) built me a home and lived there for years. After not paying rent or the mortgage, I evicted him and it took over a year to get him out,
    Now, when I tired to get the electricity turned back on, the electric company told me I had to pay his bill of over $1200.00
    I never lived there nor was the bill in my name. Am I legally responsible for HIS bill ??
    thank you

    Shirley G., Virginia

    A: You are not legally responsible, however, it doesn't matter. They won't turn it on-and they don't have to.
    So they've got you over a barrel.

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    I rented a room in my home to man who robbed me of $6000 worth of my jewellery. The detective assigned to the case suspected him and went to pawn shop with the descriptions of my jewellery and took photos of items that matched. He asked me to come down to the station to look at the photos and I identified the items as my property. He had to use his ID to pawn them so they knew it was him that stole the jewellery. He was arrested and arraigned the next day. I requested a restraining order because he has a short temper and argumentative. I was afraid he would retaliate and harass me if he came back to the house after he was released. The judge issued a Stay Away/no contact order. He was escorted by the police to get his things out of his room but left an unsanitary and completely filthy room with clothes piled sky high with no floor exposed. His trial is Dec 9. What rights does he have in regard to the room? He has a tenancy at will. How do I evict him?

    Susan in Massachusetts

    A: I'm glad you got the restraining order, but this is a weird situation. He still legally lives there; he just can't go there, for now. You need to evict him. You can either serve him a 30 day notice-or evict for no-pay if he's in default. This is tricky. You need to hire a local attorney.


    Published 2014-10-21

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    my tenant had informed me of a short knocking out the electricity to the refrigerator. I let him put his food in my refrigerator and called two of my trusted electricians immediately. One was busy on a job but the other one told me he could come Friday and this was Monday. The tenant asked if he could have someone come out if he paid for it. I said yes as he did not want to wait.

    He then $1500.00 worth of work done and expects me to pay for it. He gave the ok to the electricians he found on the internet.

    It says in our month to month agreement that he has to get written permission to do any repairs.

    Now he is threatening me with legal action and he did not pay the rent. What are my rights? He still had electricity in the guesthouse..just not in the refrigerator and microwave.
    Thank you.

    Marrsha, California

    A: You really walked right into that one, Marsh. If he's got a paid bill (and proof he paid it) he can deduct it from rent because cooking facilities are given to habitability. You should have gotten it fixed pronto. Oh well, live and learn.

    Oh, one more thing. You want to challenge the bill? Say it was unreasonable? Plan to bring a licensed electrician to court as an expert witness. You can't testify on your own.

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    A tenant moved in 4 months ago She agreed to pay water bill. I just found out she didn't pay and the bill. They water company put a lock on the meter She keeps breaking the lock. Because every time the meter lock is broken it cost over 100 each time. The bill is over 1000. She never put it in her name. Now she is trying to Sue me.

    Bridgette, Florida

    A: Sounds like a 30 day notice is in order. Then YOU sue HER. But evict her first. You may or may not get a money judgment for the water-but get her out. She's BAD NEWS.

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    Thank you for taking my question:

    We signed a lease with a new tenant on June 2, 2014, they were to take possession on 8/1/2014. As a third party, can they go onto the property, change the locks and take possession? Locking out the current squatter even though they have filed Chapter 7? Keep in mind, the 2nd partner who filed is not on the premises only the 1st partner, her bankruptcy has been discharged. My attorney is filing for a relief from stay with 2nd partner (this will tie us up for yet another 60days). We are at wits end! We are senior citizens (66 & 67) this is our retirement, our only source of income.

    Your advise is very much appreciated! Below is information on tenant/squatter in possession of my building. Building: Commercial Restaurant - Served 3 day notice and 30 day notice on June 13, 2014 both parties, Served 3 day and 30 day notice to McEwen and any and all occupants 9/2/2014 (2nd partner left premises on 6/22/2014)

    4/1/2012 - Possession 3 year lease
    1/2014 - Breached lease converted to month to month lease
    6/12/2014 - 1 partner filed personal bankruptcy
    8/13/2014 - Judge signed Relief of Stay Allowing us to evict tenant 8/27/2014- 14th day ended, date we could evict tenant
    8/27/2014 2nd partner filed skeleton personal bankruptcy
    9/15/2014 - bankruptcy dismissed
    10/07/2014 Ė 2nd partner again filed bankruptcy

    Breaches: no insurance, no workerís comp, havenít paid rent since May, living on the property, bringing in homeless vagrants in the evening to sleep in the property.

    Mary Lopez, San Diego, CA

    A: Sorry Mary. They are not squatters. They may be horrible tenants, but not squatters. A squatter enter the property illegally, like a trespasser. If your new tenants try a lock out, they're cruisin for a bruisin.


    Published 2014-10-20

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    I have an ex tenant who agreed to lease my property (warehouse) to a lessee who signed a lease, on which they did not perform. I let them out of the lease 10 days after it started. They move in material which is still there. I had them sign a termination of lease agreement so that I could lease it out to another. How do I get rid of there stuff. I will send them a letter stating that they remove belongings, if they don't can I through away the belongings or do I have to store it.

    Marc Dellorco, CA

    A: They signed the termination of lease; they've given up possession, the property is abandoned and you can discard it. (you should promptly let them know, but basically you're cleared for take off.)

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    I am a landlord in Colorado and want to know what questions I am legally able to ask a prospective tenant's employer when verifying employment.
    Thank you,

    Kate Pettey

    A: Date of Hire, position or Title, Salary (Anything else is a risk.)


    Published 2014-10-17

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    My parents tenants lease expired 01/01/14 since then he was paying month by month until july. He didn't pay July and lived out his security deposit. In August he payed late and September he payed partial. Now I fear October he will not make payment. What process should I take to quickly expedite his eviction?

    David, NY

    A: You've got a dimemma, and it's an old one. You could go non-payment eviction, but they may pay and stay. Would that be okay?

    Or, you could serve a 30 day notice and evict as a holdover, but that's slower and you'll lose 2 or 3 months rent. make your decision.

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    My tenant has given notice that she and family are moving from my home that I have rented to them for 4 years. Their lease was up at the end of September this year. They have been 10 days late 3 times this year but have made it up in fees. For this month, October, the wife paid half her rent and has promised to pay the rest, plus the late fees, on October 27. The problem I have at this time, is the tenants are now separated and the husband is living in a different state. She notified me today of her moving the end of November. I have their last month rent so November rent will be covered, and I have a good deposit from them. But, she does not want me to tell her husband what she is doing. Both he and she have signed the lease, and agreed when the lease ended last month, that they would pay month to month, as explained in #29 on their signed lease that I used from the Landlord Protection Agency.

    Should I let the husband know what she is doing?
    When she moves and the house is cleared of any damage, how do I split the deposit between them if the husband doesnít know that she is moving?
    If I am obligated to tell the husband, what is the best way to let her know that I cannot keep her secret?

    Mona M., State of Georgia

    A: Do not mettle in "affairs of the tenant." This is none of your business. Don't get involved.

    The security in cases like this is one check, payable to both if they're both on the lease. Let them split it up. That's a problem? It's their problem not yours. You're a landlord, not a marriage counselor.

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    I rented an apartment to a couple two years ago. I didn't have time to paint and do ordinary repairs as to they wanted to move in right away(in one week). I gave them a lease with a concession rider ($1,100 a month) in return they paint and do some repairs. They had a problem with the concession, saying they were scared I was going to raise the rent in those two years of the lease, and felt a couple of lines were unnecessary. Out of good faith, I unknowingly crossed out parts which basically say I can never raise their rent back to the original value ($1,800) for the duration of their tenancy. I am rent stabilized.

    Since then they have taken me to court for harassment (twice) called the cops on my husband and I, called housing with any violation they can think of, and then refuse access. I am so far over $30,000 in debt. I just found out she is a licensed real estate salesperson. Is this legal on her part? What can I do? Sorry it is so long, but it is very complicated. Thanks for your time.

    Lilly, New York .

    A: Your "unknowingly crossed out parts"? What does that mean? You've got big trouble. See a Lawyer. (Right off hand- I'd say you're stuck right where you are-at $1100.)


    Published 2014-10-15

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    With our landlord's permission, my boyfriend and I sublet a room in our apartment to a couple who did not sign an agreement with us and always paid cash. After an argument with the woman, the man left, locking us out of a smaller room used for storage. The woman told us not to let him back in because he had moved out, then stories leading us to believe he was unstable and had left bruises on her arms. After a few weeks she began inviting him back in without telling my boyfriend or I. When we found out we tried to talk to her about it, as we were uncomfortable with his presence in the apartment. She avoided us and became very hostile. On October 6 we told her to leave within 24 hours, she insisted on staying until the 11th which we told her we would allow, but completely vacated the apartment on October 8th. She kept the keys and is demanding money be returned to her for the rest of the month. We told her we would return the money, but would be subtracting costs for unpaid utilities and damaged blinds. She and the man have repeatedly threatened to call the police, accused us of not paying bills with the money they gave us (I have receipts proving we did) and said that they would sue us in small claims court if we did not give them the entire prorated amount for the time she would not be living with us. Can they do that? We cannot afford a lawyer or court fees, what can we do in this situation?

    Amanda J., Michigan.

    A: You have no obligation to prorate at all. Where did you find these Jerks? Thank God you got rid of them without an eviction. If they sue, go to court. You don't need a lawyer for this nonsense.


    Published 2014-10-10

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    I just joined the LPA to get support for a problem I have with my tenants. After asking for a lease renewal earlier this year, my tenants were given another year (through June 2015). A death in the family has left our tenants with the opportunity to purchase a home through a family estate.

    We offered to try to sell the house ahead of our planned schedule (spring 2015). We've arrange to have real estate agents, and contractors visit the property to prepare for sale.

    Rather than accept that we're willing to break the lease if we sell the house, our tenant has stated that he is looking out for himself, and will not lose the opportunity to buy the other property. To that end, he's yet to pay his rent this month (it seems intentional as he's ignoring my calls).

    It feels as though our tenant is trying to get evicted. What legal options do we have to compel the tenant to pay while still living in the house, when eviction is not a threat?

    The house is in Fairfield, CT. Thank you.

    John, CT

    A: Hmmmm... You want to know how to complain about non-payment- other than by eviction?

    You could sue them in small claims court for the rent. You'll get a judgment which will affect their credit- but that takes a number of months. (By the way, a non-payment eviction also gives you a money judgment- is much faster- and is what you should be doing.)

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    Hello, I received an email from my tenant that they slipped and fell down the outside front stairs during a rainstorm. He went to the ER, had stitches and Xrays, and 'had an expensive bill'. I wanted to know what my legal responsibilities are? Do I offer to pay his deductible or hospital bills (Im not sure if he has health insurance)? I do have an umbrella policy.
    Thank you for your advice.

    Holly R.

    A: I hear all the time "If he falls on your property, you're responsible." That's a myth. You're only responsible if you're negligent.
    Why did he fall? (Why so guilty a conscience?)

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    I had tenants, who just moved out, their lease was up. I went to check the house. In the house theres dog urine and poop on the carpet throughout the house. My neighbors told me they (tenants) had 3 dogs in the house and playing in the yard. They (tenants)never told me in the beginning of the lease. I checked the lease the realtor didn't put a penalty chrg for pets it's left blank. Can I still chrg pet fee from the security deposit.

    Donna, TX

    A: That dog wont hunt. Pet fees must be agreed upon. But if you replace the carpet or have it professionally cleaned, that expense can be deducted.


    Published 2014-10-09

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    My tenant with a 1 year lease expiring 03/01/15 has not paid one cent of the wastewater/stormwater/trash pick up bill since the first day of his lease resulting in a lien on my property which is up for sale. If he should need a repair, i.e., heat, air or leak, can I delay those repairs until he pays the bill? Thank you,

    Patty V., IN

    A: That's one approach but there's a pitfall. If the "repair" involves an essential service (like heat), the tenant can withhold rent until the repair is done. A/C, on the other hand, is nonessential, so you can let'em sweat 'til he pays the water.

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    I have a rental unit in NYS. I leased to my tenant for the term of one year commencing on 3/1/14 and expiring on 2/28/15. They just handed me an early termination letter that they will be vacating by 11/15/14. There is no term penalty spelled out in the lease as it is a standard NY Residential Lease. Is there any standard penalty which applies? In future leases may I put a penalty which states that the tenant is responsible for the rent through the term of the lease or until it is rented if they terminate the lease early?
    Thanks for your help.

    MNF, NY

    A: It's exactly what you said. The penalty is the rent until you rerent. You hit the nail on the head.

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    Tenant wasn't paying rent so I took her to magistrate. The magistrate let her remain the home he called it "Stay and Pay". That was about the 20th of the month. She moved out the following month on the 4th. I got the judgment for all owed rent and late fees up until the 20th. It's been 2 months since she moved out. This tenant is paying on other judgments she owes at the magistrate. They wont tell me her new address. My question is what can I do now to get money owed to me? She works full time at a hospital, any chance to have the judgment come out of her pay? I didn't go and claim damages she left behind due to not having her current address.

    Tammy from PA

    A: You got the judgment "for owed rent." You've got the job. Start the garnishment. What are you waiting for?


    Published 2014-10-06

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    My sister her husband & family moved in with me 3 years ago due to their 4 evictions.

    They were suppose to stay 3 months & leave! They are Refusing to pay Rent! They refuse to leave!!!! They pay only a small portion of the utilities that they are costing me! They have destroyed my home & me financially! I have called the police & they do nothing!

    How do I get rid of these horrible mean people legally! They know every trick in the book to be squatters!!!!

    Please please help me , please!
    Thank you,

    Lisa FL

    A: After I read the first sentence of your question- I shouldn't have read the rest. It was pretty much a done deal.

    Thirty day notice to vacate. Get a lawyer. This can be tricky.

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    Hi, I'm Charlie from Honolulu, Hawaii.
    I have a rental manager who takes care of my apartment. Our rental agreement is $1700/month plus utilities on a 1 year lease. The rental unit has an association, and the utilities can't be billed directly to the renter because it's bundled with the maintenance fee. So I pay the utilites for the month, and the renter reimburses me the following month through the rental manager. My understanding is that utilties is part of rent.

    The rental manager brought in a tenant on Novemeber 1st, 2012, who is self employed. Problem was the tenant paid the $1700/month, but didn't pay the utilities. This happened for the first 5 months, all the while I was asking why wasn't the tenant paying electricity and why wasn't the tenant given notice to vacate. The rental manager said his lawyer advised we couldn't give notice to evict until there's a late payment. I was confused and angered. The tenant eventually defaulted on the monthly payment in May and thereafter only paid sporadically and partially. We started a Summary of Possession in June and were finally able to execute the writ on February 2014.

    My questions are:

    1) Isn't utilities considered part of rent if it's stated on the lease, and thus we could've started eviction earlier?
    2) Can I sue the rental manager for the loss of rent, utilities, lawyer fees and the extensive damage the tenant caused, because of not responding quicker?

    Charlie, Hawaii

    A: 1. Yes, (but I have heard stories. Some judges wont evict for utilities, no matter how you word it & THAT'S WRONG.

    2. No, you'll never be able to prove you would have gotten paid no matter what he did. It may seem obvious to you, but in court, its only speculation.

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    I have been renting a room since January 2014. She has never paid any rent. Can I just put her stuff out on the curb?
    She is a heroin addict and I have a 8 year old son and a disabled 80 yr old mother. I'm afraid for them.

    Dorothy, NY

    A: Not in New York you can't. (not anywhere that I know of- she's there way too long for that.)


    Published 2014-10-03

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    I rented to a woman and her three children and signed a four year lease. It's two years in, and apparently her partner/wife moved in three months ago with the partner's two additional children. I don't think the apartment is big enough for them. Can I evict them?

    The tenant has always paid rent on time, but she's been complaining about repairs a lot lately. I can't stand her.

    It's a pretty big apartment and she says it's big enough, but I say it isn't.

    Oh btw, this is California and she lives in a rent controlled apartment.

    Laurel D, CA

    A: Why? Why? Why? Why would you give a tenant a FOUR YEAR LEASE? Why? You know these people will pack up and leave whenever the Hell they feel like it anyway. Now you're stuck with "Modern Family" 2 more years.

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    Hi my name is nadine...and my question is how do I evict my ex out of my apartment legally...I pay the rent...His name is on the lease...I have a month to month lease....your help in this matter is appreciated..


    A: OMG! He's on the lease? So you're both tenants. One tenant can't evict the other. Sorry Nadine. My Solution: He stays- you go. Give the landlord your notice.

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    I had a couple claim they are on SSI & SSD. I am not familiar with those and asked for contact info so I could look into it before agreeing to show the flat. The caller had no phone number etc, so I could not help her. Can I legally refuse to rent to anyone who does not meet the minimum requirements I put in all my advertisement ? They are, No felony convictions, verifiable employment and a minimum credit score of 600, I do not accept sect.8, dss or any other agencies.

    And how does one know if a service dog, truly is a service dog, since my research shows there is no legit registry for them ?
    Thank You

    Tim F., Landlord in Schenectady NY

    A: Yes, you can refuse to rent to Section 8, as long as it's not unlawful discrimination (race, religion, etc.)


    Published 2014-10-02

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    I have a tenant who has been through the eviction process 3 other times.I gave her notice . She ignored I have a hearing oct. 21 in phila.she broke my windows and called the police and said I did it.
    1. What are my chances of getting the rent from the judgement?
    2. Is there any way to push the hearing faster?
    I moved out to get away from her because she goes into rages. After 3 times I would think the judge would lock her up. She is like a criminal. destoying property and taking advantage of tenant laws.

    Annette, PA

    A: 1. Slim 2. No

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    I have a tenant who signed a lease for 1 year. She stated she was single and would be living alone. (her 14 year old son is in boarding school). My tenant moved from Brooklyn to my residence and was referred by a friend. The tenant's boyfriend is a guest every night, the noise from the apartment (2nd floor) disturbs my quality of life, the tenant failed to cover 70% of the floor to reduce the noise level. The Tenant's lease is up Sept 2015. The animosity and anxiety are present in my living situation. I offered her the return of all her rental money if she vacated the apt. by Sept. 30. She agreed and then changed her mind. I need to have this tenant evicted for not living up to the terms of the lease, and to avoid any medical problems to me. Hoping you can give me some advice on whether or not I can have her evicted.

    Rachael A

    A: You have a major problem. Nothing in your question is going to justify breaking your lease. So you are stuck.

    Your mistake was giving a lease, good through Sept. 2015, to share a house that YOU LIVE IN, with someone you didn't know. Next time, start with 6 mos. If it works out, extend it.

    I hope for your sake, she defaults on the rent. Your only chance to evict is non-payment.
    Otherwise, she pays... She Stays.

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    I'm trying to find out about what the rules/laws are when someone has a service dog. There is nothing on your website that addresses service dogs.

    1. Can we charge a pet fee and/or pet deposit? If so, How much? We are in Wisconsin.

    2. Can we ask for documentation that they indeed need a service dog and what documentation do we ask for?

    3. I'm not sure what else I might be missing on this topic.

    Sheila L., WI

    A: Pet fees are common. Anywhere from $25-200 per month. I don't know of any regulations. Whether or not its a "service" dog shouldn't affect the fee, although they are better behaved. Usually, those dogs have a certificate.

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    My son & his girlfriend signed a lease but broke up 5 months into the arrangement. She has a stay away order of protection. He has removed 95% of his belongings. Can he have his name removed from the lease? He is concerned she will not pay the rent on time or trash the apartment. What are his options? Thanks so much!

    J.B. in Long Beach, NY

    A: Fat chance Jazzy. He's on the hook; I doubt they'll let him off- why should they? It's a contract. He can ask, but I'd be surprised.

    If she defaults, they'll come after him. My recommendation: Prayer.


    Published 2014-09-29

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    I'm in the process of doing a eviction in California, and was told by the eviction company that you can not get back rent from a person on disability? Is this true?

    Carole, CA

    A: No, not true (I think what they meant is that you can't garnish their checks or seize their checking accounts because disability money is EXEMPT from collections.)


    Published 2014-09-27

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    I own a barber shop in Staten Island I rent booths to my barbers on week to week basis. I had an independent contractor lease agreement with a few barbers that expired months ago and now I want them out as they are now disrespecting me and my employees and basically disruptive to the overall business. As the "real" person on the lease of the entire space and they are basically sub leasing do I need to give then 30 days notice or could I tell them to leave immediately. I did write a termination notice giving them 24 hours to leave. I am now thinking that since we collect rent on a weekly basis that if I gave them 7 days I would definitely be good legally. Please advise thank you in advance.

    John, NY

    A: The first question is: will these "booths" be recognized by law enforcement as independent commercial rental units, like renting a store front in a mall, or is this just an area within your store that you control. To put it another way, if you call the police and say "this is my shop, I've asked this barber to leave and he refuses" will the cop make him leave. Or will he tell you to evict him. Probably, yes, because you've labeled it a rental.

    If you have to evict, its still a 30 days. That's a minimum.

    Maybe it was a mistake to call your payment "rent". That probably gives them all the rights of a commercial tenant. On the other hand, if you call them employees with a profit sharing plan, then you're responsible for their actions, so pick your poison.

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    I evicted a tenant that owes me two month rent plus close to $3,000 in repairs plus $1,450 in late penalties. How do I have to proceed now to have the ex-tenant pay me since he doesn't want to pay anything?

    Marcos and I live in Florida.

    A: You have exited eviction territory and are venturing into the world of collections. It's not my area, but for what it's worth, your only hope is probably wage garnishment. Got job info?


    Published 2014-09-24

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    We have a tenant in our garage apartment who is always late on rent and bills. We want them gone as soon as possible. We do not have a rental agreement. They cause lots of drama and want them gone. The people in the front house have 7 kids and we don't have problems with them. The tenants in the garage apartment are trouble and we want them gone. Thank you

    Maria, Texas

    A: Give them a 30 day notice to vacate. If you serve it now, you ask them to leave on 11/30/14. (Is Texas 30 or 60? Please ask a local atty. I think it's 30.)

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    I sold my mobile home to my brother. He purchased the home but refused to pay the balance to transfer the title out of my name. Now park owner is going to evict me due to his non-payment of rent unless I evict my brother. Can I legally evict him and must I serve him 30 day Notice to Quit because there is no lease? He has had no utilities or water for 6 months due to his neglect and his non-payment of utilities. Can it be considered abandoned in the proceedings? Thank you for your thoughts.

    Kelly from PA

    A: So, I take it that you had an installment contract. He breached. If he's still there, you must evict Bro. Even if there's no utilities. If he's there, then he's there.


    Published 2014-09-22

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    The tenant reported that there is a very loud noise when turn on the shower, and they request to have a licensed and professional plumber to take a look.

    In TX, is it required by law that landlord needs to hire the licensed and professional plumber to fix any plumb relating problems Thanks,

    Joy, TX

    A: For repairs, no, for improvements maybe. Install a bathroom, you need a license. Fix a shower, no, or let me just say I'd be very surprised if your area has such a law.

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    Hello, If a tenant never moved in on a rent to own contract, do I still have to evict them? Tried to give him the keys but he won't respond to calls/texts and rent grace period for rent has passed.

    Kimberly from Indiana

    A: That's an extremely weird situation Kim. Not only don't you have to evict, I don't think you could even if you wanted to. He's not in possession and that's a requirement to give the eviction court jurisdiction.

    So what you have is a breech of contract case, not an eviction.


    Published 2014-09-19

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    3 years ago this month a tenant requested to be let out of lease early which I did with certain written stipulations regarding rent payment. The tenant had 3 choices of how to handle being let out of the lease early ( she only gave me a few weeks notice of this request) one of which required her to pay for the remainder of the lease if she did not pay the rent as agreed upon in writing for me releasing her (this was her choice of the options).

    All of this was done in writing and she signed the decision she chose - which required to pay for the balance of her lease. The tenant did not follow thru with our agreement regarding payment or pay her final sewer & water bill balance which I had to pay. The tenant had moved out of state following this so I did not attempt to recover this via magistrate but now I have learned she is back in my area. Is it worth trying to recover any of what is due which is about 3500.00 now? Thank you for your time and consideration,

    Allyson W., North of Pittsburgh PA

    A: It's now a "small claims court" case. It only cost about $20 to start (You'll need her address though.)

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    I have a question that has put me in a bind. After my year lease expired I decided to stay for another month until my new apartment was finished paying month to month. On arrival to pay my first month to month payment I let my landlord know I was giving my monthís notice. He explained to me that there is a clause in the renters contract that states if you do not advise the landlord before the last month of your actual lease that their contract automatically rolls into another year lease without me signing anything and I am responsible for paying the rent until then even though I have no access to the apartment. Iíve paid double-rent 3 months now with no progress in finding a new tenant. I feel like they arenít going to even look for someone new because this is a much easier situation for them. I was met with the threat of the company taking me to collections if I decided I would no longer pay. Is this legal? If not, then what should I do in this situation?

    Troy H., Kentucky

    A: This is where I get in trouble because the answer varies from state to state. Yes, in general, the clause is legal and enforceable, EXCEPT in states that outlaw it. My state, New York has a special law. It automatically becomes month to month. No one year extension unless you sign.

    So the question is, does Kentucky have that law. (Ask a local atty.)

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    We purchased a home in Badger MN and are unable to get the title to the property. The bank says we need to pay a lawyer $3,500.00 to get the title. We only paid $18k for the house and it is now only worth like $25K max. We don't have that kind of cash to pay for the title when we paid cash for the property. Can you help us figure out how we go about getting the title?

    Hugs, Suse, MN

    A: Didn't you get the title when you closed? What went wrong? Ya lost me, Suse.


    Published 2014-09-18

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    I sent a letter with 30-day notice of a rent increase to 30-day Tenant at Will. Do I need an addendum to the original lease dated 15 months earlier?

    Beverly, Massachusetts

    A: It would be better if you had an addendum. Is the tenant agreeing to this? If so, they'll sign an addendum. If not, you may have to evict. Can't force'em to agree to an increase. It's "either, or." Either pay the increase or Sayonora.

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    We have 30 Apartments with option for 18 storage room thatís attached to property but not adjacent or inline with Apartment. I really need clarity on CO law on how to recover monies owed from an eviction. Can we place a Landlord Lien on the storage unit items until Apartment and Storage are paid in full? Our storage units have been optional and if needed a one line is added to their contract saying Tenant is in need of 1 10x10 storage unit @$40 per month.
    Iím new and any help or reference material that can be thrown my way would oh so be appreciated.

    Reecy, Colorado

    A: That's a storage thing- different animal. I evict people and businesses. You need a storage unit guy. Sorry Reecy.

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    Legal Disclaimer
    The Landlord Protection Agency's "Ask the Attorney" column is for informational and entertainment purposes only. The questions answered by Mr. Reno on this site do not constitute an attorney - client relationship and are not to be considered legal advice. Not all questions will be answered and some may appear in the LPA Q&A Forum.
    The Landlord Protection Agency recommends that you seek legal advice before using any of the material offered on this web site, and makes no guarantee on the effectiveness, compliance with local laws or success of any of the material offered on this web site. The Landlord Protection Agency is not engaged in rendering legal advice.

    If you are a Landlord on Long Island, NY, and wish for Mr. Reno to handle your landlord - tenant case, please provide your contact information: e-mail Mr. Reno

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