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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 2014-09-29

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: What in God's name are you talking about? 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.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I rented my house to a couple, who refused to sign a contract. My wife and I are going through a divorce. The couple has not paid but claim that they paid my wife and have copies of hand written receipts from her. I filed a dispossessory and lost. How can I get them out? They are damaging my home.


A: Battle of the Roses?

Have you tried a 30 day notice? Because a non-pay is problematic when they're saying they paid her.

Also, you may have to get a "cease and desist order" through divorce court. I just saw one on a case I'm involved in. (Court told Hubby "stop taking rent!")


Published 2014-09-15

Dear Mr. Reno:
In June the apartment complex I live in changed owners; my lease expired in July. I received no notices from them and continued to pay my monthly rent. For the past two months I've been looking for a new place to live and found one I would like to move into by October 1st.
I paid my rent for September a few days ago as usual. Today I found a note on my door asking me to either renew my lease or pay a higher "month to month" rate as of October 1st. At the end of the note it said that i need to give 60 days notice before moving out.
So my question is, since my lease has been expired for months, do I still have to give 60 days notice (I.e., is this enforceable on their part) or can I still move out by October as I would like to.
I appreciate your time and attention.

Brandon C.

A: Contrary to popular belief, even though the lease expires, all the terms of the lease continue, except it's month to month. So if you had A/C included, you still have it.
Now on the 60 day thing, you may be able to fight that. It depends on the wording of the lease. Is there any indication that was intended to apply before expiration?


Published 2014-09-12

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a tenant who hasn't paid in 4 months. My renter's license was up to date when she moved in, but the City of Philadelphia blocked my renter's license due to a trash collection fee. I experienced hard times when tenants failed to pay and fell behind with taxes. I was able to make a payment plan for taxes but not for trash. What can I do to get the tenant to leave so that I can be paid and then pay the City their money? Renter's license expired in February.

Mika W., PA

A: It's called an eviction- you've waited too long- but better late than never. Start your non-payment proceeding today! Either hire a lawyer, or get yourself down to the courthouse.

Dear Mr. Reno:
Is it ever wise to live in your own rental property ? We have 4 units and we want to move in one of them.

Toni G.

A: Why not? I see it done frequently. I wouldn't give any long leases though. You might dislike your neighbor. On the plus side, you'll be saving a lot of gas when you collect rent and answer clogged toilet calls!


Published 2014-09-11

Dear Mr. Reno:
We own some apartments in Las Cruces, NM. The tenants in one apartment did not pay their rent for the month of September and we notified by a neighbor that they were moving out without giving notice to us. Then they had their relatives move in without rent being paid or applying for occupancy. So now we have people trespassing in our apartment. What do we do?

Charlene, NM

A: I know you won't like this answer, but you have to evict the whole lot them like any other lying, conniving, dirtbags. No rent? Fine, you evict for nonpayment. When you evict them, you evict the kinfolk along with them. I know what you're thinking, that they're like trespassers, but the law doesn't see it like that. As long as the tenant is still legally in possession, they're his lawful guests, even though he hasn't paid the rent. Sometimes, the law just sucks and this is one of those times.


Published 2014-09-06

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am located in Colorado. I filled a demand for compliance notice on Aug 2nd. My tenant was waiting for financial assistance so we waited until that came in to receive pymt. On Aug 11th the tenant only give a partial Pymt so we filed the Compliant to proceed with eviction. Went to court on Aug 21st, where tenant's lawyer filed for trial. After court, we hired an attorney for trial. Went to trial on Aug 26th where the tenants lawyer made known that tenant filed for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy on May 30th in Indiana, of which we were not listed. Therefore the judge rescheduled us for court on Sept 5th and said he would not lift the stay. Our attorney talked to the bankruptcy trustee and they will not file a notice of intent to abandon.

Now our lawyer says all we can do is hire a bankruptcy lawyer in Indiana to file a motion to lift the stay. Meanwhile, her attorney is trying to throw the whole case out because I put our personal names on the compliant instead of our business name. Tenant will not pay for anything from this point forward, will not negotiate pymts and is violating the lease in other ways.

Our lawyer says this could drag on for months. One more thing, we rent the property from my mother-in-law who owns the property so this is a sublease. Is there anything we can do?

Casey, Colorado

A: You've already know the answer, you just don't like it, which I understand. You have to lift the stay. Only a bankruptcy lawyer can do it (I couldn't do it!)

As far as the names go, you should have used your names as shown on the lease. Did you?


Published 2014-09-04

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a question regarding the security deposit. I have signed a one year lease with my Tenant in 2009. After the lease ended, we didnít sign a new lease, we just agreed she will stay under a month to month lease. My Tenant moved out after 30 days notice to vacate. I donít have a clause about the security deposit in the lease (a mistake), but my Tenant did sign a security deposit agreement that requires a 60 days notice to vacate. Can I hold the security deposit because no proper notice has been given? Or is a 30 days notice enough because we had a month to month agreement. Please, advise.
best regards

Nadia, Minnesota

A: You're on shaky ground there Nadia. The 60 day notice was during the one year lease. Now you're on a month to month. Probably thirty days would now be deemed sufficient.

Dear Mr. Reno:
Potential tenant supplied $500 deposit toward rental effective 9/1/14. I allowed her to work painting home @ $10/hr (I estimate that she spent 12 hrs, but asked her to document her hoursÖ.which she never did) - those monies would be applied to prorated August rent when home was ready for move in.

- Move in date - never discussed or agreed to, however she said she was staying at Hampton Inn, but I found she was living in my home using my utilities.
- In process of painting, she damaged carpet, woodwork and newly refinished bathtub as well as other damages amounting to approx. $300
- She never signed the lease contract, and when confronted regarding squatting, has asked for her $500 deposit back.

Can I deduct damages and daily rent from the $500? I have taken pictures to document damages.
Thank you,

Pam Wilson, OK

A: Go ahead. Deduct it. I think you have every right to. But you may end up in small claims court Is it worth the trip?

Dear Mr. Reno:
We have a no pet policy written in a lease. We have a student renting an apartment from us. She has a 12 month lease. Her lease is up in January 31,2015.
She is asking to have her dog, she had for five years while living at home.
She misses the dog. She claims to be in a lot of stress and her psychiratist recommends the dog as a service dog .
She has the paper-work for me to complete, allowing her to have the dog.
She also moved her boyfriend into the apartment and he is not on the lease.
Can we legally ask her to move before her lease expires?
Or will we have to let her have the dog?
Can we issue a non-renewal when her lease is up?

LF, Tennessee

A: This dog thing is out of control. You landlords are obsessed with your tenants dogs. Why can't someone have a dog?

Anyway, if you feel so strongly, just say "no, you may NOT have a dog. Or a boyfriend."

Then, she'll do it anyway. So then you'll drop her a line "Enjoy the dog in your apartment for the remainder of the lease, because it wont be renewed." So then you evict, lose rent for two months, have a vacant unit for another two or three months. There. Happy?

Dear Mr. Reno:
I live in NYC, my daughter moved out of my house at the end of April. After, asking her many times for my keys she finally said that she lost them. I changed my locks in June. She left behind some of her belongings. In Aug. she alleged that I illegally locked her out. The police came, she told them that she moved out in May. The police agreed with me and told her there was nothing that they could do. Now, my daughter and I are in landlord tenant court. My daughterís boyfriend also took me to court Can the judge award her any damages?

Sheila, NY

A: Could be trouble. (I hope you haven't rented out her room yet.) Damages will come up if they say you took her stuff. But I thought the rule was 30 days, She's out 30 days! On the other hand, she left stuff, so the court may find she never totally left. You better bring a lawyer or may have company for dinner.


Published 2014-09-02

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a person in my home that was only staying a week. Been 3 wks. No lease. Refuses to leave. Sheriff said to file eviction. Now this person has mail coming to my residence w/no change of address. Is this legal for this person to receive mail to my home?

Kathy Hall, Florida

A: I thought the rule was 30 days, but your Sheriff has designated this a residence in 3 weeks, which is wrong, but there we are. That's where he lives.


Published 2014-08-28

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a married tenant that is preparing to divorce and wants his wife out of the apartment. He is the only person listed on the lease. What action should he take to make her leave? Can I evict just her if she is causing a disturbance to the neighbors?

John in South Carolina

A: No. No. No. He can't evict his wife- and neither can you. For him, he needs a lawyer for a divorce- not an eviction. As for you, you need to keep out of it. It's none of your business and not your problem.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I own my apartment rent controlled (it's a co-op), I want to evict My grandchildren, I have already served them a "ten day notice to quit". My grandchildren have no way of moving out they say due to a part time job they claim is not enough to survive on they're own. I live in Manhattan, New York, they don't have a lease and I've never asked them to pay rent. I just want them to leave..... what should I do??? Thank you in advance

Loren, NY

A: Why 10 days? Where did you get that bad advice?

In New York State (which includes NYC) it's 30 days notice to vacate. There are some graps you can give only 10 days but I doubt you could fit them into those categories. Plus NYC is VERY, VERY strict.

You can ask him if the 10 days holds up. You try to do this yourself, be prepared to start over once or twice b/4 you get it right.

Dear Mr. Reno:
A week ago I signed my renewal on my lease for another year which actually does not go into effect for another month. Today I was offered a new job which is approximately a 2 hour commute each way and I would like to move closer to my new job assuming I accept.

Do I have the right to change my mind before the least actually goes into effect? The lease break fee is $4,000 and I would prefer not to have to pay that.
Thanks for your time.

John, California

A: I wouldn't worry about the "lease break fee" (it's probably unenforceable) but whatever you gave them, you can probably kiss goodbye.


Published 2014-08-27

Dear Mr. Reno:
Can you please tell me what you would do if you had renters who refuse access to me to do needed repairs. I give them adequate notice. Recently the Mrs Renter said she was scared to use the porch light. I said 'OK' and immediately called my electrician to come the next day. I texted her that we would be coming and she did not reply (I know she uses texting constantly). So when we arrived the next day she became hysterical and would not let him work. She was verbally abusive, her husband was present but he said nothing. She wanted me to redo the entire porch ceiling first. There is more to the story but I just want to give you the overview. What is your experience in NY? Thanks for your input.

Karen in NC

A: These people will never be satisfied. They live for the drama. All you can do is keep a log. Document your efforts. Sooner or later, their complaints reach a tipping point- they stop paying & get evicted. And when they tell the judge they didn't pay the rent because the doorbell doesn't light up, he'll say "you're kidding, right?"

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am not sure whether you can help me with my question, but I will give it a try. We received an application to rent from a prospect. The individual wants to rent a house that is attached to our 85 unit building. She indicated to us that she will be doing religious worship gatherings on the weekend and many times during the month, which means a lot of cars and people will be on property. For us this constitutes a commercial use of the property and we want to deny her application. But, we are unsure whether these can be seen as discrimination.
Best Regards,

Katherine L.

A: You're on dangerous ground there. Are you denying all commercial use, or just the church? If you deny them, you should advertise "residential use only" to show you're not discriminating.

Dear Mr. Reno:
We are homeowners renting a room to a couple. We have served them a 30 day notice for breaking every rental agreement, plus living in a mobile home park, the rules. They have trafikking every night, all day long, neighbors are complaining, some serious issues are involved. One question I have is, they are having over night strangers spend the night without permission and charging them a nightly fee, yet they don't pay money they owe us for personal loans. What are the california laws for homeowners? We served them a 3 day notice to vacate because they won't "fix" their breaching of breaking the rules.


A: This is not good. If they fight this eviction, you'll have your hands full. Your complaints amount to rumor hearsay and gossip. I doubt you could prove any of it. Even if you could- very hard to evict for bad behavior. It's a shame because they really sound like scum.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a tenant for 21 Years and never had a lease. I don't want to rent to her anymore because I want the house for my family. What action should I take? She has been late 2-3months on rent more than once

Rene B.

A: You didn't mention your state or town Renee (Shame on you!) but most places require at least 30 day notice to terminate a month to month.


Published 2014-08-26

Dear Mr. Reno:
I gave my newest tenant a lease agreement to review and sign 2 months ago. He signed the agreement but I never signed it. We both have copies of the agreement. I now have major issues with the tenant not complying with the agreement. He's broken several stipulations already. Should I proceed to serve him with amply notice, or better yet, was the agreement ever binding? If it wasn't, am I obligated to give him ample time to move?
Thank you for your time.

Cindy B.

A: Cindy, It looks like you lucked out. By never signing the lease, it never became a valid contract. You have a month-to-month tenant. You still have to serve him with a 30-day notice (or whatever notice is applicable in your state)

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have an tenant about 7 months after she moved in her mother moved in to help her now my tenant rent was behind so her mom helped her so now her rent I'd behind now and mom is still there can I sue her mom since she gets more money then her daughter even though her mom isn't on her lease

Donna B in Mississippi

A: In your dreams Donna. Mom's not on the lease. She has no obligation to pay rent. It's all been voluntary. Even though she lives there. You can sue; anyone can sue, but if she defends it, you will lose.

Dear Mr. Reno:
Hi, my tenant just move-out, but he cut one of my 25 yr old eucalyptus trees and half of another one, the one he cut stated to regrow. Used REALTOR lease agreement. my question is, can I charge him for the either one of the trees?

Jesus in California

A: Go for it Jesus.


Published 2014-08-25

Dear Mr. Reno:
Potential tenant supplied $500 deposit toward rental effective 9/1/14. I allowed her to work painting home @ $10/hr (I estimate that she spent 12 hrs, but asked her to document her hoursÖ.which she never did) - those monies would be applied to prorated August rent when home was ready for move in.

- Move in date - never discussed or agreed to, however she said she was staying at Hampton Inn, but I found she was living in my home using my utilities.
- In process of painting, she damaged carpet, woodwork and newly refinished bathtub as well as other damages amounting to approx. $300
- She never signed the lease contract, and when confronted regarding squatting, has asked for her $500 deposit back.
Can I deduct damages and daily rent from the $500? I have taken pictures to document damages.
Thank you,

Pam W., OK

A: Go ahead. Deduct it. I think you have every right to. But you still may end up in small claims court. Is it worth the trip?


Published 2014-08-21

Dear Mr. Reno:
I own a home and signed a lease with a tenant for them to rent to buy. after a few months they stop paying rent. After not having any success getting them to pay I went to get an eviction notice written up. To my surprise I could not.because I did not register. Which I didnt know. I went to register my home and it needs to be inspected first before i can register. Well in the time they have lived there they have damaged he place. They had holes in the walls with the holes.They damaged the appliances and flooring in kitchen and there are a few other problems. It will not pass as of now and im loosing money and have to pay property tax still. I have been given 6 months by the courts to get them out but I dont know how. What can I do to get them out so i can sell the place as is? Please please me. Thank you for.your time.

Amy in Parkville Maryland

A: OH MY GOD! Are you saying you can't evict in Parkville Maryland unless you "register"? As in, get a rental permit? You need a rental permit to stop renting? That makes no sense. Also, how would you do repairs if your tenants wont give access & can't be evicted? So it's the ultimate "Catch-22?" Something's wrong with this picture. Hire a local attorney.

Dear Mr. Reno:
Is it unwise to request an earlier trial hearing date than what the judge has set, without appearing to anxious? This trial involves our Son who refuses to move out of our property after more than a year of being requested him to move, verbally and written. He ignores our requests, we have no contract or tenant agreement with him, he has not paid any bills or any amount towards the bills in over 9 months, and he is blocking all our attempts to sale the house. We had a tentative closing date to sell, but because he refused to move, we missed the date. He is 34 years old and refuses to vacate our house. He is an unlawful detainer! Help!!!

Kenneth D. Scott, Alabama

A: I'm seeing this nonsense more and more. Kinfolk taking advantage of one another. Usually, its the kids screwing their parents, but sometimes, even the other way around! It's like a friggin' epidemic. Don't get me started.

Don't push the judge. That's a mistake. Let the system run its course. (Don't go nuts like me!)

Dear Mr. Reno:
Please help with a tenant issue. John was nice enough to call me earlier this week about a tenant who has abandoned my house about mid-July according neighbors and my best guess. Now the current month's rent is now overdue along with the current water bill and the bill I have not received as yet. (the town will not allow the water utility to convert to the tenant). I have sent multiple notices giving 30 days notice to vacate due to breach of contract which includes unauthorized people living in the house (3 to my knowledge) and an abandonment notice. I have copies of some of the mail delivered to the unauthorized person.

Yesterday, I called the post office and they gave me the names of the people they have on record for mail delivery. That unauthorized person is still on the PO list to receive mail. Essential utilities have been turned off by the gas company. By this time, the electric may also be off. I am distant from the property.

Below is an e-mail I just received and I feel that my house is in jeopardy due to utilities being turned off. Obviously it is uninhabitable with no hot water, heat, air or ability to cook and has been since to my knowledge mid July. The house is in awful condition with food rotting in the refrigerator. This e-mail is the only communication I have received since beginning the process to get the tenant to vacate. Is an e-mail valid communication? I don't always look at e-mails in a timely manner.

I believe after research that I am within my right to take possession of the premises now. Attached is the history along with the current e-mail received from the tenant who has never told me the truth. Am I within my right to ask for the contact information for her legal counsel? Can I move forward to take possession. My house is in jeopardy being vacant with the water turned on and unheated water in the water heater not being monitored. Joanne, Received 6:50 pm August 15, 2014

Legal representation has advised me that I have 30 days to vacate the house after a formal eviction complaint has been filed with the local District Courthouse in Snow Hill. Due to unexpected life hardship, which you have been made aware of, I had family visit me in my time of need. I kept within the stipulations of the lease agreement and no other occupants besides the ones listed on the lease agreement reside at the dwelling permanently. I have presented you with the dates they have visited and left and their relationships to me. To help relieve the stress from my hardship I have chosen to relocate with my family member during this troubled time and have no issue with complying with a formal complaint.

Thank you in advance.

P.S. I am a senior citizen living 2 hours round trip from the property.


A: Well in the time it took to read this e-mail (I assume you've taken possession by now) but I was very confused about what your question was. Were you asking should you take possession? Because most of the info in your transmission did not address that issue.

No town, county or state that I know of, requires a legal eviction when a tenant voluntarily vacates. You say they abandoned the residence in July. Take your house back.


Published 2014-08-14

Dear Mr. Reno:
I'm a new landlord in central Illinois. I have a tenant who was renting a house from me month to month. She informed me via e-mail that she would be moving out on 8/10/14. Rent was due for August on 8/4/14 and was not paid. I have not been able to reach the tenant for a couple of days now by phone, text, or e-mail. The outside of the rental house is in poor upkeep including trash, lawn care, and various personal items outside. Neighbors inform me that she has now left the state. Having no way to contact her, I'm curious as to what I should do about items left behind, trash, utilities. Also, I entered the house yesterday and found it mostly empty of all the tenant's furniture, food, cookware etc (still trash in there though). I still have the security deposit, and it appears there needs to be lawn work, cleaning, minor repairs, and trash removal. My concern is when to begin cleanup or even if I should without being able to contact the tenant who appears to have abandoned the property. Do I keep the security deposit? Can I legally remove or throw out items left in the house? We had an agreement that we would get together and go over final business transactions once they had completed moving out, such as final rent payment, a house walk-through, returning keys and garage door openers. But if they have left the state and the house is basically abandoned, what should be my next steps?
Thank you sir.

Kevin W., IL

A: They're gone. They've gone to tenant never, never land. Repair, renovate, rerent. You are cleared for takeoff Kev.

Dear Mr. Reno:
Thank you for everything you do.
I am a member of your site I use your lease for all the rentals I have in Georgia.
I recently rented an apt on Saturday (against my better judgement) and by Sunday the guy was dealing drugs out of it. Went with a cop returned his money and told him to get out in two days.
I am relying on the 3 days to refuse clause in the lease. Please, push comes to shove, how do I enforce it? Usual eviction process or file straight for set out or some other method.
Please help. Everyday the piece of s### is there its costing me good tenants.


A: Oh boy. You want to know if its enforceable? Don't ask me- ask that cop who went with you. Is he going to remove dirtbag without a court order? I'd be surprised. Probably need a 30 day notice. And I'm assuming the court will honor the 3 day right if the cops don't. (And you know what happens when we assume.) But you have to at least try it.

Dear Mr. Reno:
A tenant of mine (In Washingtonville, NY) first moved in with her son. I have reason to believe that she no longer lives there and pays the rent for her son and his girlfriend. The superintendent went to fix a leak and reported to me that the apartment is in disarray and destroyed (which will cost me thousands to repair and replace appliances). I also believe they have a dog (which is forbidden as per the tenancy agreement). I am worried the apartment will cost me thousands in repairs. Do I have any options? Is eviction one of them? If the son isnt on the lease, is this considered a sublease?

Lee, NY

A: Unfortunately, you may be stuck with son and GF until your lease is up. As long as the rent is being paid, well, you can't evict for sloppiness, relatives, and pet evictions are problematic and never work. If it's a month to month, you can serve a 30 day notice to vacate. Does that help Lee?


Published 2014-08-11

Dear Mr. Reno:
I rent a room to a tenant who just paid rent, a day after he moved his gf in without permission. Itís a month to month lease and itís for single tenant only. She is not on lease. I do allow visits but cannot extend for more then two days a week. Can I have her removed instantly? And if she chooses not to leave what can I do? So far itís only been a couple of days. But my hunch is she is planning to make this her home.

Zoey Martinez, California

A: It's a month to month- give him a 30 day notice. That will get his attention. If he asks why, tell him why. Maybe he'll change stripes. Bottom line: Is it worth losing this tenant over this? Cause that's where it's heading.

Termination of Tenancy notice Good luck!

Dear Mr. Reno:
Question - My tenant has been delinquent with their rent since they moved in and I suspect they have habit of smoking pop in the apt. Their annual lease do not end till this November. Is there any way I can get them out quickly? Please advise.

Danny, Fresh Meadows, NY

A: What did you have in mind? Narc Squad? The Landlord-Tenant court will not do a drug bust or a drug trial. Can we go non-payment? Is the lease up? What's the plan?


Published 2014-08-07

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a married tenant that is preparing to divorce and wants his wife out of the apartment. He is the only person listed on the lease. What action should he take to make her leave? Can I evict just her if she is causing a disturbance to the neighbors?

John in South Carolina

A: No. No. No. He can't evict his wife- and neither can you. For him, he needs a lawyer for a divorce- not an eviction. As for you, you need to keep out of it. It's none of your business and not your problem.


Published 2014-08-05

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am renting a room to my nephew in my home where I live. He has been paying rent but it is just not working out. I told him so and he said he is not going to pay rent while he saves for another place. His girlfriend is with him but he is the one who pays the rent. There is no lease. Do I need to go through the courts? From what I read in some states, I can serve him a 30 day notice and have the police evict him after the 30 days.....Is this true? I appreciate any help you can give.....
Thanks so much,

Renee in Philadelphia, Pa

A: I've never heard of it. As far as I know, they need a court order (otherwise known as a warrant of eviction.) To be sure, call your local precinct. Ask them if they'll "evict him" as you put it, without a court order? I'd be surprised.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have made a mistake with my tenants in regards to rent payments. My tenants asked us if we could lower the rent due to her husband losing his job (which we have learned is a lie) and his hours being cut. We talked and agreed (in writing) that in order to help them, we would lower the rent each month $ 100 for one year (they signed a 2 year lease) which equals the security deposit of $1200. In agreement, they forfeit the entire security deposit. Now, we have a problem. They damaged our sprinkler system by not winterizing it. The cost is $350. We paid it, because it had to be done, after they refused to accept responsibility and pay for it and even stated they do not want to talk about it at all with us. In addition, there is a tear in our linoleum floor. I know I was wrong for using the deposit the way I did but thought I was trying to do the right thing. Now it feels like they have turned on us now that they got what they wanted. How does this go in court? Will they judge dismiss more than likely?
Thank you in advance,

Kristin C., CO

A: I'm confused. You lowered the rent, but still have the security? You make it sound like it's gone.

Anyway, I think you win on the linoleum and lose on the sprinkler. You have to prove sprinkler thing was their fault. Not so simple. Got expert witness? Is it worth it?


Published 2014-08-04

Dear Mr. Reno:
not sure if you can assist with this but I own a home my mother lived in. Family member moved in when mom became ill. A lease was never signed. My mother has since passed away, family member would not leave and lived there rent/utility free until successfully evicted months later. Can I sue for rent even though there was no written lease agreement?
Thank you for your help.

ACJ - Kentucky

A: Sorry Carol. That dog wont hunt. Although it's a possible sue for rent w/o a written lease, you would have to prove a specific agreement to pay a specific rent. I don't see it here.


Published 2014-08-01

Dear Mr. Reno:
Tenant is responsible for paying utilities- still owes $625 which is the security deposit amount- wants me to use sec deposit to pay off balance- do I have to do that or can I withhold sec deposit due to not satisfying obligation as required by the lease?

Judy - Pennsylvania

A: This sounds like the beginning of the end for this tenancy. Although I wouldn't start an eviction over this, I wouldn't agree to it. And you don't have to. Tell him to spread out $625 over 3-6 months; otherwise, start packing.


Published 2014-07-31

Dear Mr. Reno:
When there is an executed lease renewed automatically on a month-to-month basis for a year or until the tenant decides to terminate the contract. Can the owner decide that they no longer offer a month to month lease before one the year is up?


A: Yes, you can. When the lease "automatically renews", that means unless someone does something. You can give notice that at year's end, you wont be renewing. So "automatic" is really an option, not a life sentence.


Published 2014-07-30

Dear Mr. Reno:
My question is: I was told that I had to file a formal complaint to evict my tenant due to the fact that I entered into a lease/option agreement even though my lease was expired. What do they mean and how do I write a formal complaint ? HELP

My Name is Mrs Monighetti and I am from the state of Nevada.

A: You're really starting from scratch there. I think they mean by "complaint" an eviction petition through the Court. I think your next stop is the local courthouse. Pick up the forms. If they don't have them, you'll need to hire someone (a local eviction attorney).

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am a fellow attorney, from the state of NJ. I have had a unique issue arise that I was unable to answer through initial research.

A commercial landlord leases commercial space to businesses. The commercial landlordís property is then in foreclosure. A lis pendens is filed against the property by a Limited Partnership (refer to as Corp.). 4 months After lis pendens is filed by Corp., the commercial landlord enters into a commercial lease with a business for commercial space for 3 years. 4 months after commercial landlord enters into said contract with commercial tenant, the Corp. obtains a writ of execution on the property. 5 months later Corp. obtains the Deed to the Land. Corp. is now requesting a writ of possession and seeks to proceed with the removal of the commercial tenant, who had signed a lease.

1. Is the lease b/w commercial tenant and commercial land lord completely void now as to their right to stay on the property?
2. If so, Does Corp. have to provide the commercial tenant with an eviction notice and follow typical commercial eviction process?
3. Is there anything the commercial tenant can do to avoid being thrown out of the space they had leased, which became foreclosed on?
Thank you so much for your time, I truly appreciate it!!

- Daniel May, Esq., NJ

A: 1. Yes, assuming it's a purchase money mortgage being foreclosed on.
2. 30 days.
3. Negotiate new lease with Corp?

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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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