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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 (info@theLPA.com)






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Published 2014-11-21

Dear Mr. Reno:
Hi,my tenants were arrested two days ago in accusation of stabbing a person to death in their apartment..Both the boyfriend and girlfriend live in a same apartment but only girlfriend have lease with me,how to I get rid of them?

Saleha

A: There are only two grounds to evict a tenant: Nonpayment & lease expiration. Murder is not a ground to evict them so the tenants can stay. They can murder people as long as they pay their rent!

Dear Mr. Reno:
I rented a room in my house (where I currently reside) earlier this year and have had constant problems with one roommate. She paid the security deposit a month late (when the lease stated it would be paid at signing) so I never signed the lease but allowed her to move in. She has a fixed term lease, set to expire at the end of March, but we had a fight (not physical, just verbal), and we now completely ignore each other’s existence. She told me last week she would move out but “not right away” as she wants to find a “nice” place to live. A week ago I emailed her an amendment to the lease stating that it would be converted from a fixed term lease to a day-to-day tenancy where she would need to provide 24 hour notice of moving out. She never signed it or acknowledged the receipt, even when I sent her a text message explicitly asking. Since verbally telling me should would move out, she has seized all forms of communication (I have been away from the home since this time on vacation and business). Do I have any chance of evicting her or using her verbal commitment to move out as grounds for a notice? I am desperate to get my house back into a healthy and happy environment!

Samantha, Oregon

A: No Sam you have NO CHANCE of evicting her based upon a verbal commitment (Sorry, I seem all bad news lately- I feel like the X-mas Grinch.)

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a friend and her husband living with me there about to sign a lease but the fighting between them two I can't stand any more I have lived here for about 3 years now and they want to sign the lease with me I have already had to call the police on them for putting a hole in my door i don't have money to get a eviction letter my self the landlord says its up to me to get them out. i live in olathe ks. what laws do I have I care about them but its time they go.

Brian, Kansas

A: Start packing Brian. The party's over. You had a good thing, but you brought in a dysfunctional couple and now it's a big mess. Find another place. One tenant evicting another? It's not happening. Sooner or later, landlord will evict them (along with you.) Better sooner than later.

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Published 2014-11-20

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a lease that states all utilities to be paid by tenant., but either party can leave with 90 day notice. Are they still obligated to pay the utilities for that period of time even if they moved out.?
Thank you

Carol P., Ohio

A: Yes, they've agreed to be responsible, so you're off to small claims court for a money judgment.

Dear Mr. Reno:
We have a tenant issue. We rented our basement to two brothers and the oldest brother signed the lease. Within months of moving in he move out to live with his girlfriend. The younger brother was on hook for the entire rent so he asked us if he can find a roommate. We agreed but told him we need to interview the potential roommate and we will have to approve them. He went ahead and rented two days ago without our permission or our knowledge to someone he found online. Now it turns out the lady that he rented to is crazy and refuses to move out even though he did not deposit the money she gave him. He gave the check back but she refuses to move out. The first day she purposely clogged the toilet and is threatening legal action against us. The young man and my family are afraid for our safety because it is clear from our conversation she is mentally and emotionally unstable. The first night she actually locked out the young man from the house after an argument and we had to give him the spare key so he could get back in the house The problem is he had her sign a month to month lease. How can we quickly get her out of my house? If I go through the courts it will take months and we are afraid she will physically attack one of us or try to set fire to the house. We are all afraid for our safety as long as she on on my property. Please help me find some fast way where I can get her out. Thank you.

Best, Anita, Rego Park, NY

A: She gave him money. Whether he deposited it or not, she's got tenant status. Ergo, no shortcuts. You need court.

Sooner or later, (probably sooner) the rent will not be paid. That's your ticket to nonpayment eviction court. Until them, you'll have to just deal with the craziness.

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Published 2014-11-18

Dear Mr. Reno:
Have a commercial lease that states either party can cancel 90 days in writing even though the lease is for one year. Can U interpret that the intention is for the renewal only?

Carol P., Ohio

A: No, I wouldn't assume that. That is problematic. You should get it out of there at renewal time.

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Published 2014-11-17

Dear Mr. Reno:
I own a home and let my girlfriend now ex live with me. I made the mistake of signing a lease she wrote up so that I wouldnt kick her out. She has been nothing but a nightmare. Doesnt take care of the house, treats me poorly and doesnt respect the rules. I have had it with her and want her out, is there anything I can do?

Steven, Dallas Texas

A: I've heard of guys who own a house and rent an apartment to the GF, but this sounds like something different. Sounds like you and GF share the same living space? And she has a lease? To live with you? That's a new one! Well, as long as she pays the rent (please don't tell me there's no rent!)- as long as she pays the rent, your stuck with devil woman until the lease is up. (Erect man cave?)

Dear Mr. Reno:
We allowed an individual to move into our home in March and pay rent and utilities. The electric and water remained in my name. They did not sign a lease. I told her that if she didn't pay, she would have to leave immediately. They paid good for a few months. Starting in August, they began to pay late. They only paid half of Oct rent and no utilities. They have paid nothing for November. I issued them a 30 day notice to vacant on November 1st. I filed papers with the court on 11/13 - Occupant refuses to leave. I am concerned because she has several people staying there now and I don't even know their names. How do I get them ALL out - NOW. I also just found out that she didn't pay the water bill back in August that she told me she did. I called the electric company to temp turn off the electric and they refused because someone is there. They said I can turn it off out of my name but they would allow her to then put it in her name even though it is my house and she doesn't have a signed lease. I don't want that - I want her gone. Can I take her to court for rent and utilities? Please advise. THANKS

John Ward

A: Usually you'll get a judgment for unpaid rent (& sometimes utilities) as part of the eviction process. You said you filed papers in court on 11/13. Did you ask for a money judgment for what you're owed in addition to eviction? I hope so.

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Published 2014-11-13

Dear Mr. Reno:
I filed an eviction yesterday for nonpayment and today my tenant want to pay. I still want them to move. Do I accept the RENT?

Reeree, GA

A: You might as well. Your tenant will just come into court and say he tendered rent. The judge will make you take it. Them's the breaks Love.

Dear Mr. Reno:
We have a tenant, who was a friend, who moved in 3 years ago. she didn't sign a lease when she moved in. she also never gave us a security deposit when hers was returned from her previous landlord. No rent was paid in July or August of this year but has been paid since. Earlier this month we gave her a lease to sign, which she refuses to sign.
Since we gave her the lease, she has called the town building inspector because of water damage on 2 ceilings in 2 rooms of the apartment.
What are our rights in NJ as landlords regarding this?
Thank You

Mrs. C. Fearon

A: You have the right to evict her for non-payment of the July & August rent. What are you waiting for?

Dear Mr. Reno:
First let me say I am so grateful that you guys are out there, I’m so happy I found you. We have an urgent question I was hoping you could help with.

We have a rental house and the tenants that signed a lease are breaking the lease and moving out 6 months early they told they would be moving out Nov 30th well we heard from the Relator that they moved out this weekend, she had a showing and she said the house was a disgusting dirty mess. We are trying to show it so we can re-lease it

We told them we would be going in and looking at it to see what needs to be done so we can hurry up and get it leased. I went in there today and took pictures and text the tenant and he said to leave the house immediately I was trespassing and he would call the police and have me arrested.

My question is if they moved out and they broke the lease can we go in there now so we can get it ready to release, we asked him to get it cleaned up but he did not respond. How much time do we have to give him to get it cleaned and carpets cleaned before we do it?
We also found lots of areas where he has damage done to the walls inside the home and he used exterior Stucco patch to patch the walls they are in really bad shape. I saw the stucco container I do not want him making future damage to the house by “repairing it”

Help what are our legal rights – what can we do? Feeling helpless

Thank you so much,

Tish Pilon

A: As far as entering, you're in a grey area there Tish. Are they out or not? If they're out, you can go in. Otherwise, not. Also, if you want him to stop with Stucco, why don't you just tell him. They'll stop.

Dear Mr. Reno:
My brother has a drug addiction. We have tried to help to no avail. He lives with my mom (Texas). She wants him to leave but he says she must give him 30 days notice. She has photo evidence of the drug paraphernalia. She is worried about the safety of her home due to his addiction and is worried he may be selling from the garage. What can she do?

Jeff, TX

A: Give him his 30 days notice. If you can get him out that way, you should consider yourself lucky. It gets worse if Family Court gets involved.

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Published 2014-11-12

Dear Mr. Reno:
Recently my tenant who was under the lease, on 10/11 orally said he will move out from Nov 1 and asked me to keep the one month rent deposit for breaking the lease. I asked him to give in writing but he has not answered my calls. I reached him at the beginning of Nov thru text message and he replied already moved out and had few boxes left and I told him to take out everything by 11/. On 11/6 I entered my property and found that he didn't take out his trash, some old matresses, his broken refrigerator, old broken toys, etc., He took out his clothes and other furniture in entirety. He also took my washer and lawn mower with him (stolen). Now what action I can take against him? Can I file a case for my stolen property and breaking lease? Can I get garnishment against his/her wages? Please let us know and really appreciate your help.
Thanks

Abdul, TX

A: Yes, yes, yes. The answers to all your questions is yes. But first things first. Renovate & Rerent. (Then sue the last tenant.)

Dear Mr. Reno:
My current tenants' lease period is 03/14/14- 03/14/15 but being she has a Housing Voucher it states that the voucher period is 03/14/14-02/28/15 and she has her review for a new voucher on 03/01/15, being I am not renewing her lease due to past due rents from her portion would her move out day be 03/14/15 or 02/28/15?

Thank you in advance.

Tabia in Maryland (Prince George's County)

A: It goes by the lease, i.e. 3/14/15. Question is, who pays from 2/28/15 to 3/14/15? (Probably no one!)

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a one family home I rent out in Rhode Island. The current tenants are month to month. Been there for quite some time. Always late on the rent, and are just not easy people to deal with. Continue to run the burner out of oil, and the tank was full when they moved in. House uses less than one tank of oil a year to heat.

I have repairs I need to do in the house, the ceiling was pealing in one room only. We went in some time ago with a Painter and then a plaster, and scrapped the ceiling, but it could not be primed/painted, as it had soft plaster areas, that had to be taken down, which the plaster did. I need a plaster to go in there again, to repair this one 2’ area, and prime/paint, it will be a 2 day job due to the time needed to dry. I have asked for the time to make the repairs, with no date from the tenant.

I am actually at the point, I would just like them to Leave. What is my best course of action?
Thank you.

Claire, Rhode Island

A: Sounds like these tenants have worn out their welcome. Why don't you give them a 30 day notice to vacate? They may contact you and perhaps agree to mend their wicked ways, that is, if you're interested in giving them a second chance.

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Published 2014-11-10

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am retired and have a retired couple in a rental house. They have been there for 2 years and i just sent a increase in rent to them for next month. Anyway, they have been late for 3 different months lately and i sent them a notice that they were late. I am suppose to have a small daily charge for being late but have not done this. He sent me back a letter saying there are problems which really does not amount to much and i have fixed anything rapidly when there was a problem. He claimed that i was trying to be a big business man or did not want to be friends with renters because i have asked them to put the rently check in the bank for me. I have put gutters on the house which was not necessary and have fixed two windows which did not open the other day. All appliances were in when they moved here.
My question is: What do you think I should do with them as far as keeping them as a renter.
Thanks,

John C., Arkansas

A: Well they've been paying 2 yrs. late but paying. Annoying requests for repairs- but only minor stuff. Some attitude issues, but on the whole, I'd stick with them (you could do much, much worse) as long as your getting paid. Once they default more than 30 days- give'em the boot.

Dear Mr. Reno:
My story is , my uncles brother ( owner ) it renting out a trailer and has asked his brother ( my uncle ) to keep and eye on this trailer when he is in the area and he seen something funny and enters the property to see what it was and the renter came running out cussing at him and then called the cops , the cop told him if he entered the property he would go to jail , but she never called the landlord ( my uncles brother ) to see if he was allowed to enter the property , can the cop take him to jail even if the owner of the property said that he was allowed on the property any time as a care take of the property ?

Veronica S., Florida

A: Tell your uncles to keep away from that place- and that even includes the owner. They don't belong there and they're trespassing. Why? Because it's rented. It's someone else's abode. I know owners have a hard time accepting that- but it's the law.

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Published 2014-11-08

Dear Mr. Reno:
I live in New York and have a home in atlanta. My tenant did not pay rent for 3 mts. I took her to court to get her out. The judge ruled that she pay the outstanding balance in full and bring proof of what repair she did or leave. She in return appeal the case. On the day for the second hearing she did not show up or paid any money. The judge dismiss the case for the second time and told me I can start the evictions process in 72 hrs. I contact the sherif in 72 hrs they then inform me that the Tennant made a down payment on the outstanding balance she owed. As a result they cannot evict her. I must write the judge a letter informing her that my tenant made a down payment. I need this woman out my hm now due to lack of payment my house is about to go into forclosures this lady is playing games what to do.

Colino, GA

A: Appeals in Landlord/Tenant cases are rare. Even then, they don't stop the eviction unless a bond is posted. You say the Sheriff can't evict her. Why? Why would the Sheriff care about a down-payment on the balance? This makes no sense. You need to speak to an appellate lawyer to figure out what the Heck is going on down there.

Dear Mr. Reno:
This issue is from 2-3 years ago
yet I am going to ask anyway and see if there is anything i could do

my renters owe me 931.00 in water bills..I have the water bills and no receipts from checks for 9 months yet I have many other months where they wrote checks for water.
Not sure if I can go after them of course they will not answer phone.
Thanks for any information.

Julia W., FL

A: Start a small claims court action. That'll get a rise out of 'em.

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Published 2014-11-06

Dear Mr. Reno:
My soon to be ex husband and I own a home together that is being rented out under fair market value to his ex wife. We have a month to month lease with mine and his signature as landlords. I need a place to live. Can I terminate her lease without his permission? What if he has went behind my back and signed a new lease with her that is only signed by him?

Amanda Jones, Texas

A: I just went through this. You can terminate the ex, but he can re-rent to her, and that will continue until the divorce judges tell him to stop. So your divorce lawyer may have to put the kabosh on renting to Hubby's ex.

Dear Mr. Reno:
Good morning.. I'm seeking your assistance and guidance. I am in law enforcement, have three kids, and recently separated from my husband in Nov 2013, Back in May I fell behind on some bills and decided to rent my basement temporarily for the summer, however a friend of mine recommended Simone who's aunt got sick and she needed a place to stay for 2 months. She moved in on July 1 and I wanted her gone almost immediately, she had her son move in and a boyfriend. They smoke weed and cigarettes in my home which is against the written agreement. She was supposed to move out by Sept 1 however came up with and excuse that another landlord took her deposit and she hasn't heard from them..needless to say it's Oct 31 already and she hasn't moved out or paid rent since July. I started the court process by giving her/them a vacate notice on Sept 16, that's up today. Doesn't look like she's going to be out this weekend..what should I do next besides file the paper in court to request a Hearing?
Please advise.

Sherice S.

A: You can start your holdover eviction. You gave them one full month's notice? Right? The month of October? Then you're cleared for takeoff. Good luck.

Dear Mr. Reno:
We have a couple that are 2 months into a 1 year lease. One of them wants out of the lease, but the other doesn’t. We are willing to terminate the lease, but for both of them. What are our options if one person refuses to terminate the lease and the other person moves out?

Tami

A: They've got to be on the same page. You can't be their marriage counselor or referee. Until (and unless) they both agree on what they want to do, the lease stays the way it is and they're both on the hook for the full amount. whether they're still there or not.

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Published 2014-11-03

Dear Mr. Reno:
My dilemma is this..I payed off my mobile home 7 months ago when i was under a contract of rent to own..

The landlord has yet to give me the title every time i would go pay the lot rent i would ask them about it they would come up with different exuses. I lost my job 3 months ago so while looking for a new job i fell back on the lot rent..I have found a decent paying job but unfortunately its in texas.I wanted to sell my trailer but because i dont have the title i cant so i offered to sell it back to the original landlord for a lesser value he sold it to me..(He sold it to me for 7000.00..im asking 5000.00-4000.00) but this maniac only is offering 1000.00..which is unfair..keep in mind i was counting on this money to move my family to tx.. now hes telling me if i dont take this 1000.00 im getting evicted from a place i payed off.. can he do that??what can and shall i do..I feel so screwed over and pissed..please help..

Viviana in the sunshine state of Florida

A: Trailer lots are a Hybrid. You're an owner- but you're a tenant at the same time. You own the trailer- but you rent the lot. He can't evict you from the trailer, but he can evict you from the lot. That's what's happening.

You also made the mistake of not getting the title when you paid him- but that's a separate issue.

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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 I’ve 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.

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Published 2014-10-29

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.

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 “slipped” 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 “fall” 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 “issues” 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.

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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
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    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 hasn’t 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 (don’t 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 don’t want her to stay as her and I do not get along and I don’t want to share my apartment with someone who is very unpleasant and irresponsible. There is no lease agreement in place, and her stay hasn’t 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.

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    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 – 2nd partner again filed bankruptcy

    Breaches: no insurance, no worker’s comp, haven’t 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 doesn’t 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.

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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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