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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 2014-08-01

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:
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 landlord’s 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?

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).


Published 2014-07-29

Dear Mr. Reno:
Here’s a good one for ya John. I have a tenant who had an automatic roll over clause in the lease, to renew for another year @ 5% increase, unless written notice was given that either of us did not want to renew. At the end of the first year they phoned and said they did not want the renewal for another year, and would stay on month to month basis. Since they were no problem and careful with utilities, I allowed them month to month. They did not pay rent increase, said they could not afford it.

That was 5 years ago. We all know insurance and oil has doubled, and taxes water and lipa has almost doubled. After 4 years I said I could not insulate them from costs of living that I have no control over, they must pay a cost of living increase, not even a rent raise to me. Again they refused saying I have no right to raise their rent. Why not I asked? They said because I was supposed to wait till the end of the year. I explained that raising rent at the end of the year applies only at the end of a locked in lease term. When you have a month to month, as they chose, the landlord has no rent raise restrictions and could raise rent every month if they so choose. They basically called me everything including a liar, and haven’t paid an increase in 5 years. Then they lived out their security because I labled their rent checks “insufficient rent” and applied it as a shortage monthly.

I sincerely want them to know they are wrong, and no matter how I explain it, they think they know better. Hopefully hearing from you will enlighten them. Please tell it like it is to Lisa and ED PS they are finally leaving because I got fed up and decided to sell the house. They’ve shopped for months and cannot find anything near what they have for under $1500.00 a month. They’ve been paying only $1325.00 I believe they may be starting to realize I deserved an increase, but still stand staunchly by their belief that “I have no right to raise their rent. I’m supposed to support them @ year 2009 prices.” Can you word you response convincingly so they believe me?
Thank you so much. I hope to be calling you soon for a closing. Joan

Joan, NY

A: Raising the rent unilaterally is very tricky. I usually tell my clients in this situation (month to month) if they won't agree to the increase, serve a 30 day notice. That will get their attention. And when they ask why, tell him because you wont pay the increase, that's why. Bottom Line: you can't force them to pay an increase, but you could have kicked their butts out years ago.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am a landlord of a building we own in Lewiston, Maine. We have a new tenant that is doing foster care for her sister. As part of that process the State Fire Marshall has done an inspection and come up with violations that need to be addressed. The local Lewiston Fire Department regularly inspects the 3 unit building about every three years and they have never sited me for the issues the State Fire Marchall is doing. It would result in between three and five thousand dollars to upgrade.

I'd like to know if we can just evict the tenant and not do the upgrades the State Fire Marshall wants. I feel he is using a higher standard than the local fire department. The Statement of Deficiencies has to be responded to in 10 days from the date of receipt. Unfortunately, I received it last Saturday, 7/19/14, so the clock it ticking.

I await your experienced consideration.
Thank you,

Thomas, ME

A: You can't evict her. That's a non-starter, but if you think the Marshall is off base, fight it. You have to respond. So respond. You think the standard is wrong. But note: There's an expression "you can't fight City Hall" That's what you're doing.

Dear Mr. Reno:
We cannot get a copy of our deed and were told we have to hire a lawyer? The property is paid in full. Thanks.

Mike and Susan

A: Go to the County Clerk.

Dear Mr. Reno:
My name is Kyle hartwig I live in mesa,as my mother purchased a home for me after my divorce almost 4 yrs ago. I pay double the mortgage to keep a nest egg for any and all repairs and pay all bills.. almost a year ago my girlfriend and her minor children moved in and my mother doesn't like her, so because I choose to be with her my mother has issued a eviction notice what are my rights and if she's treating me now as a tenant? can I recover some of the money I invested and can she just leave the court papers on my door? please help..

Kyle H.

A: First of all, where the Hell is "Mesa, as"? Oh, Arizona? Okay, well, obviously it's her house, and you've been a good son, helping her financially and all, but then you moved in your gal and her children (that's plural- children) that she didn't approve of, but you did it anyway! That was your mistake- start packing.


Published 2014-07-26

Dear Mr. Reno:
The landlord reported the debt to the credit bureau, but the tenant called and faxed a stipulation and says he doesn't owe the money anymore because the stipulation stated that the landlord would not get a judgment if the keys were surrendered.

The landlord feels there is still a debt regardless of not getting the judgment. What do you think?

John, NY Manager

A: You said in the stipulation, no judgment if they vacated & surrendered the keys and all actions waived, so if they held up their end, they're off the hook.

So there is no debt. Sorry John


Published 2014-07-25

Dear Mr. Reno:
Can I legally serve a 10 day notice to quit by certified mail or do I have to personally hand it to them or tape it on the door. The law states something about mailing the 10 day notice to quit might not be legally recognized.

Michael Christopher - Pennsylvania

A: I can't answer that one. These requirements vary from state to state, county to county and even court to court. You can call the court clerk where the evictions are done- they may help you. Otherwise, you'll have to ask a local attorney. Sorry Mike.

Dear Mr. Reno:
Anna Rush and I live in Gwinnett Co in GA and I have a consent judgment which says Writ of Possession shall be issued on 06/30/2014. What does this mean? What are my rights?

Anna R., CO & GA

A: You have to give this to law enforcement (Sheriff, Marshall, Constable, whatever- whoever does the evictions). They'll take over- but there may be a fee.


Published 2014-07-22

Dear Mr. Reno:
My husband is the manager of a company and we have company housing. He is trying to push for a divorce and I won't agree to it. I have reason to believe he's meeting with a lawyer to attempt to evict me. I am wondering if he is legally allowed to evict me where I am his wife? And if so, do I have a legal leg to stand on? Thank-you in advance for your assistance.

Sarah L. in northern Alberta

A: You have a leg to stand on. He doesn't. You can't evict your wife that way. If he tries it, then you start a divorce. That will stop him in his tracks- cause the divorce court will take jurisdiction.

Dear Mr. Reno:
Hi, I have a tenant who's lease expires on Aug 31st, 2014. She hasn't paid rent since June, I have gone over, emailed, called and sent out both a Non-renewal and a Notice to Cease. In the Notice to Cease I stated she violated the lease by painting, repairing and putting up fixtures without seeking written consent, as well as paying rent biweekly via personal checks when it clearly states on the lease via ONLY cash or certified checks. It had slipped my mind that I allowed her to paint, so I am resending my Notice to Cease/Quit.But then she put a stop on the check for June's rent. I want to start eviction, but my fear is that if I do it will take a long time, she may overstay there, which I don't want, she may also damage more than her SD given. We also were looking to move in immediately after the lease expires. The other issue we face is that have her SD but never put it in an interest bearing account. I was told to still start the eviction process, and that even though we did do that with her SD, we wouldnt have a problem, but that the judge would just say that a the SD be used for unpaid rent. My questions are, will we get a hefty penalization for this (could we get screwed?) If she decides to move out before the lease expiration (runs away) and doesn't pay and we catch her, could we call the police and have her arrested for this? How long does an eviction process take if we were to file Monday? Also if after inspection, and damages are assessed, how quickly or how high are our chances of getting money from her for the unpaid rent and damages? Will she have to eventually pay? We gave her until the 15th to pay, she hasn't, and so I gave her 5 days to leave when I sent her the Late Rental Payment Agreement, which she never signed or will. Is that legal?

A: You're making this way too complicated, Hema. This is a simple non-payment eviction. Forget the painting and the personal checks. Keep it simple and evict her for non-payment. You'll also get a money judgment. Can you collect? You've got about 30% probability. That's our system.


Published 2014-07-21

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a tenant who relocated from New Jersey and has rented from me for about 2 yrs. The first year they expressed desire to rent for only one year, because they plan to buy a home in CA the following year. Tenants initialed all forms and signed the extensive Rental/Lease agreements throughout they were somewhat aloof about the Rental/Lease agreement (an LPA produced CA Lease/Rental Forms). Tenants paid rent on time, but where somewhat difficult and not being very responsible and would call me about any little thing in the house. By the end of year, tenant/husband had quit his job in CA, indicated he had rejoined his old company in New Jersey, and was going to be allowed to work from home. They completed the first year lease, and requested a new 8-month lease to continue looking for the new home. Against prudency I generated a no fee 8 month lease at no extra cost to them. 60-days before end of 8-month lease I placed the home on rental Advertisement. Requested tenants to please allow showing of property when time came around. Tenants were indignant, because they felt they needed to extend the lease again and that I was not allowing them the opportunity to do so

I indicated their Lease was coming to an end soon and I could not extend the Lease; however, they would have the opportunity to renew the Lease for one year should they choose the option to do so. They rant, raved, and complained that I had to let them stay at least 6-month, because the Tenant/husband now was told to move back to New Jersey. I informed tenants that I could not do sixth month, because rental time frame was too short and rental market in September might be dry and risky. They consistently came up with kid being sick to every excuse for me to extend the Lease. I started to feel like they intended not to vacate the property. In the process they indicated the tenant\husband employer promised to pay 300 towards rent if I allowed them to renew six month. I weighed the situation and really just wanted them gone.

Eventually felt sorry for their situation and at the end of 8-month lease I put together a new again no fee 6-month lease from 2/28/14 to 8/28/14. The tenants lease does not expire until end of August, but first week of June I was surprised to received the “tenants notice to vacate” earlier than expected. They have said, they are expecting a child around the time the lease ends, and that they fully intend to break the lease, and plan to be in their new home in New Jersey by July 23rd. They have said that per the guidance of HUD they intend to break, pay their last month, and that I must do a move out final inspection July 22nd, and transfer the Electric and Gas account to my name.

I told tenants that under consideration I would honor the Lease Agreement up until the end of August, I could do a preliminary inspection, but the final inspection would happen at the end of the lease period.

Genis Z., California

A: You can't refuse the inspection, but that doesn't mean you're agreeing with them, breaking the lease. So if they are offering you the keys (i.e. surrendering possession) you must take possession and do your final inspection. Whether or not you sue them later is a decision you can't make until you re-rent- and can calculate your losses due to their breach.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have done the garnishment on my ex-tenants but some other bills have come in that they are responsible for. If the judge grants me a second judgment and I do another garnishment, will her employer deduct them both at the same time or should I wait until I have collected on the first one. Does Va. have a law regarding 2 garnishments form the same person at the same time ?
Thanks in advance.

Lois Bennett, VA

A: You can have as many money judgments as you want, problem is, they do them one at a time. Reason is, you're already taking the max under the law with the first one.


Published 2014-07-19

Dear Mr. Reno:
Hello! I have a tenant who's lease ends July 31st. When we tried to collect the rest of the rent for June on June 26th, he didn't have it. We told him we are not renewing the lease. He got very upset to put it lightly. The due date for July's rent came and went and we haven't heard from him. On July 11th, we left a written letter on his door reminding him that as we discussed on June 26th, we will not be renewing the lease and he needs to be out July 31st, and paraphrased our lease agreement that the house needs to be in the same condition as it was when he moved in. He hasn't replied to any phone calls, texts, etc., and almost gives us the impression he doesn't plan on going anywhere. Should I see if he moves out July 31st, and if so just keep his deposit, or do we need to go forward with a notice to quit? Even though we don't have proof, and he passed his background check, we have heard rumors of him being a drug dealer so we are trying to be careful.


A: Me thinks he isn't going anywhere. Start the process. (pay or quit). At the moment, he's enjoying his new rent, which is zero dollars a month.

Dear Mr. Reno:
My name is Cathy I live in Alabama. My adult son does not live at home, but told the police he does live here then he was arrested even though he doesn't live here the officer still said I have to evict him. My son has 2 children in which I have a relationship with and he doesn't so he called the department of human resources stating their mother and step father abuse them. I have them 4 out of 7 days a week. So these babies are not abused. We called the police when he came here then he was arrested for a traffic the police said we have to evict him. How do you evict someone whom does not reside at your home. Hope to hear from you soon Thank You,

Cathy, Alabama

A: My father once said "you kids can stay here your whole life" to which my mother replied "NO THEY CAN'T!" This is a very complicated issue- evicting a grown up child. You should read the decision on this website "recent victories."
Also, you can start a proceeding against someone- even if they're in and out- because they're claiming it as their residence. You'll need a lawyer for this- lots of grey area here.


Published 2014-07-17

Dear Mr. Reno:
In response to a rather terse letter from me (about their improper behavior), my tenants are "punishing" me by simply not paying the rent. I believe they are goading me into an eviction because they no longer want to stay because they're mad at me for chastizing them.

Well, I want them to stay and pay - my rental is on a private beach street, and I get less rent if I rent in winter. If I start eviction proceedings (after the "Demand Rent" letter), I believe they will leave immediately and not pay me. There is no talking to them.

As of today, they owe me for November and December - $4400 ($2200/month). Will an eviction get me my money? Can it get my rent until the end of the lease in Spring 2014, or until I re-rent the property?

Of course, I wish I never sent that letter. I'm just getting past Sandy damage repairs, getting back on my feet. Too late for regret, how do I get my rent?
Thank you!

Nancy, NY

A: If you evict them, you should get a money judgment for the two months at least. After you re-rent, you can take them back to court and get another judgment for lost rent. Also, if you have to rent for less, you can get a judgment for the deficiency. But there's a catch... will any of these judgments be collectable? Maybe, maybe not. I can't answer that.

Dear Mr. Reno:
Hi, I live in Seaford NY and I am writing this for my mother. She is renting an apartment in our home (not legal).

Recently we have ran into many issues with the tenant. She snuck a cat into the apartment, which we found after she left a candle burning all day and the fire alarm went off. We are very allergic to the cat at gave her two weeks to get rid of it. She is refusing and now threatening to report the apartment and change the locks.

We have always had issues with her letting us in her apartment (even with days notice) and she has even threatened to key our neighbors car when they parked in front of out house.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you

Stephanie, NY

A: This can't go on. You can't live like this. You're going to have a serve a 30 day notice, & then evict her. They'll be a loss of rent & maybe even a town violation to deal with, but if she reports you, it was only a matter of time before she did that anyway.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I live in queens, NY. My mom has a tenant in her basement apartment (not legal) its a month to month lease and tenant hasn't paid rent in 2 months. My mom mailed a termination notice by regular and certified mail. She was told by someone that she should've served her personally as well. Is that true? The tenant is also saying she cant move until she finds a job and saved enough money. What should we do next to get her out of my moms house? Please help!!!

Tenisha, NY

A: New York City is the hardest place to evict someone. Even if the service by mail is enough, I can almost guarantee the termination is defective. It's very complex. You need to hire someone. Or she'll be there for ever. (Even with an expert, it will take 3-6 mos.)

Dear Mr. Reno:
I m buying a house at Kern county. There is a tenant in this house,and she has section 8 . what can I do to make her move out . Escrow supposed to be closed by the end of this month ,but because of her they can't do it. What is the law of section 8? Thank you.


A: You have to honor the lease. If it's a year, you can't cancel until its up. If its a month to month, then you can give a 30 day notice.
You have to let Section 8 know what you're doing. Call them. They'll talk to you.


Published 2014-07-16

Dear Mr. Reno:
Might you be able to refer me to an attorney in Bay County FL who might help me to evict my not-paying-tenant? In June I filed the 3-day notice, and the sheriff served the 5-day notice, which is how I normally evict tenants. Instead of the sheriff following up with the 24-hour-notice as is customary here (ref, this time nothing happened for a week or so.

The tenant wrote a note to the judge stating that she should not have to move because she has nowhere to move to. After that, I was notified that I had to go to mediation next week, so that I will be convinced to let the tenant can stay rent-free. I cannot mediate the expenses I pay for the property (PITI) plus repairs and the rental income barely covered those expenses.

I am a senior who is now trying to live on 12K per year from SS, so if I don't have a PAYING tenant, I will lose the property. Since it is now underwater, if I lose the property they will take my own home to pay for the difference between the mortgage on the rental property and whatever the property can be sold for. Although I hope to find a new job soon, the outlook is not looking good.

Since my SS is direct deposit, I do not need an address to receive it, but I do not want to live in my car. I have not been able to find a local attorney who will handle Landlord-Tenant cases (at a rate I can afford). The FL Bar was not helpful either. Please help?

Thank you in advance, and I apologize for my inability to make this more succinct.

Sue, FL (Bay County)

A: My first suggestion was the Bar. You said no good. But that's the Florida Bar, did you try the Bay County Bar? (Step two: Internet.)

Dear Mr. Reno:
How can i evict people living in my house when i cant get there names Sent from my iPhone

Anthony, Linsley, Ct

A: You list the names you know, and "John Doe and Jane Doe" as subtenants.


Published 2014-07-14

Dear Mr. Reno:
I need to evict someone who already agreed to leave but then decided a week later they need a 30 day notice. They left my home but there stuff is still there. I can't find them so how do get a eviction notice to them? I can't live in my home due to if he comes back, he is a threat to my family.

KK from Texas

A: That's a common concern, but not a problem. You don't need to serve the tenant personally to do an eviction. There's always an alternate method- attach to front door, certified mail, etc. You need a professional process server that knows how to serve eviction papers.

Dear Mr. Reno:
Our tenant installed an above ground pool without our knowledge, the property has no fence at all. When we found out we verbally told them to take it down, she got mad and hung up on my husband after saying ok. She never took it down, two weeks later we send a registered letter stating to take it down or we will start eviction procedures, she wouldn't accept the letter. Finally we had our property manager go over and post the letter on every door, but they were home and the letter was delivered personally and was read. Today is the final day for them to take it down and they haven't yet. Also they have had drunken parties that the police were called to twice since the pool was erected.

Our lease reads that no structures should be erected without prior written notice from us. They also have not paid July's rent yet and no communication from them. Can we evict them? We would like to sell the house since we have had bad luck with it and buy rental property elsewhere. The house is in Alabama.
Thank you,

Natalie P.

A: Here's the normal procedure.
1st, you send a Notice of Default- stating that if they don't (within 10 days) take down the pool, you'll terminate the lease.
2nd, you terminate the lease after 10 days. 3rd Evict as holdover tenants.
Note: you can only do #1 if your lease says you can. Most leases do. Does yours?


Published 2014-07-11

Dear Mr. Reno:
Prospective new tenants have agreed to rent from us and are coming to sign their one year lease on Thursday of this week. I received an email from them today stating that they are concerned because there is "no item protecting us from someone trying to sell the townhouse while tenants are living in it". They are asking me to add "a line to the lease agreement that protects them and gives them peace of mind". Although we have no intention to sell the property at all because it is part of our retirement income. I do not feel comfortable adding such a statement to my lease. Please let me know what legal (and reasonable) response I should make to answer their request.
Thank you,

Kaye P., LA

A: "In the event of the sale of this townhouse, the new owners shall be bound by all of the terms of this lease." (That's the law anyway- LOL.)


Published 2014-07-10

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am a new Landlord and I have tenants who moved out and did not pay their last month's rent. The final month was pro-rated, but they didn't pay. How long do I have to wait to report them to the credit beaurus because I do not have a security deposit from them nor did they leave a future mailing address. They are avoiding me.

Isaac from North Carolina

A: For most people, the Credit Bureaus don't care who owes you money unless you have a judgment. Unless you're a financial institution (Chase, Visa, Amex, etc.) you have to sue b/4 it goes on their credit, that is, unless you know something I don't know.


Published 2014-07-08

Dear Mr. Reno:
This tenant is a month to month tenant. Last week she told me she was moving out she was drunk she was telling people on the phone she gave me notice but no date. I am hoping that thirty days is standard she also stated that she was going to live at her boyfriends fathers rental property. Then she left the next day to Ariz. For a week. I was told it will be two soon of course the main drain backed up the next day what a mess cost ect. Her notice was verbal there is nothing in writing . What should I do she also left a post dated check for the rent. I did not cash it I figured if I did I would be renewing the tenancy. She gave me verbal notice on June 20, 2014. She is a chronic alcoholic and bipolar we have really tried to help her but really can't take it anymore she is so crazy we can't talk to her. What should I do I was thinking of writing her to acknowledge her notice and date to vacate. I know she will either deny or just take her sweet time. I can't imagine she would want to deal with the courts as she was just convicted of a class e felony and is on probation. She was also arrested threatening by text . She is a mess thankyou for you response .

Pati in smithtown, NY - aka exhausted

A: I'm so confused my head is spinning. She left- she didn't leave- you got the rent- you won't take it. What's the deal? If you want her out- but she's paying- did you give her a 30 day notice? You should call me- I'm in your area (667-RENO).

Dear Mr. Reno:
I live in Brooklyn, NY and my Tenant has violated a Court Stipulation to vacate by June 30th.
I gave them a concession of 2 months Rent in return for this move out date.
Can I go after them for the back rent since they did not comply as we agreed?
Thank you

N.W., NY

A: Probably not. It depends on the exact wording of the stipulation. Sometimes the concession is conditional on them vacating on time- but not usually. Mostly, its just waived.
You can sue for July and thereafter in small claims- but probably no retro.


Published 2014-07-07

Dear Mr. Reno:
  My question is:
1.      In SC when can a tenant can refuse to pay rent?
2.      In SC , in which circumstances can a tenant deduct the security deposit from the final month’s rental without the written consent of their landlord?
3.      In SC, if the tenant makes such a deduction and fails to pay the rental after written request by the landlord is the landlord justified in reporting this failure to the credit bureau? (via LPA) 4.      Should we be worried about the implied threat they make which is described in the final paragraph below

  5.      BACKGROUND
·         The tenants have been on a month to month lease since February 2014. We advised them, at the end of their lease in February, when the rental arrangement changed to month to month basis,  that we wanted to sell the house during 2014 and we promised to give them as much notice a possible.
·         On Memorial Day our tenant had called us to show us mold on the ceiling of the master bathroom and showed us a small patch about 12”x12” which we photographed. (During this discussion they offered to take up a two year lease if we would reduce the rental. We did not accept this offer.)
·         We employed a building contractor to check the roof and attic for structural water leaks and got a plumber to check for plumbing leaks. Both reported absolutely dry conditions in the attic, including the drip tray under the HVAC.
·         We then did a mold test of both indoor and outdoor air samples and a swab  the mold itself. The test report indicated ‘No elevated mold conditions’ but noted that there was a greater spore count from the indoor sample than from the outdoor sample.
·         At the beginning of June we decided to sell and gave them notice on June 9 to vacate on July 31. ((just over 6 weeks) They asked for another 30 days and we said OK provided we could show the house during August. At this point we also gave them a copy of the lab report.
·         We then consulted with Mold Solutions Inc (remediation specialists) who advised us that this result was an air quality ‘slightly out of ecology’ and recommended that we clean the HVAC system - which we did. The contractor reported to us that nothing other than usual household material was removed from the system.
·         On Thursday last week they informed us that they had found a new rental and would be leaving at the end of July. However, they also became abusive and threatened to “leave the house unsaleable because of the ‘mold problem’.
·         They also stated that they believed that we were not going to refund their deposit so they would be deducting it from the final month’s rent. We disagreed with this immediately.
·         We checked with Mold Solutions Inc, who informed us verbally that there is nothing in the mold report that requires disclosure. Nevertheless we have made a full disclosure of what has happened to our appointed selling agent and given them all documentation.
·         On Saturday we received a rent check from the tenant (for the final month’s rent) with the annotation that their security deposit had been deducted – ie short paid by some $1700.
·         We wrote to them pointing out that this is not acceptable in terms of SC Landlord tenant law and that we had never agreed to this, requesting that the pay in full by the due date (July 5)
·         They responded quoting SC law (SECTION 27-40-610. Noncompliance by landlord in general) accusing us of wilfully ignoring a health issue (mold) and neglecting two other small maintenance issues, making no mention of any full payment of the missing rental for July.

Maryanne Gilbert in South Carolina

A: Tenants have no right to "live out their security" but the problem is, when they do, there isn't much you can do.

You guys sound like you're headed to small claims court.

Mold issues wont help them in court.

Also, if they haven't left, & you seem very motivated to resolve this, I would start a no-pay eviction now. Get it going. That will iron it all out.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I'm dealing with a Landlord/Tenant issue in Williamsburg VA. I served my tenants a 5 day pay of quit notice at the beginning of June-they have not paid any rent for May, June or July and were behind prior to that. We have a court date ser for July 14th. The tenants state they will pay $8000 (they owe double that) if I allow them to stay until the 25th when they can move into a new rental. I would like the payment because I think this may be the only way I get any payment from them. However I do not want it to effect the judgement. Will I lose the judgement if I allow them to stay for another 21 days?

Liz, VA

A: If they offer you $8000, take it.  If you don't, you're nuts.
  But it has to be cash up front.  It can't be a check, or a promise they'll pay next week.  (Stop worrying about the judgment.  It's usually not worth the paper its written on.)

  "A bird in the bank is worth two in the bush" (but it has to be a real bird- not a fake one.)

Dear Mr. Reno:
Can I evict Jane Doe when I don’t have the tenants full-name...?

Paul G., Ohio

A: Yes, That's why we evict John Doe & Jane Doe everyday! (They really get around!)


Published 2014-07-03

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a multi-tenant office building ( 88 suites) located in St. Louis, Missouri. I would like to know if I can lock a tenant out of the suite when the rent is not paid?

Ray, MO

A: Ray, Only in your wildest dreams. I wish it were that easy!
Even though it is a commercial rental, the law still requires an eviction process. Sorry!

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am a landlord and do not wish to renew the current tenant's lease for various reasons. The tenant has since filed and obtained disability because she has COPD. Is this going to be a problem when I send her a Notice of Non-Renewal of Lease notification?

John, MO

A: If you use the proper notices with sufficient time, let's hope she leaves. Otherwise, you may have to evict for holdover.
What is COPD? (I'm a lawyer, not a doctor!) ;)

Dear Mr. Reno:
We moved out of state and forgot to give keys back tho house has been vacant since may. I'm owed 950 for deposit but he does not want to give it back due to he hasn't rented the apartment in 2 months because he didn't have the keys. Is he allowed to keep deposit because of that ? He could have easily changed locks and deducted the money

Mariette, From Massachusetts to Connecticut

A: It's a small claims court case. He can probably keep only one month. So if $950 is 2 months you can get back half. But if you're out of state, considering gas & tolls, is it worth it?


Published 2014-07-02

Dear Mr. Reno:
My mom got a reverse mortgage . She died Nov.of 2013 so I rented her home in March of 2014. They quit paying rent in June of 2014. Now they are not getting out of the house and the mortgage company is giving information to them that they won't even tell me . What should I do ?

Cathy, IL

A: You have to be appointed Administrator. Otherwise, nothing you can do legally. Once appointed, boot'em out for nonpayment. Then rerent. But for how long, I don't know. With a reverse, don't they take the house back?


Published 2014-07-01

Dear Mr. Reno:
Question: Can a tenant lock out a landlord from their commercial property, refusing to give landlord keys, change the alarm company, refusing to give landlord code and allow landlord to make up their own password ?
Thank you in advance.

Catherine, Indiana

A: Well it may be a lease violation- maybe grounds to terminate the lease. But until that happens, the tenant is King of his Castle.

Why do I say that? If you call a cop or Sheriff, you can talk 'till you're blue in the face, they're not gonna let you in. They'll tell you to get a lawyer. So there you are. You have a lease, but it won't enforce itself. That's your lawyer's job.


Published 2014-06-30

Dear Mr. Reno:
My grandmother has been living in my mobile home for five months now. Home is in my name, all bills are in my name, I pay the rent, lot rent, satellite, and insurance. She has paid the utilities for 4 months (120/month). There is no contract signed. I verbally stated that since she had nowhere to go she could move in & watch my son as her part. Well my son is in daycare & she doesn't keep him anymore. She was keeping him 10 days a month from 8am-5pm while I was working. We haven't spoke since an argument and I want her out. What do I do?

Amanda, North Carolina

A: Well I hate to see this but you have to evict granny like any long-term guest that has worn out their welcome. I'm not sure in No. Car. if it's a 30 day or 60 day notice to vacate, (ask around- I think it's 30) and then if she hasn't but the road, its a "Holdover" eviction just like someone that stayed after their lease was up.


Published 2014-06-27

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am a Marine that was living in New York and have since been reassigned to California. My wife (I just married in Jan) owns a house in Suffolk and is still there until she finishes school. I moved out in Jan to take my new assignment and when I moved out she let her friend move in to help with the rent. Her friend now will not move out and we are trying to sell the house. It is kind of a weird situation as she did not pay us any rent but her soon to be ex father in law (who owns one of the mortgages) took one year of cost off of the mortgage for the payment. Since then the "roommate" has been in the crazy ward and had her children taken away from her. My wife and I are going to be in a financial burden due to the move from NY to Cali and not being able to sell the house. We are trying to figure out the quickest and easiest way to get this "roommate" out of the house. I guess my main question is what is the quickest option to get her and all her furniture out of the house? And can I use the Soldiers and Sailors act due to me receiving official orders to get her out?

1stSgt William H., NY

A: What do you mean "out quick"? How's 3 mos? That's the best I could do. Call me if you're interested, I'm in your area 667-RENO.

Dear Mr. Reno:
And I have my 29 year old son living in my home and I want him out of my home so I already served him with a three day and also a 30 day notice . It's over the 30 days and he did not respond so could you if you don't mind telling me the next steps and the right forms I need to file to get him out ASAP


A: Every court has its own forms. You should proceed down there & get'em. (Try online- many courts are publishing.)


Published 2014-06-25

Dear Mr. Reno:
My step dad owns the house i live in. I am on the deed with him and my mom. I have no written contract. I just pay the bills. House payment utilities upkeep. Have lived there for 7 years at least. Can they evict me and or my boyfriend because they dont want him there? Hes done repairs and contributed to bills. We have done nothing. Wrong. No contract exists.. i am on the deed.
Thank you!

Raine, Michigan.

A: You can fight that. If you're on the deed, you're an owner. One owner can't evict another. As far as BF goes. He's there with your permission. So he's safe. Why can't you people get along? What does mom say? You're gonna help BF & lose mom. Is it worth it?

Dear Mr. Reno:
My grandmother is currently trying to force her grandson to move out after they had an argument and he punched a hole in the drywall. My questions is, is she able to do this since she has been claiming as a household member for the past four years for her food stamps, or is she required to file for an eviction notice?

Zack from Kentucky

A: If he doesn't leave voluntarily, she has to evict. Not because of the food stamps. It's because of his residency. He's not a rude dinner guest. He lives there. Them's the breaks.

Dear Mr. Reno:
Hi, Thanks so much for having this great service!
Question: If a person has not returned keys, and has left belongings behind from a share, and is not any longer under any lease (i.e., it had been 2 months, then was extended month to month, then was given 30 days notice), is there a time period after which they can be said to have technically "vacated" and therefore have no hold on my place any longer? Someone is currently doing this in my place to threaten some kind of squatting-type situation, to try to force me to return their full security, which under the circumstances seems entirely unjustified.
Thanks so much.

Nathan, NY

A: There's no "technically" vacated. If their stuff is still there, then they are still in possession. But sometimes there are grey areas. What if they've left mostly garbage? Garbage doesn't count. My rule of thumb is wait until the clothes are gone. Wait another 30 days. Then move in.
On the other hand, if you're in communication with them. and they deny they've left, you can't go in. You would have to evict.


Published 2014-06-24

Dear Mr. Reno:
Hi I'm Olivia from Ireland. Can my ex husband evict the tenants of our rental property even though I signed lease agreement with the tenants and not him?

Olivia, Ireland

A: If they have a signed lease from you- and you're an owner, then Hubby gonna have troubles with that eviction. (I'm involved in a case with the same situation right now- and it's a mess.)

Dear Mr. Reno:
My tenant signed a five-year contract with a home security company to install and monitor the rental property she lives in. One month later she told me what she had done and says she wants out of the contract. The company allows only three days to cancel the contract for any reason and the renter did not call the company to cancel the contract until later than three days. This was a nighttime door-to-door sales job and the equipment installer appeared about one hour later.

I suspect this kind of (blitz) sales job happens often. Can this contract be considered null and void because the home owner did not sign the contract and did not learn of the contract until one month after the fact?


A: The first thing they taught us in business law: You are bound by your contracts. So the tenant signed it. It's a contract. The tenant is liable. You didn't sign. You're off the hook. Congratulations?


Published 2014-06-23

Dear Mr. Reno:
Is it legal in the state of Virginia to have a provision in a lease, where the lease automatically renews for an additional year at the end of the lease, if the tenant does not notify in writing that they plan to end the lease/move out?

Charles, LPA member

A: As they used to say on "What's my line", you have stumped the panel! I don't know the answer.
In my state, NY, that clause is usually unenforceable. NY passed a law that turns it automatically into a month to month, specifically to nullify that clause...
But I don't know if Virginia has a law on that. Sorry Charles.

To avoid any problems, there are a few LPA renewal and/or move-out forms that are helpful whenever you are approaching the end of a lease - good to send approx 30 days before the expiration.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I had a tenant evicted in Nassau County, NY with a stipulation and judgement if they did not vacate per the stip. They did vacate, not sure what time, did not return the keys, left a fridge/freezer full of food, possessions on the deck, around the property and in the garage. We filed for the judgement and now have to go back to court to show cause why the judgement should not be vacated. Do we stand a chance?

Landlord, Nassau County, NY

A: Why should the judgment be vacated? This is just a ploy to buy time (business as usual in landlord/tenant court). Usually if the case is resolved initially by stipulation, the judgment may be stayed (delayed) briefly, but will not be vacated.


Published 2014-06-20

Dear Mr. Reno:
My mother rents out a small two bedroom house. The problem she's having is when these tenants rented her house they qualified for H.U.D. so she always received rent on time but as of March of this year H.U.D. dropped them so they haven't paid a dime and there's lots of damages in the house. I sent them a 30 day eviction notice in may but they still won't leave. So my problem is that my mother has brain cancer and can't get to the court house and no shape mentally to argue in court. With costs of treatment and meds she don't need to add attorney fees. I tried to file as power of attorney but the clerks office said has to be her or an attorney. Could you please help me here. Everyday she's losing money for rent and more property damage. Thank you

Kevin in Linton, IN

A: You need to be appointed her lawful guardian. You say you can't afford an attorney. I've seen it done without a lawyer. You may not get it right the first time, but if you're persistent, the court will appoint you. Then you'll have to do the eviction without a lawyer, which also isn't easy, but can be done. You've got your work cut out for you Kevin, so get going.

Dear Mr. Reno:
A former love relationship has turned into a "rental" situation. He has been living in my house for 26 years. For the last 3 years he has been staying in the basement. He has been giving me money every month but we have no paperwork. Will I have a problem evicting him?
Thank you!

Peggy, Suffolk County NY

A: Basement rentals are illegal, so don't expect any back rent. Other than that, it shouldn't be a problem. Give me a call, I'm in your area 667-RENO.

Dear Mr. Reno:
My Husband and I have a tenant of almost 4 years in our rental house. My husband went over to the house today to fix her outdoor light from the inside of the house. We found that the bathroom floor and tub was filled with water and feces.Was on the wall also. The basement was flooded with water and feces. We believe that they have their gas off. What do we do? My husband told me to write up an eviction notice, but I wanted to let you know about the incident first. Please respond ASAP!

Ruby L Jordan, Missouri

A: Give a 30 day notice, but you can't break the lease. So what's the plan? Is it month to month? (If so, end it. (You can also call the health department, but that's risky b/c sometimes they give the owner the summons.)

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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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