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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 2015-03-31

Dear Mr. Reno:
Hi...i evicted a tenant several years ago and let him back in 5 years he is again not paying the rent...can i still use the first eviction? Is there a statute of limitations? thanks

Dave, LI, NY

A: Nice try Dave. That'll never fly. You reinstated the tenancy- Warrant is null & void. So much for happy reunions.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I actually have 'Two' questions for you, if that's okay with you? My 1st question that I need your help with, actually has to do with a tenant living in Lincoln, Nebraska, who recently complained about a "mouse infestation" problem within my rental property. She recently reported to me that she hears mice moving about within the walls of the property all the time! That said, I can also tell you that this same tenant has lived at this property for approximately 3 years now. When the tenant told me about the so-called, mouse "infestation" that she is experiencing, I asked her if she had already set traps about? She reassured me had but that it's still not helping? I then told her I needed to do some calling around for professional advice, and that I would soon get back with her to resolve the problem. So when I called a professional exterminator to ask how they themselves go about ridding a property of small rodent infestation? I was told that they too set traps and that they also spray some type of chemical solution outside the perimeter as a preventive measure as well.  Now then, while I am more then happy to hire a professional to sort out the problem, I also wouldn't be a bit surprised to learn that this tenant 'may' in fact bear some responsibility for her newly acquired mouse infestation as well? That said however, I myself have not been inside this property as of yet. You see this small rental business belonged to my late mother and my Step-father. But now that my 84 y/o mother has passed on, I too have recently inherited the landlord job description.  I was also named as the Estate executor of the properties as well.  So now this 'Newbie' landlord is helping my elderly 74 y/o Step-father to try and manage 6 rental house properties.

  Lastly, I cannot tell you just how pleased I am to have found this landlord website! Just reading the "Q and A" section within this website has been a lifesaver alone!  Still, I must admit that this newbie landlord, (and new member here) is feeling a bit overwhelmed and stressed out to say the least.   = /

   My question for you is: How can I prove that she herself 'may' also be responsible for the rodent "infestation" problem?  For all I know she may not be the cleanest type of person? Or perhaps she leaves food out as well?  Will the professional exterminators vouch for the landlord ‘if’ they find reason to believe the tenant is responsible for the infestation?


  My 2nd question has to do with a tenant who reported that her sewer system backed up and was pouring water out the front door last Autumn!  My Step-father went over to the property immediately and found that she was right! (I did instruct my Step-father to take photos of the damage though.) So after my Step-father arrived at the property, he did give the tenant her full months rent money back! Unfortunately my Step-father handed her cash and he didn't have her sign a receipt. (Btw, my Step-father now knows to always get a receipt, and to put everything in writing should the tenant request something, and/or refuse something as well.)  Anyway, while the tenant accepted that months rent money in full, she then refused to accept her entire damage deposit back during that time as well?! She instead announced in a shrill voice for him to keep the damage deposit! And that she was going to sue him anyway! She went on and on about how my Step-father was going to be held responsible for this mess! And with a so-called gleam in her eye, she told him that HE would be responsible to PAY for the cost of her and her children staying in a Motel room, having her personal items moved out by a professional, and the storage cost as well!

  My step-father hired a professional plumber right away to find out what the problem was! The plumber did auger out the sewer line and found a clump of cloth material which had gotten snarled up within the auger blades itself. (We still have that exact same clump of cloth within a plastic bag.) So now, (several months later) the tenant has decided to take my Step-father to small claims court to get her damage deposit back?! Btw- I not only believe one of her children flushed the towel down the toilet, but I believe this whole event was a type of set up scam as well?  But hey, I also fully understand that the court doesn't care one wit about my so-called hunches either!  I know, I know Mr. Reno... just stick to the facts ma'am! (Grin) Still, I do wonder 'WHY' she more then willing to accept the damage deposit money that had been offered to her from the 'get-go' last fall?! 

  My question: Do you think I will need to hire an attorney to represent my Step-father? I’m also pretty sure that the plumber would testify if need be as well? But then again perhaps just the plumbers report will suffice? Right now my Step-father would really rather cave into the tenants damage deposit demands vs. going to court. But I told my Step-father to hang in there until I ran the info by you first!  And besides that Mr. Reno, my Step-father has already spent thousands of dollars repairing the damage caused by this cloth rag ending up on the sewer line as it is!  And lastly Mr. Reno, you can be 100% sure that this landlord newbie will be using all the wonderful forms, as well as all the advice, that you and all the other experienced landlords have offered here as well!

  Indeed telling you ‘Thank-You’ seems so trite.........  

Kathy B

A: You can prove it, the problem is, at what cost? Let's assume that the exterminator can state with "reasonable certainty" that the tenant's caused it. First, that's a big assumption, but if so, they'll testify but what will they charge you? You're talking about expert testimony. They can charge you as an expert. How much is the rat treatment? Which is more?

By the way, is this a single home or an apartment. Unless its a single home you have practically no chance of blaming the tenant b/c others are involved.

Finally, what does the lease say? My experience is unless the tenants are expreslly responsible for rat infestation, then it falls on the landlord.

Well I hope that was helpful (2nd answer to follow).


Published 2015-03-30

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am the landlord to a house and am currently renting out the house to some really bad tenants, they haven't broken any laws that I know of, besides a check that bounced back and bad arguments I don't much to make them leave.

They have signed for a half year contract, but my question is, can I give them a 30 days notice to vacate and break the contract as a Landlord and make them leave?

Paul S.

A: Say What? If there's one thing I hope my readers take away from this site, YOU ARE BOUND BY YOUR AGREEMENTS. But good job Paul: You only gave'em 6 mos.


Published 2015-03-25

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a question regarding a tenant. Just to give you a brief summary of what happened. We had a couple that ended up being locked out of our unit on 3/03/2015. I sent a certified letter to them letting them know that they had 7 days to arrangement to get their belongings from the unit. They did not give an address of where they moved to, so I sent the letter to our address, also included with that letter I sent an itemized bill of what they owed. They trashed the unit, put a hole in the wall, and we found needles and drugs; that we turned over to the police.

Before they were locked out, I sent them a text that they had 7 days that this would happen. They called to make arrangements, but I had started a new job and I would was not at home. I made arrangements for Saturday between 8:00am and 11:00, I informed them to be ready, and they stated “okay”. **One important note: After they were locked out, someone broke in and destroyed the door** , so I was told by the police to call them when they show up on Saturday, but they never came. David and I called the police, so it would be on record that they never showed up. The police did drive by a few times, while we waited outside for them to show up.

My question is; do we still have to give them back their belongings? Are we within our rights to sell a few of their belongings and put it towards the bill? I also told them that this would be the only day and time that they could pick it up. David is an over the road truck driver, so his only day off is Saturday.

Thank you

David and Gail

A: You're on thin ice there. Confiscating and selling valuables is generally a "no-no" unless you have a court order & go through procedure- (See my recent note to Nancy Joy.)

The only exception is if the items are truly "abandoned" which is a merky word, hard to prove & may be challenged. So E-Bay at your own risk Gail.


Published 2015-03-24

Dear Mr. Reno:
Just under 3 months ago, we allowed a male friend (non-relative) to park his RV in our yard to "help him out for a while" (and I'm sure you've heard many stories begin this way). He's been living there full-time since, eating meals with our family, using our utilities, etc.
After the first month, we muttered to him about our increased grocery bill, and he sent me $300 via PayPal with a note saying "January rent". He's sent no money since (2 months), and we have no written (or verbal) agreement in place.

Over time, I began to feel my wife's relationship with him had become inappropriate. Soon after expressing this, I was shown the door! I've been living elsewhere for two weeks, but am still paying the mortgage and all bills while my wife and our guest live there still.
I obviously think it's time for this fella to move on, but my wife is not on board. She and I are listed on the mortgage as joint owners. I intend to try as hard as I can in couple's counseling to convince her to unite with me in a plan to show this fella the door ... but if she doesn't want to play ball, can I evict him without her agreement?
Thank you --

Scott from Texas

A: Oh boy. I'm not sure if you need an eviction lawyer or a divorce lawyer.

Here's the Rub: A person is not trespassing if he is authorized by an owner, but not necessarily every owner. So you can't evict as long as he has her permission to hand around. I had a case like this recently- the divorce judge had to step in and end the nonsense. Otherwise, you're stuck in neutral Scott.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have wonderful tenants whose lease expires at the end of April. At that point I need them to vacate the unit because I need it for me to live in.
Am I allowed by the law to ask them to leave? How much prior notification do I need to give them?

Julia N., San Diego, California.

A: You should notify them now, so they have time to relocate. Thirty days is standard. And yes, you have the right to ask them to leave. The lease is up. You're cleared for take off.

LPA comment:
Additional California info From Landlord's notice to end a periodic tenancy
A landlord can end a periodic tenancy (for example, a month-to-month tenancy) by giving the tenant proper advance written notice. Your landlord must give you 60 days advance written notice that the tenancy will end if you and every other tenant or resident have lived in the rental unit for a year or more.201 However, the landlord must give you 30 days advance written notice in either of the following situations:

Any tenant or resident has lived in the rental unit less than one year; or The landlord has contracted to sell the rental unit to another person who intends to occupy it for at least a year after the tenancy ends. In addition, all of the following must be true in order for the selling landlord to give you a 30-day notice
The landlord must have opened escrow with a licensed escrow agent or real estate broker, and The landlord must have given you the 30-day notice no later than 120 days after opening the escrow, and The landlord must not previously have given you a 30-day or 60-day notice, and The rental unit must be one that can be sold separately from any other dwelling unit. (For example, a house or a condominium can be sold separately from another dwelling unit.)
The landlord usually isn't required to state a reason for ending the tenancy in the 30-day or 60-day notice (see "Thirty-Day or Sixty-Day Notice"). The landlord can serve the 30-day or 60-day notice by certified mail or by one of the methods described under "Proper Service of Notices".


Published 2015-03-23

Dear Mr. Reno:
BREAKING NEWS (4 months ago):

A: Folks, this is breaking news from late 2014.

I've often been asked by landlords if they are within their rights to reject Section 8 tenants (for those who don't know, most or all of their rent paid by the State.) I've been telling landlord's they are within their rights to turn down Section 8 , as long as its not a racial thing.

Well, as of late 2014, that advice has been WRONG WRONG WRONG, at least in New York State, This is now "source of funds" discrimination. NO can do landlords. Not in 2015 ya can't.

LPA note: See article 3 Legal Ways to Reject a Tenant Applicant

Dear Mr. Reno:
These renters have not put the electricity/water in their names since they moved in as specified in the lease. The electric/water is in my name as landlord. I agreed that they pay me addl funds so I could pay the electric charges on their behalf. They have not paid rent since August 2014. Since they have not paid rent or electric charges….I have turned off the electric as of march 1 as the charges are mounting up. I am also in the process evicting. But am I in trouble for turning off the electricity? The electric is currently not on.

Al in Delaware

A: In most places, that's a big "no-no"! As a general rule, a landlord isn't allowed to turn out the lights. Its called "self-help" and "constructive eviction" and other bad words. You could get a big fine and have to go to court, so turn on the lights and continue your eviction lawfully.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am 40 yrs old. Have 3 children, ages 5, 13 & 16. I have lived in my home 21 years. I am also newly separated. So I thought this could help financially.
My niece is 24 yrs old. She contacted me in August 2014. Said she needed a place to stay, that she would help with bills, kids, "whatever you need" she said. The months of Sept thru Dec she only gave me $140 and neglected to help around the house. Feel this was equally my fault, being no agreement was in place. First few days of Jan we had a discussion and came to a verbal agreement that she would pay $300 a month. In Jan she gave me $210. A week later she decided that it should be $200, that $300 wasn't fair. When in all honesty $300 doesn't even cover what she eats in my home. In Feb she takes off, don't hear from her for 2 weeks. She still has a key to my house, her things are still here. I only want her to pay what was agreed upon in Jan, which is $90 for Jan and $150 for half the month of Feb. She hasn't been here in over 30 days. Yesterday I received a text from her stating that she'll be at my house Monday with police to get her things. After everything I've done for her!! What are my options?

Tania H. Lexington, Kentucky

A: You lost me Tania. She says she's coming to get her things. Doesn't that mean your problem is solved.
Is it about the money? Okay then. You had a verbal agreement. That's what small claims is for.


Published 2015-03-19

Dear Mr. Reno:
We have a judgment in a rental income case from small claims court. The tenant did not appear, nor did he answer the court in any way. He has not responded to the judgment. We have tried to reach him--even sending a letter c/o his parents where we have been told he is staying. We can submit a motion to the court for periodic payments, but we believe he will not respond and we will be paying for the the motion, certified mail and then the sheriff to find and serve him (over $100). He owns a nice motorcycle as well as a truck. Can we attach the motorcycle without going back to the court? Do we have to find the motorcycle to attach it?

Nancy J., New Hampshire

A: If you have a judgment, you can seize an asset, but there's a procedure. You don't just stop by and say "I'll take the keys." In my county, Suffolk County, NY the Sheriff handles it. You must have a Marshall or Constable or similar official.

Note: You don't get the keys to it. It gets sold at auction. So no need to run out and buy a helmet.

Dear Mr. Reno:
My question is about a property i own with my brother. I was recently deported and will never return to the US. His two adult children live there and he does not. The house had been paid in full but he took out a home equity loan afterwards and still owes on it. My question is can i do anything to make him sell the house if he refuses to sell it? And will i be entitled to half of the sale amount. What is the average cost to pay a lawyer to do this for me and how long does it take? Thank you

Robert in California

A: It's a little out of my area, but, as a general rule, if two people own a house together, one can force the other to sell. In NY, they call it an "Action in Partition", takes 2 yrs, costs $5000-$10,000. They probably have something similar in Cal. (By the way, your inability to appear in court may be a problem.)

Dear Mr. Reno:
When I and my husband bought a duplex we have a aluminum shed on backyard. When I with my family went to vacation my tenant my shed trew up on garbage and bought new. I came back from vacation and ask them reciept how much cost it but they dont gave me and said "Don't worry I dont need any money". Now the tenant move out and take out this shed and I still with nothing. Please I need your advice. Thank you.

Tatsiana, NY

A: Sue in small claims court.

Dear Mr. Reno:
Kim Andrew – New York Own home and rent 2nd floor (legal 2 family).
Tenant gave deposit of $1250 (7) years ago and have recently moved out. We are contesting return of the deposit based on damages in the apartment – 1 being they siliconed the kitchen windows shut due to an ant problem which they never relayed to us was a problem. They responded to our non return of security letter and stated they are buddists and do not believe in killing live things.

Our problem is that the security deposit was not put in a trust account but our checking account. We only own 1 house and rent 1 apartment which is the house we live in. We never touched the money but the tenant stated in their response that they could win in court for the return of their deposit. If this proceeds in court do you think we would lose based on that alone or will the judge also look at the damages they caused.
Thank you.

Kim A. – New York

A: That's a problem, but usually if you have paid bills for the repairs, you'll get reimbursed. Offer 1/2, otherwise, might as well go to court.


Published 2015-03-18

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have rented a home to a husband and wife and mother. Have not seen the husband once after signing the lease. At any rate I have not received any rent since August 2014. I told them initially after water caused a ceiling to fall on one of the residents that they did not have to pay rent for 3 months – trying to avoid being sued - but then I changed that following your advice and told them they can collect on home insurance that I have on the residence. They have since been paid by the insurance company. They still haven’t paid any rent and the electric is in my name and they have not paid on that either. I have turned off the electricity as of March 1. And taking court action to evict. Am I in trouble for turning off the electricity?

Al in Delaware

A: No electricity since March 1? How can that be? Normally, the cops will make you turn it back on, but in this case, it sounds like they turned it on themselves, so, no harm, no foul.


Published 2015-03-17

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am writing you to find out if a disabled relative can be evicted. My brother moved in with me and my husband a year ago. What was originally supposed to be a temporary stay has turned permanent when he was injured and became disabled. He hasn't been able to work and insists on staying in my home. Is it possible to evict him since he is refusing to leave? Thank you for your time and help.

Carolyn, FL

A: I've seen it. More and more. He gets a 30 day notice. Probably need a local atty. This can get a little tricky.

Dear Mr. Reno:
My name is Judy and I rent out my downstairs 3 bedroom apt to a single mom with a 17 year and 15 year old boy. It is located in Lindenhurst, NY and it is legal with permit. She never pays on time and sometimes even a month late. Basically she pays when she can. I am sick of chasing her for rent and excuses and bounced check. This is month to month lease. Rent is $ 2000.00 and $ 75.00 for AC during the summer. At the moment, she owes me $ 1075.00 for August rent and $ 500.00 for February and has not pay March yet. She owes me $ 3575.00 as of today.

My question is for the holdover. Can the holdover proceeding starts anytime during the month or has to be the beginning of the month? I am thinking if she does not paid up by the beginning of April, I will give her 30 days notice in 4/15 and had her moved out on 5/15. Or I have to wait until 5/1 to give her 30 days notice? Your answer is greatly appreciated. Thank you very much

Judy, Lindenhurst, NY

A: No can do girl. You can't notify them to leave on the 15th. That notice would be defective & get tossed if challenged. I understand you want to see if you get the April rent. I get that- believe me. But the rules don't let you do that. Sorry.


Published 2015-03-13

Dear Mr. Reno:
I just purchased a duplex with tenants already in it. While touring the property before the purchase I noticed that she kept dogs, although her rental agreement stated no pets. The tenant inquired about keeping dogs in the house but I told her we'll deal with it after the sale is final. The purchase is completed with a new rental agreement signed indicating no pets. The tenant continues to keep pets according to the neighbor (it's a duplex). I've been trying to reach the tenant by phone without success. I wrote a certified mail to her indicating she has 14 days to resolve this issue, to call me back. If she doesn't respond, do I have the right to evict her in 14 days for violating the rental agreement?


A: Once again, poor Snoopy is caught in the middle. Evicting for pets is tough, but it can be done. (You would probably have been better off not giving a rental agreement in the first place!) Now, my first question, is it a month to month? If so, you could just give 30 days notice to terminate. But if you gave them a year, you're going to have a battle. (E.G. you start the eviction, pets are gone. Eviction ends. On no, they're back. Surprise!, etc., etc., etc.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am the owner of the home....My daughter, grandson and her boyfriend moved in July 2014 it is not working out ...fighting, threats, water heater tampering, severe property damage to my home and furniture, etc. I told them 6 months ago I was putting house on the market and that they would need to find residence elsewhere by March 1 2015 they now say April 1st 2015. There is no written agreement at all odviously I saw no need as this was my daughter. Ignoance is bliss. Needless to say how do I get them to leave? Preferably sooner then later... I am going to sell once I fix what has been damaged? Sincerely,


A: Sometimes I think I could make a living just evicting people's relatives. (I evicted Grandma last week, so sad.)

Your daughter & her BF need a 30 day notice before you can legally evict them. (Some states 60, but most just 30.) You're going to need help. This can be tricky. Good Luck.


Published 2015-03-12

Dear Mr. Reno:
I rented a home to a convicted felon who lied on his application about the conviction. His girlfriend recently declared bankruptcy and also lied about it. We did not catch that they were lying until after the lease was signed. Can I evict them for misrepresentation/fraud? They have become verbally aggressive and threatened bodily harm.

Patrick, Nevada

A: You're going to have to just hope they don't pay and you can evict them for non-payment. I've never seen an eviction purely on grounds that the tenants lied on their application. The only possibility would be if the misrepresentations (lies) were stated n the lease and the lease expressly provided that you could cancel based on a misrepresentation. Even then, eviction for lying? Never seen it. Sorry.

LPA note:
Can you evict them for misrepresentation/fraud? You should ask your local district attorney if charges can be brought against them.


Published 2015-03-11

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a rental property in San Diego. The tenant took unauthorized deduction from deposit. I send her an email to clarify I don't authorize deduction from deposit and will charge her $100 late fee for not paying on time. She has left the rental property (her lease is up and it was her final month), leaving door unlocked and keys inside. Her claim is that she should not be charged for late fee because it was not specified in our lease agreement. Can i charge late fee from her deposit? Truly appreciate your help.

Jessie, San Diego, CA

A: No. I don't think you can. A late charge has to be agreed upon in writing, (usually in the lease) Sorry Jessie.


Published 2015-03-10

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a tenant in Arkansas who put down a security deposit but didn't come in to sign lease. Now tenant wants deposit back because she is having financial difficulties and won't be able to move into the apartment. Does she get the money back? I have lost to renters holding the apartment for her.

Loyce, Arkansas

A: Here we go again. No one knows the answer. It's a puzzle. It's a question of what was said- what was implied- very technical. In the end, some small claims judge decides. My suggestion: offer her half.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I rented a garage to a person who wanted it to store his vehicle in. After paying his first months rent, the second month was late and know he is behind by 2 months. I have sent him letters and tried calling him numerous times with no response. Should I get a lien and take the car or do I need to go to court? also it states on his lease that he signed that owner has right to lockout tenant and seize any property in case of default. What is the best/fast way to proceed with this? Please help.

Taner, New York, Queens

A: You have rented commercial space. You are subject to the rental regulations. Probably need to evict for nonpayment. The car just complicates it. You need to speak to a NYC atty. This is above my pay grade. Enter based on the lease clause- you're on shaky ground.


Published 2015-03-03

Dear Mr. Reno:
We have been taking care of properties for 9 years inherited and to be 1/2 by my late husbands brother. He has not contributed any thing to the help or upkeep to the properties for 9 years only called 2 times and ask for money. My husband just passed away in Sept and in moms trust I was named after Rex for the inheritance them Jay then his wife Barbara. He has now hand delivered notes to the tenants to have all rent to be paid to him. Has told tenant that he could have the shed that is on the property and that was not the deal in our contract that was signed by tenant which contract ends in July of this year. Tenant could not afford to pay what we were asking so Husband lower rent that they could afford less the use of the shed which was agreed upon. Tenant is now insisting he wants the shed which I have for storage. Shouldn’t my contract be good till it runs out in July at which time I will be able to sell all stuff. Appreciate your advice. Thank You.

Lila, CA

A: You have a problem, but there is a solution. The problem is that you have a part owner with what is called "apparent authority" to act on behalf of the landlord. The solution is a certified letter to the tenant. "He is not the trustee- he has no authority. Consult your attorney to confirm this. Listen to him, at your peril." Problem solved.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a tenant that moved out 1/31
Did the walk thru with the husband, and had him sign the damage sheet.
I deducted the damages and refunded the remaining SD.
Wrote on the back of the check "Paid in Full/Final Settlement" in addition to the memo area on the front of the check.

  The letter stated that they could have their attorney contact me, or mail me with any questions, I asked them not to text me any longer because their text messages started to get nasty... 

  Letter also stated;
The remaining amount of your security deposit is enclosed. 
Cashing the enclosed check # 111 is surety's approval and agreement of full and final payment.  When they cashed the check they scribbled out on the back where it said
Paid In Full/Final Settlement.
Then they signed.
  Your thoughts?  can they alter my check like this?
And even with the letter stating all the deductions, and the above disclaimer, they cashed the check.  I am sure we are going to court now, what standings will they now have since they cashed the check, never contacted me and changed the check?
Thank you.

Claire, RI

A: I've heard different versions of this scenario. I don't know the answer because it's up to the judge. Let's just say, the check is just one of your possible defenses at Court.


Published 2015-03-02

Dear Mr. Reno:
When our last tenants signed the lease it was in the lease that NO pets were to be in the house. Within 15 days of them moving out we sent them a letter stating that we would be keeping a large portion of their deposit to fix things that they broke and to do a deep cleaning (don't think they cleaned once in two years). A week and a half later while the cleaners were there it was discovered that they had kept a dog in the house (dog toys and massive amounts of dog hair were found). Can we now keep all of their deposit since they broke the NO PET term of the lease or do we have to give them back the portion that we had already stated that they'd be getting back?
Thank you in advance for any advice or assistance you can provide. Kind regards,

Jennifer Gray

A: Just stick to actual out-of-pocket damages. That's all security is for. See


Published 2015-02-26

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a tenant that asked for a month to month lease, and on Jan 9 of this year he returned it to me signed. He then stated that he was moving because he was buying a house. He wanted to give me as much notice as possible but wasn't sure when he would close. On January 31st he texted me his intent to move out on march 9th, and told me it was ok for me to start advertising the house available for that date. He asked for more time on Monday 2/16 and I gave him to the end of march. I have tenants that want to move in on April 1st. Now on 2/24 he wants to stay because the house he was buying fell through.

My question is this, He only gave me his notice to move by text (I have all the texts), does that count as written notice? And is he legally obligated to move out by march 31st. Also, I never signed the new lease agreement because he said he was moving, and the old one that expired was month to month anyway, so there is no lease.


A: Wake up and smell the coffee Ray! He's staying. Notices, texts, its all irrelevant now. All bets are off. (I'm running out of cliches.) The jig is up, why are you beating a dead horse? Write up a lease for 'em.


Published 2015-02-24

Dear Mr. Reno:

Kelly, NC

A: Ignore his nonsense, Kelly, and just do your job. That's why you get the big bucks!

Dear Mr. Reno:
We lease optioned our home in Las Vegas 3 years ago and the lessees insist on paying lenders rather than us - we want them out and our home back so what can we do? We have sent written requests to pay us rent amount directly but they continue to pay lenders rather than us.

Sandra, NV

A: If they're paying it regardless, I would just let'em. What's the harm? Are you missing the "cash over"? If they're shortchanging you, then evict them for non-payment- otherwise quit the whining.


Published 2015-02-23

Dear Mr. Reno:
I live in Texas and have a property in PA. What state can I file in if the tenant sent me a bad check?

Maryann, TX

A: You have to go to him. Bon Voyage!

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am leasing a property in Pensacola, FL . The tenant I have been leasing to has been in jail for 2 months now according to his girlfriend. She and the children still reside in the house and there has been no payment made since he has been in jail. She is not included on the lease agreement and is refusing to make payment with the hope he will be released soon. According to her there is no running water or electricity on in the property because she can't make payments. I would like them to move out of my house. Do I still have to do an eviction notice even though she is not on the lease agreement.
Thank you in advance.

JaCouisa, FL

A: I've gotten this same question, in one form or another, about a thousand times. What most people don't understand is, legally speaking, jailbird is still "in possession" of this property. Even though he's not physically present ,his gal & the brood are still there, presumable with all his worldly possessions as well. So you evict him and his family just like any other deadbeat tenant who wont answer the door. Sorry Jacky- no short cuts here.


Published 2015-02-21

Dear Mr. Reno:
Jessica Heating problem with 2nd floor heat turning off, downstairs heat works fine.

How long do we have to fix the issue? I tried to get an emergency technician out to the house but it is technically not as big of an emergency as some other calls as other people are dealing with whole houses without heat.

We advised tenant that the technician would be out between 10 and 2 the next day and that wasn't good enough for them and they advised they were going to try and find a company and get them out to fix the issue and then would deduct the cost from the rent.

Jessica, Wantagh, NY

A: You realize it's like 8 degrees in Nassau right? You've got 24 hrs. After that if you still can't get someone in there- but they can, no judge will blame them, and they will deduct. Sorry Jess.


Published 2015-02-20

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a situation that my current wife wants to evict my son who is 21 years old (her stepson), goes to school and has a job. I don’t want him to leave. what grounds does she have if any? I pay for all the bills to maintain the household.

Roy, Palm Beach County FL

A: As a general rule, she should be able to evict him with a 30 day notice. But this is tricky. In many jurisdictions, cases like this get deferred to Family Court, even if the child is over 21. Another angle is, are you on the deed? If so, he could stay based on your authorization. Also, you're still married? Isn't this a matter for divorce court? A lot involved here, but bottom line, his days there are probably numbered. Time to start checking Craig's list.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am writing to find out if it is legal in Washoe County Nevada to designate (on one property) specific buildings that are non-smoking and have other buildings that allow smoking.
Please advise,
Thank you.

Christine, NV

A: Yes it is (legal) Christine.


Published 2015-02-19

Dear Mr. Reno:


A: This seems totally bogus, however, I'm a little leery about advising you there because so many states have enacted strict laws on returning security and the landlords are getting their butts sued off. As a general rule, security is only to cover damage to the property. Have you provided an itemized list of what you're deducting? You should and pronto.

LPA suggestion: Along with a completed Security Settlement Statement, a Security Settlement Challenge Crusher Letter may squash any unfounded tenant arguments about deductions from the security deposit refund.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have been renting out a room in my home to a friend for a reduced rate in exchange for childcare two evening a week for up to three hours when I work. Today she provided a sixty day notice of intent to leave. In addition she stated she would continue to be available for childcare during this time at a rate of $20.00 an hour. I am wondering what my rights are since she is changing our verbal agreement with no notice. Can I immediately increase her rent? Thank you,

Carrie, MN

A: She can't change the deal- but neither can you! You can charge the rent, usually on 30 days notice, but what's the point? If she doesn't agree to it, then what? She leaves- but she's leaving anyway. My only concern would be what if she doesn't leave?- I would serve her a 30 day notice to vacate- just in case. (I'm sorry if this answer was a little convoluted- so is the situation!)


Published 2015-02-18

Dear Mr. Reno:
My question is whether or not a Lease Agreement can be breached more than once. My tenants gave me a 60 day notice in Feb. informing me that they were breaking the lease and would move out in April, eight months early. In an effort to mitigate their damages I hired a realtor and put the house on the market. I tried to show the home in April to a couple that was from out of town but apparently the tenants did not get my message letting them know I was arriving. I tried showing them the texts that were sent the day before and explained that the potential renters were from out of town but they wanted nothing to do with it. The Lease states that I have to give reasonable notification to the tenant, which I tried to do. We were in the house for approximately 15 minutes even though the tenant was being disruptive. They are now countersuing me for breaching the lease stating that I breached the contract my violating their privacy rights and trespassing and inflicting emotional distress on them. Wasn’t the lease already breached in February? Can you breach the same lease twice?
Thank you for you time.

Dana, Prince William County, VA

A: Even though they already breached it, you can too, but "Let not your heart be troubled." Their lawsuit is going nowhere. I sincerely doubt they'll file it, or if they have, it's total nonsense. Even if they could show a breach- which I doubt- they could never establish any actual damages.

Dear Mr. Reno:


A: If you want to do your own evictions, transfer the house into your own names. There's no law you need an LLC.


Published 2015-02-17

Dear Mr. Reno:
I rented a home to my niece ( who is a recent law school graduate but failed her bar exam) and her brother ( who is non-related recent parolee), lease dated 11/1/14. I waived their security deposit, lowered the rent via $200 and allowed them to move in 2 weeks early and waived the proration.

  After two walk throughs and prior to move in, my niece attempted to rewrite my lease to her satisfaction. When I refused to go along with her rewrite, we had a verbal altercation Which resulted in she and her brother signing my original lease. Shortly after my niece began to find fault with the home and started knick picking excessively. I then suggested that perhaps she and her brother find alternate living arrangements in which she ignored me. I tried talking to her, emailing and texting and she still ignored me. I then resorted to amending the lease where her brother would be the point of contact so I would nit have to interact with her.

  The brother became a puppet in which she guided and advised his interaction with me. The knick picking continued and I formally asked her to move but extended occupancy to her brother. He then stated he was going to do whatever his sister did. This went on and on and they continued to ignore my request. I contacted his parole officer and explained the situation and she assisted in strongly suggesting to him that he move and encoraged me to evict if need be.

  Thusly, I did not have to evict as they gave verbal and written notice that they would move out on or before 1/31/15. They moved out, left things dirty, left trash in front of the property, did not shampoo the carpet, nor rekey the premises which was a verbal agreement prior to occupancy. I received a notice yesterday that she is suing me for $3,800 in monetary damages.

1. Since I asked her (not her brother) to move, is she still legally responsible for the duration of the lease?

  2. Will verbal agreements hold up in court?

    3. Am I able to countersue and hold she and/ her brother responsible for the lease? Can I ask for the deposit and prorated rent after the fact? (Technically her brother broke the lease as I did not ask him to move. He claims he could not stay there as he could not afford it financially but has income which showed otherwise.)

  4. She works in legal  contracts for a company and I suspect she wants to "show me" her legal skills. I have never had to retain an attorney for small claims dealing with tenants. Do you suggest I retain one?

  Please advise. Thank you!

Christie, LPA member Houston, Texas

A: Well for starters, if she sues then you counter-sue for lost rent, damages, etc. (By the way, I don't get how she's suing you at all.) But anyway, you need to keep your receipts and you'll be compensated for all your out-of-pocket costs to renovate.

As for the balance of the lease, it's a little murky. Although you are "technically" correct and the lease was not "technically" cancelled you did ask her to leave so I could see a small claims court judge saying you got what you wanted.


Published 2015-02-11

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have sold a house & need the renters to move out. By law, how long do they have to move out? Can I tell them they have 3 days to move out? That is the impression I get from reading the Arkansas Landlord Tenant Law.
Thank you.

Sandra, Arkansas

A: Three Days? What are you talking about? On what planet? They need a 30 day notice (In some states, 60 days.)

Dear Mr. Reno:
I live in Michigan and let someone stay in my house I own for a month or two. There's no written agreement at all he has payed no money in two months and changed my locks and I can not get ahold of him...he said he would be gone by jan. 31 and his property is still there..bills are piling up in my name..can I just go move his stuff?

Babykins, MI

A: Yes, if you want to wind up in the pokey. It's too late for that, Baby. He's in possession. Serve a 30 day notice, then evict. Sorry.


Published 2015-02-10

Dear Mr. Reno:
I was hoping you can clarify a paragraph in an Option to Purchase for a period of one (1) year from the date of Agreement. (Dated May 31, 2011)

Optionor shall have the right to renew this Agreement for three (3) one-year periods should he not exercise his option within one (1) year.

Optionor shall give Optionee 30 days notice in writing regarding the exercise of his option.

Question: If he does not exercise his option within that first year and no notice has ever been received, is the Option to Purchase expired?
Or does he have until May 31, 2015?

I just wasn't sure if the (3) one year periods were even effective if no notice was ever received after that first year expired.
Thank you,

Angela M. , South Carolina

A: Times up Angela.

This is worded confusingly (Is that a word?) because there are two different options at play, one to buy, one to extend the Agreement (a lease, I assume.) But the option to purchase is clearly for one year to 5/31/12. So times up.


Published 2015-02-09

Dear Mr. Reno:
I live in Rancho Cucamonga, California. I live with a married couple who signed a 7-month lease to rent two bedrooms in my condo where I also live. They paid only half the rent in January 2015, and they paid 22 days late on 1/29/15. The grace period on lease is 7 days. The lease expiration date is March 1, 2015, less than 30 days away. As of 2/5/15 they have not paid rent for February 2015.

QUESTION: Since I took the half rent, can I still send a NOTICE TO PAY FULL RENT OR QUIT? I did not give them a receipt. I called the wife on 1/30/15 and asked about the full rent but she became argumentative so I remained silent and eventually hung up the phone.

Thank you for your time. Sincerely,

Fritzi T., CA

A: Yes you can Fritzi. She paid half, which means she's in default, so pay (ALL RENT DUE) or quit!

Dear Mr. Reno:
I gave my tenants 60 days’ notice to move out but they won’t. They are paying the rent but I really need my house back. Can I raise the rent for however many months they remain in the house? Also, if I do raise the rent and refuse to pay it, what can I do? Our lease has expired.

Patricia, Texas

A: Why would you raise the rent? I thought you want them out. Make up your mind.
Also, you gave them a 60 day notice, but now you've taken more rent. I think your notice is null & void now!
Talk to a local atty.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am currently renting a house in Bellmore. My tenants are now 1000.00 late from last months rent, and have yet to pay this months rent. They have been late almost every month since August 2012.

This is the first time I have rented a property.. and I do not know what steps I need to make.

Eric had promised me payment today. 2/7/15, and needless to say the money is not in my account. And he is not returning phone calls.

Mr. E is the main person on the lease, and his grandfather co-signed.

I currently live in Buffalo, and am unable to come back to the Island at this time.

Could you please advise me on what steps need to be taken. Thank you in advance.

Paula, NY

A: Sounds like your poised to commence a nonpayment eviction. I have nothing else in my bag of tricks for you. Did you have something else in mind?

Why don't you give me a call. I'm in your area 667-RENO.

Dear Mr. Reno:
Serving 30 day notice to tenant who lied

I have a tenant who claims she is moving out because I do not provide a safe habitable environment for her to live and is demanding I release her from her lease which expires 9/30/15. She concocted a story that an ex-boyfriend came through a window in the middle of the night, sexually assaulted her and stole her car. When I pulled the police report, it stated she was drinking with her ex boyfriend, she passed out, he stole her car, but she did not want to file charges against the ex boyfriend. This is not the first time the tenant has concocted a story to try and gain concessions from me. Can I just give her a 30 day notice to leave and hold her responsible for the remaining portion of the lease?

John L., Ohio

A: John, you're just another landlord who wants to have it both ways. Make up your mind! Do you want to get rid of them? If so, you can't ask for the balance of rent. (On the other hand, if she leaves on her own, she's still on the hook.


Published 2015-02-06

Dear Mr. Reno:
I’m so happy to have this opportunity to ask you a question. I have a tenant that signed one year contract last summer, but now (because of the health problem) she would like to move back to Alaska. Please advise what I should do RE one year contract.
Thank you,

V. Brichuk

A: (Do you have a sled and snow shoes?) She has to pay the rent up to the date she leaves, and forfeit her security. (What else can you do, chase her to Alaska to collect?)

As John @theLPA says,
"Don't make her mad on the way out. Use the Move-Out Reminder letter and Move-Out Instructions letters which explain how the deposit return (and/or Security settlement statement) must be sent to the forwarding address after the rental was returned and inspected......
If a tenant ever asks me if they are getting their full security deposit back, my standard response, "As long as the property is returned as agreed according to the lease and undamaged."


Published 2015-02-03

Dear Mr. Reno:
My question is regarding my 83 year old father who got himself in trouble at his congregate facility where he resides, regarding the security guards (whom are women).

He's been there 2 years and has had about 5 occasions that he is fresh with his mouth and is a bit of a pervert. The congregate facility thinks it's best for him to leave and start fresh somewhere else.

In the past, I was told that the police was going to get involved next time this happens. We all thought it would teach him a lesson and realize that he can't continue this kind of behavior. I believed that this was the protocol that was going to be used, and it was not.

I'd like to know what right, if any, that my Dad has?


Michelle L., CT

A: He has a right to a 30 day notice. That's about it. Unless there's a lease. If he has a lease, he can stay at least until it expires.


Published 2015-02-02

Dear Mr. Reno:
My tenant gave a 30 days notice on 15th of January and our 1 year lease agreement ends on 31st of January. She told me that she will be actually out earlier than 31st of Jan. but she paid already the whole month of February. So I agreed to refund half of February plus security back to her. She already vacated the unit a week ago on the 24th and turned in the key. She found out that I got a new tenant that will start on February 1st and now she is demanding that I also return the rest of February's rent. My understanding is that once you vacates and turn over the unit she no longer has any claim on it regardless that she paid half of February to cover her 30 days notice, am I right or do I need to return half of February's rent?

Chelsey K., California

A: You may be technically correct, but if she takes you to small claims court, I think she would win. It's just like if someone breaks the lease, 4 months early, you can sue for the 4 months, but they'll only award "lost rent". As soon as you re-rent, your claim disappears.


Published 2015-01-29

Dear Mr. Reno:
I rented the 1st fl of a private house I left my 19 yr old son in the basement and his loud music and traffic enraged the tenants now they have stopped paying rent.

Tracey M., Queens, NY

A: You have failed in your primary responsibility as a landlord, that is, as we lawyers say, to provide the tenants "quiet enjoyment" of the unit, with emphasis on the "quiet" part.

But that doesn't mean they get a total free ride. You're going to have to serve default papers, and reach some accommodation or you'll be fighting it out in Court.

Dear Mr. Reno:
Quick question: I have a tenant who left in Dec and the lease ended in Jan, they agreed to forfeit the security deposit of one month’s rent, can I go after Dec’s rent? We agreed they could leave the property in Dec or can I just use the sec deposit and call it even?

Angela J.

A: That's basically an agreement by you to let them live off the Security in Dec. & vacate. That agreement will be enforced so you can't sue.

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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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