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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 2015-01-28

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am a single mom in ohio who has been renting out a room to help us keep our home. A couple of months ago I rented to a lady who was staying with her daughter out of state. I did check references and spoke to her several times on the phone. She seemed like she would be a good fit (we never met before she moved in) . Immediately. After she arrived she changed her mail , doctors, ect . At the moment she is using a walker and receives transportation to and from anywhere within 5 miles from my home. Lately she has getting more demanding with her requests( driveway needs to be completely shoveled down to the cement for her safety , the house is drafty, ect. I do my best and the drive is kept clear but down to the cement is hRd to do. I have said that we do get a lot of snow in ohio and maybe this is not the right choice for her as far as staying with us.

I do not feel comfortable with her in our home and would like her to leave. She did not sign a lease but writes me a check each month and puts rent in the memo .

She is also trying to get food stAmps and has informed me that I have to fill out the residence verification form. I do not want to fill paper work out pertaining to this situation. Also, my daughter thought it would perk me up to have a dog( our lab passed away at the end of summer) .

This was a surprise and the lady of course does not like dogs. She makes comments about her safety , the dog, the heat ,ect, everyday. This has been a learning experience and I know my mistake . However , can I just tell her to leave.? I know this is a long email but she really needs to go and not sure how to go about this.
Thank you for your time,

Our home was built right before my husband left us. It's a solid home ( not drafty ) heat is kept on 69 degrees and we are fine. The lady has also informed me she is diabetic ( hmmm, maybe why she is always cold) Sent from my iPhone

Wendi, OH

A: You did one thing right. No lease. That's your ticket to freedom. Serve a 30 day notice to vacate. No reason given. If she asks, just say you changed your mind about renting.


Published 2015-01-26

Dear Mr. Reno:
My tenants are always two weeks late with their rent. They bounced the check in November and were late again as usual Dec. and Jan. They have a one year lease that expires on June 30, 2015. They got a dog without my permission and my home has been converted into a junkyard. Is late payment grounds for eviction in suffolk county? Its not once or twice its every month and sometimes there is no money in their bank account to cover their checks.

Kathy, NY

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

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a tenant that lives on the 2nd floor apartment of my house - I live on the first floor and own the house. The tenant has lived here 3 months and we just renewed the lease for another 3 months. He always pays the rent on time, however only 5 days after the lease was renewed his drinking has started to get out of hand. Twice he left the front door (main door to the house on the first floor) not only unlocked, but wide open in the middle of the night! I live on a busy street where robberies are frequent and my bikes were in the hallway for anyone passing by to see. He also came home the other night pounding on the floor (my ceiling) waking me up at 5am, sounding like he was in a drunken rage. He also has a girlfriend over all the time where they smoke pot and I can smell it downstairs. Now Iím afraid to leave for Christmas (visiting my family out of state) for 10 days b/c Iím worried the house could be left unlocked and robbed. Or worse, I could be sleeping and someone could break in and hurt or even kill me (New Orleans has one of the highest murder rates in the country). Heís paid the rent for this month but can I give him written notice to leave by the end of the month for illegal drugs and endangering my well being for leaving the front door wide open in the middle of the night on two separate occasions? Should I call the police if he comes home again drunk late at night sounding like heís tearing the place apart? Will a record of calling police help my case?

Jackie - New Orleans, LA

A: I give you credit for one thing- you only only gave him 3 months. Give him notice you won't be renewing after the 3rd month. You can't break the lease- not based on this. Sorry. But this will give him incentive to clean up his act. You never know. Maybe he'll convince you to keep him.

Dear Mr. Reno:
Hi. I own one rental property in Longmont, and I intend to sell it this spring. It's been a pretty good run---for the most part.
I returned my former tenant's deposit (adjusted) via certified mail in May, 2014 to the address he gave me. He never picked it up and it wa returned to me.
Do you know how long I have to hold on to the check? If he contacts me asking for it, is there a time limit when I no longer owe it to him?
Thank you in advance for you help.


A: Well the check is only good for six months so you can destroy it after that.

But you still owe it. (What is statute of limitations in your state? In mine (NY) it's 6 yrs.)

Dear Mr. Reno:
Have a roommate that I gave a 30 day move out notice too and he's not moving out so I went down to court and filed for an eviction . but he's never home so I can have somebody serve it to him? What do I do if they can't find him to give the court papers to for proof that he recived the court papers?

Paul, San Diego, CA

A: Each Court has its own procedure. In my neighborhood, three attempts, tape to door, cert mail & regular mail. I don't know what San Diego requires, but I know one thing: You don't need to hand it to him; there's always another way.


Published 2015-01-23

Dear Mr. Reno:
My wife and I own a rental home in Southern California and have our latest tenants on a 1-year lease. The couple and their son were great in person and on paper, but not long after occupying the home, the son (a high school student) started getting into trouble, to the point that the police have been called several times to the home and the son was recently arrested. We have received numerous complaints from neighbors about noise, possible drug dealing, and other issues involving the tenants.

We have no intention of renewing the lease (which is set to expire on June 30, just over 5 months from now) and are obligated to only give them 30-days notice to this effect. We would like them to leave sooner (preferably a month before the lease expiration date) but fear that giving them notice (with an offer to vacate one month early without penalty) much sooner than 30 days may cause the next 5 months of our lives to be even more tumultuous.

What would you advise us to do in this situation? Your assistance is very much appreciated.

Stan, CA

A: I wouldn't tell them now- they might leave now. Better, wait until 60 days before your "dream move out date." Then drop the bombshell.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have two units of tenants who has been not paying the rent for more than five months. This is because the court system from our county, the San Bernardino merged to Fontana County in California since these year, our attorney has already send the file to the court of San Bernardino four months ago. The merging process stopped every thing. We have to wait the new court decision. It looks like forever waiting. So far those tenants just say they don't have money but they don't want to move away. They know we have no way to let them go without any court decision by law. We really don't know what to do. I will appreciate if you could gave me some suggestion. Thank you.

Ron, CA

A: If you had asked me 4 months ago (& if we had Crystal Ball) it would have made sense to give them two or three thousand dollars each to leave. (It's been done.) But now it's too late. You've already waited 4 mos. might as well let it play out.

Dear Mr. Reno:
My tenant owed 3 months rent . He promised to pay in full by the 15th the prevent turn over to attorney. On the 15th , he dropped 2 months rent in the night depository. Can I deposit the 2 month and still since to the attorney for the balance

Linda S.

A: As Obama says: YES WE CAN!


Published 2015-01-22

Dear Mr. Reno:
Me and my wife are managing a property legally owned by my father. My wife has handled all of the leases, and has been the one to sign all of them (My father lives out of state.) We have tried to evict a tenant a couple of months ago and were told that the eviction would have to be done by my father because he is the only one on the deed. My question is, even if my father handles the eviction and shows up to court, are the leases legally binding if they are signed by my wife and not my father? We have not setup any sort of management company or business. How do we need to go about evicting these tenants?

Private LPA Member, AZ

A: Well you three have made this about as complicated as possible. My solution to situations like this is list everyone. Dad as owner, you as property manager, or agent- Make everyone a plaintiff, petitioner, landlord or whatever it's called in AZ. Don't worry about the forgery, as long as Dad authorized it.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am POA for my Mother. Over everything. She entered a nursing home 2 1/2 years ago. My brother asked to live in her home last April. He signed a lease and He paid 300.00 once. I discovered he is truly broke. He stated I can pay the homeowners insurance and the taxes yearly but I cant afford 500.00 a month in rent. He paid 2 months worth of homeowners insurance and hasn't paid anything ever again. So now there is no insurance on the home and the taxes are overdue. How do I get him out!
Thank you,

Lisa M., NC

A: With a POA, you can serve a 30day notice to Vacate, or a "Pay or Quit" or whatever they do in NC. But when it comes to court, it gets dicey. Some courts let you evict by POA, some don't. (May need to wheel mom in there.)


Published 2015-01-21

Dear Mr. Reno:
NY law states that a multiple dwelling unit 3 and over must install window guards if there are children in the home. Do you know if the state of Florida also has this same rule? I cannot find out this information anywhere. Any help you can give me will be appreciated. Have a great day ..

Janet, NY

A: So, no, but why don't you call the Town or County Building Department? They'll tell you. (I know we're all addicted to our keyboards- but occasionally a phone call can work wonders.)

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am a landlord who is renting a room which was on a six month lease. My tenant gave me 30 days notice on 1-13-15. He has already paid his rent through to the end of January. Can he move out ? I thought that the notice would start after his paid month was up, not give 30 days in the middle of the month

Alletta, Laurel, Maryland

A: You are "technically" correct, but what's the beef, Alletta? If he's still there on 2/1/15, doesn't he then owe February's rent? You could be a sport and prorate it, but you don't have to.

Dear Mr. Reno:
My friend had house guests.They were allowed to stay in his home if they purchased their own food. He decided it was time for them to leave his house. He told them to leave but they refused to leave and accused him of domestic violence.
He was removed from his own home with a restraining order against returning.

What are the options to get the house guests removed from his home. They were not renters and did not have any agreement. He is not allowed any contact with them or even allowed to get his own mail.
Thank you.

Wesley, Arizona

A: He should rent the movie, "Pacific Heights." It's his life story.

He can still evict them - he just needs a good local lawyer to properly serve a Notice to Vacate.


Published 2015-01-20

Dear Mr. Reno:
Husband and wife tenants signed 24 month lease, started 12/15/14 w/early occupancy 12/8. Charged no rent for month of December as incentive. Wife died suddenly, husband is disabled and must move out to be cared for. I told daughter (out of state) I would give them month of February to move out. Also told her I would let them out of lease but they would forfeit their deposit.
What is Georgia law on return of deposit in this situation?
Thank you,

Kevin B. (LPA member), GA

A: I'm a little leery about advice on the security deposits out of my state, b/c many states are enacting very strict laws about deposits and you may not have the right to keep it for rent (it is supposed to be for damage to the dwelling). My advice: Get her to sign off on that she either forfeits it or applies it to rent. Then you're OK.

See Security Deposits in


Published 2015-01-17

Dear Mr. Reno:
I do not allow pets of any kind. Have a tenant who just moved her boy-friend in and he has a dog that is at least part of the time in the back seat of the his car. Her lease expires in March and I have given them an application to add him to the lease but I think in the middle of the night they sneak that dog into the house. Help!!

Ann E., Washington State

A: That comedian has this bit where he says "you can't fix stupid". This poor girl is going to not get her lease renewed b/c of her stupid boyfriend. You should notify her now that her lease will not be renewed in March and the reason why. Maybe she'll change her behavior, but I doubt it. You can't fix stupid.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I rented an illegal apartment in Suffolk county ny on dec1 2014..Jan 1 2015 my tenant decided not pay rent.. on the3 rd i sent him a text and called him no is the11 now and he is not been in the apt..left on the 3rd and never seen him again...doesn't answer my calls or text...i text him I want him out by the end of the month...what do you suggest me to do...he hasn't been living here..but he has his stuff i think...i can't even check becuz would be transpassing?what can i do.....i have this month security...but i just want this Man out.

Crissy, NY

A: You have 2 options. One is expensive and slow. The other one is fast and cheap- but also illegal & you may be sued. It's a dilemma. Give me a call- I'm in your area (631) 667-RENO.

Dear Mr. Reno:
My grandmother signed a paper that i would give her a lifetime lease. It was never notarized or anything and now i want her off my property. Can i legally kick her off?

Crystal, Maine

A: Bad News Crystal. A lease doesn't get notarized, nowhere in NY anyway, nowhere else that I know of.) Why would you sign a lifetime lease? And now, what changed your mind? You went from caring for her for life, to rolling her wheelchair into the street. What's up with that?


Published 2015-01-15

Dear Mr. Reno:
My upstairs tenant asked downstairs tenant for some pot (yes the illegal kind you smoke). of course she said "no", and reported this to mel Downstairs tenant also Says upstairs tenant lady has fallen down with what downstairs tenant says might be drug overdose or too much liquor consumption or both.

What can I do as landlord (in same building) without putting downstairs tenant in danger, and without any proof whatsoever of any illegal activity? PLEASE advise!

NH landlord

A: It's nice that you have your own NARC, but you don't have to worry about proof- b/c you couldn't evict these people based on this even if you could prove it. You got a lease? Planning on breaking it? Think again. This is no grounds.

On the other hand, if there's no lease, serve your 30 day notice. You don't need a reason or to get downstairs involved.

Dear Mr. Reno:
My husband and I own our home and are living separately in it I allowed his father to live with us for a short while when we were a couple now I asked that he leave since things are very volatile here and he called the police on me and the police said I can't throw him out . He's 85 yrs old and has a daughter he can live with but they are both hustling me. My husband was forcing me to pay for his fathers house expenses. I'm filing for divorce this week but in the meantime is there something I can do to get him out during this horrible time . He also falls a lot and is left alone all day and I'm afraid if he hurts himself while I'm home and my husband try's to blame me for it as my husband called the police to start some trouble for me already . Please advise

Sally, Massapequa, NY

A: You can start with a 30 day notice and than evict as holdover (try it) but I doubt you'll get very far. There will be lawyers and motions and they'll try to put the KABOSH on it and refer it to the divorce court.


Published 2015-01-14

Dear Mr. Reno:
We have two couples in our home, each with a different agreement, and have learned they are ďprofessional renters.Ē We served each couple with 3-Day Notices to Quit with the assistance of sheriffs. Officer had us hand one of the men with all the notices and told us to put on our paperwork that we served the head of household. In front of the officer, this man walked to the other man and handed him his copy. We mailed copies to the address for everyone, including John and Jane Doe, but mail is not delivered thereóitís being held at the post office. Is this effective service? If not, how do we effectively serve them if they ALWAYS make sure theyíre never together when a server comes by? Thank you!

Sherri from El Dorado County, California

A: I think you're okay. If you gave one person all the copies, as long as you mailed the notices to the people you didn't serve personally, although certified mail would have been preferable.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I want to evict my 37 year old divorced son from my home after 4 years. I also wish him to have a place where he can visit his children if he should be homeless.
Would allowing him on the premises void the eviction notice? If he refused to leave after visiting with his children, would the eviction order be void? What should I do if he refused to leave?

Craig, California

A: You're asking for trouble. If you have to actually evict him, then he's not welcome back until he can show his I.D. with a new address. If he's still got I.D. with your address, you'll have a hard time with the police if he wont leave.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I rented a home to tenants and the lease ended in August. I sent out an itemized list of damages in 42 days with the date on the letter. 42 days is not within the time frame of 30 days. Is there any way that I can still collect the money? Can I take them to court, or start the collection process if they refuse to pay?

Private Landlord in MI

A: You can try small claims court, but if the tenants know that law, you may have problems.

Dear Mr. Reno:
We own a rental home and have rented to a couple for one year,. The lease has just expired. The night before the new lease was to be signed, the couple told us they both lost their jobs - they both worked for the same company and it went under. This is true. She is 4 months pregnant. They say they will try to give us what they can until the husband finds a new job. She is getting unemployment compensation and he supposedly just got called to work after waiting 5 years to get into the iron workers union. They have given us partial rent (less than 50%) for two months but are getting further and further behind. We never had problems with the rent till now. Being winter, he is not getting steady work yet. Should we wait for them to figure out employment or start eviction?

Debbie Hinz from Illinois

A: That's your call Deb. I think you've been patient enough- but it's a tough situation.


Published 2015-01-13

Dear Mr. Reno:
My tenant has not paid rent for Dec 2014 & this month (Jan 2015) and had destroyed my house by punched holes in the livingroom walls and old junky car parts all over the yard & garage.

I delivered a 3 day notice on Dec 15, 2014 and finally got a court date on Jan 5th 2015, unfortunately it was dismissed due to improper notice or vacate.

The judge won't advice me what is the proper notice or vacate. Could you tell me what that is? so that I can go back to the court and re-file again. Meanwhile my tenants are getting away with the free rent and having quite a few friends living there at the same time.

Please advise! Thank you for your help!

Teresa S.

A: Serving the Notice to Vacate is very technical. To do it right, you really should hire a local attorney. For example, in some places you can't serve in on Sunday. The average person wouldn't know that. (Don't forget- you already wasted enough of your time and money doing it yourself!)

Dear Mr. Reno:
My spouse rented property in Sussex County Delaware to a residential construction company owner in 2009. He paid his rent mostly on time for these past five years.
He had some credit problems initially when we vetted him but we took the chance and it seemed to work out well. He has a family and his business was an LLC. A lease agreement was made by our chosen attorney back then and he and his wife signed it.

He asked if we were interested in selling the property and we sent him a time sensitive offer letter that expired in 60 days in 2014. He claimed at the time that his credit had improved to the point where he could purchase the property. The date of August 1, 2014 for settlement came and went. (This was the day he said we would settle on the property.)

The offer letter we sent to him expired and he called and offered a lower price. We discussed it with him and then among ourselves and we felt that we could go lower if he he would pay us the rent he owed us. (No offer letter was sent.) He hasn't paid us rent since July 2014. He didn't pay the rent when he said he would.) (January first 2015) He has since sent an e-mail with a rediculously low counter offer of which we did not respond or acknowledge. We now think that he's trying to "hustle" us.

In the meantime, I sent him a "pay rent or quit the premises" letter in mid December to be paid by December 31, 2014.

My wife and I are elderly and survive on Social Security and income from this rental property. My wife has an acute illness and was hospitalized in intensive care twice last year. Her prospects are not that good for any kind of longevity. Needless to say, her care has been my top priority.

My wife is the deeded owner of the property. I have obtained a "Quitclaim deed form" and plan on filing it with the deed recorder.
I will be going to the JOP next week to file for eviction after filing the new deed. I was planning on filing the new deed then.
The tenant (contractor) has sent an e-mail claiming he has put 81,000 dollars into the property and is planning a lawsuit and/or a mechanics lien. No contract was ever signed by me or my spouse for any kind of remodeling and it specifically says in the lease that permission must be obtained prior to doing anything of this nature. I inspected the property this December and there was some remodeling done. My brother (who is a retired remodel contractor says he thinks this 81,000 dollar figure is way out of line and suggests that he thinks he may have spent five or six thousand tops(if that). Much of the materials and labor are nominal to a contractor, and are acquired from other rehabbed jobs, where as customer pays full retail. Many contractors do this to keep their work schedule evened out in between jobs. He(my brother)did the same to his own home.

My question is; do you think adding my name to the deed is a prudent decision? I thought it would make it easier to file for eviction and going to court as my wife is physically disabeled and immobile because of her health.

Jerel, DE

A: That's going to complicate things a bit, but if you insist on going to Court instead of your wife, she'll need to assign all of her rights to the lease to you. There's a form called Assignment and Assumption of lease that you'll both need to sign. Good Luck.


Published 2015-01-11

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a tenant who hasn't paid rent in three years! What can I do to evict him?
Thank you

Ryan C., Oregon

A: Go to landlord tenant court. Go directly to court. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. What are you waiting for?

Dear Mr. Reno:
I currently live in my deceased grandmothers home where my uncle holds the deed and i pay the mortgage until i can get my credit up enough to take over. I allowed a friend of mine to move in with her 2 kids bc they were in a bad situation. Her boyfriend got out of jail in october and moved in as well since then things have gotten awkward. She has been giving me 300 a month in cash with no written agreement or lease. I told her i wanted him out but things have gotten awkward since hes been there and he doesnt work or help out with house. Also i am pregnant and its just not a good situation for me to feel uneasy in my own home. He is claiming he has squatters rights b/c hes been here over 60 days and doesnt have to go anywhere. Is this true? He pays nothing. She does but nothing that is notable and there is no lease agreement. He does nothing to contribute to the house either. What do i need to do? Thanks in advance

Kristin, KY

A: He's her guest. As long as she's renting you can't bounce him.
Solution: You'll just have to bounce the whole cabal. They're a package deal. Both get 30 day notice, then evict as holdover.

Dear Mr. Reno:
My renter owe me 2 months rent and the deposit. I served them a pay or quit notice. The NEXT day they up and left for TN for a week! I called, text & fb them. They NEVER responded. I had a spare key and went into the house to find it trashed! Dog poop all over the garage. Trash (pop can, wrappers, dirty clothes) all over the floor! I left them a note stating in their contract there was to be ONLY 1 dog (they had 2) and that the way the let the dogs poop everywhere was unacceptable. They came back home tonight and started getting mad that I had gone into the house without their permission and I had no right to go into the houseÖ Can I not go into a house I own after trying for 5 days to get ahold of them????

Stacey and I live in Indiana

A: Start packing Stacey. You're going to prison.

No, just kidding. But you have to "tread lightly" there. The problem isn't trespassing. The problem is all that cash that they may say you stole, which was never really there, but Tenants often tell tall tales.

Dear Mr. Reno:
A married couple was renting a room from me, the wife would argue with her husband almost every day from the time they woke up till late in the evening, she disturbed everyone else. I asked them to move out several times and finally one day they decided to call an agency who finds rooms/studios the same day. They packed all their stuff in my caravan and I was to drop their stuff off when they called with the new address. The same day they left to get the new place, I got the room that they were in RENTED. The wife is now calling and saying i threw her things out and she has no place to go, that shes going to come to my home with the cops. 1. The wife and the husband agreed to leave. 2. The agency they went to to get a room or studio told them they must pay $150 for them to find them a room, but if they don't find a room within 30 days they have to pay another 150.00, so they never paid the first 150.00 and now the wife is saying we threw her stuff out. 3. Their things are in my vehicle to be dropped off at their new place which they packed it themselves.

How should I move forward with this?


A: I can't see anything you did wrong, Madinec. They left voluntarily. They packed their own stuff in your car. Now they've changed their minds. Oh well, I say, too bad. Maybe they'll sue, but then anyone can sue anyone for anything. That doesn't make them right.


Published 2015-01-09

Dear Mr. Reno:
I own a 2 family home in Brooklyn New York and one of my tenants currently has un-authorized people residing in my property in addition to being extremely disruptive, loud and disrespectful to the tenant who resides in the basement apartment, I would like to begin eviction proceedings immediately please tell me how I should go about evicting this month to month tenant relationship.

Lexus G., Brooklyn, New York

A: 30 day Notice. Notify the tenant prior to 1/28/15 to vacate by 2/28/15.

Dear Mr. Reno:
An elderly tenant has cancer and wants his son to live with him to help him with his dog, cleaning, shopping, etc. His son is in his 50ís and has been in trouble with the law many times (battery, drugs that I know of) and is currently on parole. He moved in with his father unbeknownst to me and gave the parole officer his fatherís address. I found out by an email alert when a LE officer escorted his parole officer to my rental propertyís address. I donít want his son living there as a tenant, but would allow him to live there if he complied with all his parole conditions, (but donítí want his druggie girlfriend on my property at all) and only for the sole purpose to be his fatherís live-in caregiver, while his dad is our tenant. Is there an agreement that you can recommend I use in this case or an addendum or what I should do to try to help his father, but protect myself? His fatherís lease is up for renewal this March. His father is a good tenant, been with us about 5 years now, always pays on time and doesnít cause any trouble, and takes care of the property Ė it always appears to be clean and orderly whenever Iíve been there.
Please advise,

Rose, freezing in WI

A: You've got an issue, Don't renew. If you do, you'll be writing me in 3 months and I'll be asking you why in the world did you give him a lease? Then you'll be stuck.

Go month to month. Lay down your conditions for him to stay. As long as they behave, they stay.

Dear Mr. Reno:
My father-in-law remarried and his second wife died about 3 years ago. About 11 years prior to her death she and my father-in-law had their home and land conveyed to "her" daughter and son-in-law and took a life estate for herself and my father-in-law. My wife and I have been living in this house for 2.5 years taking care of my father-in-lawís interests as well as his legal matters and he has been in assisted living and most recently in a nursing home due to advanced cancer MCL. My wife is his POA and healthcare POA. My question, upon his death, how long do we have til we must vacate the home?
P.S. the remaindermen are a local county detective (she) and magistrate (he) which further complicates this issue.

Joe W.,

A: 4-6 months.

Dear Mr. Reno:
Hello, I have a various problems with my tenant. I cannot pay the utilities because he doesn't pay rent so I don't have any money. He is about to be evicted but would that leave the late fees and everything to me? Also he is destroying the house from the inside and he has like six pit bulls so there is no safe way to evaluate the damages so it can't be done till after he leaves. But if that happens where am I to send him any court papers?
I know this is a long email but if you could please respond to my problem it would be a big help, thank you.

Fernando in San Bernardino CA.

A: You're just going to have to keep an eye on him. It's hard to sue him if you don't know where he is. Anyway, get him out first. That's your priority.


Published 2015-01-08

Dear Mr. Reno:
I've been a landlord for 22 years but never had this situation:
Ten months into a 12 month lease, one of my tenants and her male roommate had a severe falling out. She called me on Jan 4th and informed me verbally and by email (see below) of her intention to voluntarily vacate the home and end the lease on January 18th as she had personally paid the last 2 month's rent herself but could no longer afford it. Also, she claims to be unable to get her roommate to pay his share of the rent. But I also understand that this is her side of the story. I have not spoke with the other tenant, as his cell phone has been disconnected. All year, we've had an ongoing pleasant, friendly relationship so I don't doubt her word. So I agreed to let her break her lease, while waiving early termination fees but me keeping the security deposit for lost rent.

So my question is: Since she gave me both written & verbal notice of her intent to cancel the lease on the 18th, isn't her decision to "SELF EVICT" binding on both of them, even if he claims not to know about it? The lease says that each tenant is to act as an agent for the others! But what if the other tenant demands to stay, saying that he had no knowledge of her intentions? What if HIS stuff is still there after the 18th? If a tenant chooses a move-out date but doesn't take all their stuff on that date, must I store it myself? Any advice would be is her written wording to me.

Hello John -
In reference to our phone conversation of Jan 4th. My lease at 154 xxxxxx Street will be terminated on January 18, 2014. Thank you again for everything. Tina


John S., PA

A: You left out one important factor: Did he leave? You didn't say. You said they had a falling out, but if he hasn't moved out, you still need to evict him.

Look at it this way: he's still sitting there; you call a cop. You think they'll boot him out based on her e-mail? I would be very surprised.

The other scenario, he's already left- just his stuff still there. Now you're in another grey area. Some say, if he's out 30 days, he's abandoned the premises. I'll go with that. Put his junk in storage another 30 days just to be safe.

(This was a tough one!)

Dear Mr. Reno:
My husband & I own a home in California which we rented out 3 Ĺ years ago. The tenants were on a yearly lease which expires in July. At the beginning of Dec last year (2014) they gave us a 30 day notice that they were moving out. They left on 1/2/15 but have not notified the utility companies to turn off the power, water or gas which are in their name and they have been paying for. We have new renters moving in on 1/29/15. Are we required to tell the tenants who left to turn off/cancel the utilities? Since they technically owe us rent until the new tenants move in do we let them keep paying for the utilities and have the new renters switch them into their name when they move in?

Lisa, CA

A: Sounds like a plan. As long as the liens don't attach to the property. In my area, the water is a lien- so you want that in the new tenant's names. But lights and oil are just debts of the tenants- so let it stay in their name? Fine with me.

Dear Mr. Reno:
My building is not prepared for disabled people. Would I run into discrimination by not accepting them as tenants?
If I accept them, am I obligated to make the building disable friendly?
Thank you,


A: Only if it's a "multiple dwelling."

See John's article, 3 Legal Ways to Reject a Tenant Applicant.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am a landlord in Texas I won a default judgement in an eviction against a couple listed in the eviction the husband filed pro se appealing the eviction but not the wife and the body of the appeal only lists him appealing court costs and charges of the jp court. I filed for a writ of possession to evict wife and her possessions since she did not appeal and she is now in breach of rental contract for nonpayment of rent , being late and not paying security deposit and late fees she agreed upon. What can I do?

Arturo, TX

A: The eviction should go forward. Unless Hubby got what the courts call a "STAY." Did he?


Published 2015-01-07

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am a home (condo owner - HOA) with a binding lease to my tenants.
they moved into my home in june 2014...
they have been nothing but an issue.
police have been there nearly 20 times since they moved in... my neighbors are afraid of them I filed for eviction due to them breaking the lease and having no quiet peace of enjoyment in the house (I didn't file for non payment (although they owe me over 15K) because I just wanted them out!)

I had a court date and her attorney asked me to adjourn and they would settle out of court... little did I know (I am a first time land lord) that this was just a stall tactic... we have a new court date of feb 11th but it can't wait that long

the police were there again this week taking people out (people I don't even know!) in handcuffs... my HOA has gotten a million emails, calls, texts etc about my tenants and have been nearly harassing me.

I feel like my hands are tied and all the laws cover my tenant and not me...
is there some way to get an emergency court date to evict or what do I have to do?
I want my money and I want them out!

Susan, NY

A: I disagree with your strategy- you should have done the nonpayment. You think these dirtbags would pay 15 grand? Anyway, I don't think your quiet enjoyment will work. That's where the tenant sues the landlord! For not having peace & quiet. LL can't sue the tenant for that- I don't think so. Now we're in a big mess.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am a fellow Long Island native (Hewlett, NY). I have an issue I am desperately in need of help with. My girlfriendís father signed as a guarantor on a lease for her friend for an NYC apartment. Now this person (the tenant), who seems to be letting life go (is on drugs, neglecting all his responsibilities, etc.) does not have a steady job and has been late on several monthís rent already. My GFís dad has received two legal letters already and with January here now, will receive another one shortly.

December and January rent will now be owed but my GFís father definitely wants off as a guarantor; however, we donít know how to accomplish this through any method (legal or not). The language on the lease states the following:

"The undersigned Guarantor guarantees to Owner the strict performance of and observance by Tenant of all the agreements, provisions and rules in the attached Lease. Guarantor agrees to waive all notices when Tenant is not paying rent or not observing and complying with all the provisions of the attached Lease. Guarantor agrees to be equally liable with Tenant so that Owner may sue Guarantor directly without first suing Tenant. The Guarantor further agrees that his guaranty shall remain in full effect even if the Lease is renewed, changed, or extended in any way and even if Owner has to make a claim against Guarantor. Owner and Guarantor agree to waive trial by jury in any action, proceeding or counterclaim brought against the other on any matters concerning the attached Lease or the Guaranty."

The landlord also wants the tenant out and is sympathizing with my girlfriend and her father; however, at the end of the day the rent will still need to be owed and this is a huge financial burden for my GF and her father.

Is there any way to remove my GF's father as a Guarantor? Is arbitration between the Guarantor and Tenant the only step at this point? I have heard eviction can take up to 6 months and that would mean tens of thousands of dollars in rent that would be owed (+ legal fees) should the tenant not pay anything.

I understand this is a long question and I would be more than happy to accommodate you for your time on this matter. I appreciate your site and what you do for the community very much.
Thank you,

Joshua, NY

A: He's screwed. Why would any lawyer even bother drafting and typing up a guarantee if the guarantor could just "remove" himself "as guarantor." What would be the point? Poor landlord rented to this drug addict because girlfriend's father said "don't worry, if he defaults, I'll make good."
So there.

Dear Mr. Reno:
My name is Cyndi and I live in North Carolina (Rockingham County). I live with my 5 year old daughter and her father which we are not married. He owns he house and we have had a domestic dispute 2 days ago. He is a heavy drinker and drinks daily. We have been engaged for 5 years and I have been a homemaker since that time. Taking care of our daughter day and night and paying the bills, cleaning, cooking, shopping for the house hold. All while he works and after work drinks and sometimes leaves for a day or two at a time and is also sleeping with other women. The other day we had to lock ourselves in the my daughters bedroom to insure our safer from him because he can also be and has been abusive. the next day he didn't remember anything and but I called social services to find out what my options were. they came out here to check on my child which is scared of her father and he left the house saying he will evict me. today I received eviction papers from the sheriff stating I have to goto court to be evicted. Can he do this? and if so what are my rights since I am the main caregiver of our daughter and don't have money to move?
Thank you

Cynthia, NC

A: You're in a grey area, somewhere between eviction court and family court. Get a lawyer. You need the eviction court to defer to Family court. I think there's a court decision I won somewhere on this website that talks about this.


Published 2015-01-03

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a six bedroom rental near a college. I have always leased to five students, but allowed them to have a sixth roommate not on the lease. Now the person not on the lease has moved without notice, the remaining tenants do not want to pay the full rent.

Question: Does my allowing them to have the sixth roommate put me in jeopardy of being fined by the municipality or not being able to enforce the lease? Should I just negotiate a lesser lease to avoid being reported or having to go to court?

Roy S., NJ

A: The lease stands. The five are still on the hook for the whole rent. There was no written agreement to modify.

As for the municipality, why worry? If it was legal before, it's legal now. (By the way, was it a legal rental before the sixth man?)


Published 2014-12-30

Dear Mr. Reno:
A married couple was renting a room from me, the wife would argue with her husband almost every day from the time they woke up till late in the evening, she disturbed everyone else. I asked them to move out several times and finally one day they decided to call an agency who finds rooms/studios the same day. They packed all their stuff in my caravan and I was to drop their stuff off when they called with the new address. The same day they left to get the new place, I got the room that they were in RENTED. The wife is now calling and saying i threw her things out and she has no place to go, that shes going to come to my home with the cops.

1. The wife and the husband agreed to leave.
2. The agency they went to to get a room or studio told them they must pay $150 for them to find them a room, but if they don't find a room within 30 days they have to pay another 150.00, so they never paid the first 150.00 and now the wife is saying we threw her stuff out.
3. Their things are in my vehicle to be dropped off at their new place which they packed it themselves.

How should I move forward with this?

A: I can't see anything you did wrong, Madinec. They left voluntarily. They packed their own stuff in your car. Now they've changed their minds. Oh well, I say, too bad. Maybe they'll sue, but then anyone can sue anyone for anything. That doesn't make them right.


Published 2014-12-22

Dear Mr. Reno:
I had a tenant she moved out Nov.30th. The 1st of is due, so she payed 300.00 and said she would have the rest later and that she was giving her 30 day notice to move out. The lease was up she was just going month by month. Now she left the place without doing any cleaning or replacing anything that she wrecked and she knows that her deposit is gone.
Now as for the balance of the rent and late fees, what do i do? She did sign a LPA lease originally.
She is a single woman no hubby,what is my next move? Thank you


A: She's gone. Out of sight- out of mind. If you feel it is worth pursuing, Small claims court?

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a property rented on lease in Aurora, IL. The tenant broke the lease after 4 months and left the property like trash. They had a pit bull, that distorted the doors, windows as well as ruined complete carpet. She hasn't paid her water dues (which are tied to property).
I have sent her in mail (thru certified mail) the list of damages, and cost to repair, but she is not picking up my phone calls nor responding to my text/voice messages. The property damages are of about $3000 and the lease breakage penalties i am assessing 2 months rent (3100).
She didn't pay her last month rent, so the 1 month security deposit i held is adjusted towards her last month rent.
Now, Is there a way we can take legal action on her to recover the money. If so, how much we can recover and how much it would cost.
Thanks for your help and advise.

Siva, IL

A: Yes, it's called a law suit. You can't "recover the money" until you have a judgment.
You're out of eviction court. Now, you'd be in civil court to sue for damages and lost rent. Maybe small claims?


Published 2014-12-20

Dear Mr. Reno:
On 10/20/14 my cell rang and it was a property mgr company asking me about my present tenant..To my surprise she was moving out.. I text her immediately text me back " I'm very sorry you found out that way, I do not have anything concrete, i am looking for something bigger and put in applications I will discuss details if anything works out ..

On 10/21/2014 She called me at 4:30 pm and told me moving out on 11/2/14.. I told her you have to pay november rent bc u didn't give me a 30 notice.. she said no bc i moving out i said See you in courts! Then called back and said 10/21/14 will be starting my 30 day notice until 11/21/14.. I ask her to please email me this information i will accept it Nothing!! What are my right please i have been a great landlady to this woman i feel like i was robbed.

H B Zeller, Ca

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

Dear Mr. Reno:
My younger son leases an apartment in West Seneca NY. His older brother moved in and pays for nothing. This was supposed to be for a short time but has turned into almost a year. Nothing in writing between them. Younger son wants him out so he can have his family there. Older son refuses to move and landlord wonít get in the middle.
Can he evict him through the courts? West Seneca police refuse to help. (heís called them twice already)
Thank you in advance!!

Dee Dee, NY

A: Yes, he can evict him through the courts. He has to serve a 30 day notice to vacate first.
So much for "brotherly love"!

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

Julita B, NY

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

Dear Mr. Reno:
I purchased a property through a Condo Association Foreclosure. The previous owner would not answer the door, or my letters. I filed an eviction suit against the previous owner. No one showed up in court and I was granted a judgement. I have not yet filed the Writ of Possession. I found out today that there were gun shots at my condo over the weekend, the police came and found several people are living in the unit and an arrest was made. If I file the Writ of Possession, will all of the occupants be forced to leave? I don't even know their names because there are more people living there than just the owner (my suit was filed against the owner). How do I get them out?
Thank you!

Francois, TX

A: You may have a problem there. You may have to refile against John & Jane Doe (probably should have done so to start) but file your writ and see how far you get. (By the way, what are you waiting for?)

Dear Mr. Reno:
My lease states that if rent is not paid by 5th of the month, lessee shall pay $50 plus $10 per day until rent is in possession of the Lessor. It is one year lease, which ended on 6/30/2014. Tenant moved out and returned keys on July 4th. Tenant paid $850 on June 13, paid $625 on 8/4, and still owe $285 for last month rent. (rent $1760/month)
Q1: How much late fee should I charge? Should it be $50+$10/day*59days? (June 5 to Aug 3) Q2: For the days that tenants over stayed in July, contract states $100/day for hold over. I verbally told them I will charge for the days they over stay. How much should I charge? Should I charge $110*4, or $1760/31*4?
Q3: Lease states ďUpon termination of the lease and full performance of all Lessee's obligations hereunder, so much of the Security Deposit as remains unapplied shall be returned to Lessee. ď Since tenants did not pay last month rent in full and did not perform, according to contract, should I keep the security deposit? There is no specific local law on security deposit for this property. Thanks!

Shelly, Illinois

A: You can deduct what's due from security, but your late charges are way to high. You can grab it ,but if it goes to court- they'll reduce it. Anymore than 10% is considered grand larceny. Some judges won't let you go over 5%.


Published 2014-12-12

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a tenant with no lease agreement,The oral agreement was he fixes the house to be livable for free rent well its been 3 years and he probably done about a months worth of work so how can i get him out?


A: These arrangements never work out.
He gets a 30 day notice. Then eviction court.

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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.

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