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Ask the Eviction Attorney | Landlord Tenant Law Q&A

Q&A with John Reno, Eviction Attorney

The Landlord Protection AgencyThe Landlord Protection Agency® is proud to introduce John Reno, Esq., a highly experienced Landlord - Tenant attorney based on Long Island, NY.

Mr. Reno has engaged in Landlord / Tenant practice in the District Courts of Nassau and Suffolk for the last 30 years. He prides himself on prompt legal action and direct client service.

"Over ninety percent of our practice in the Landlord Tenant courts consists of evictions of tenants, primarily for non-payment of rent. We also assist landlords in preparation and/or review of leases and consultation on other matters affecting the Landlord - Tenant relationship.

We find that Landlords who contact us have often waited too long to commence an eviction, usually in an understandable effort to resolve problems amicably. Landlords need attorneys who will not compound the problem with unnecessary delays or expenses. For this reason, our main priority is immediate action. In most cases, we commence an eviction within 3 days of being hired and have our client's cases in Court within 7 to 10 days of being hired."

If you are a landlord with a tenant problem you'd like to ask a question about, please feel free to e-mail me your question.
Please Note: Mr. Reno is an active practicing attorney with limited time and will do his best to respond to relevant questions. If using an I-phone or mobile device, please use full sentences and punctuation so we can understand you. The high volume of e-mails may require the LPA to enter your question into the LPA's Landlord Q&A Forum.

If you are a landlord with a tenant problem you'd like to ask a question about, please feel free to e-mail me your question.

Submit a landlord / tenant question for Mr. Reno
Please try to keep your questions as short and to the point as possible.

John Reno also does Mortgage Loan Modifications (Nationwide).
(Mention The LPA for a 10% discount!)

If you are a Landlord on Long Island, NY, and wish for Mr. Reno to handle your landlord - tenant case,
please provide your contact information: e-mail Mr. Reno (


Published 2014-08-28

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

John in South Carolina

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

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

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

John, California

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

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

Loren, NY

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

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

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


Published 2014-08-27

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

Karen in NC

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

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


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

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

Rene B.

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

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

Katherine L.

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


Published 2014-08-26

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

Jesus in California

A: Go for it Jesus.

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

Cindy B.

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

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

Donna B in Mississippi

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


Published 2014-08-25

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

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

Pam W., OK

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


Published 2014-08-21

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

Amy in Parkville Maryland

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

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

Kenneth D. Scott, Alabama

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you in advance.

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


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

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


Published 2014-08-14

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

Kevin W., IL

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

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

Lee, NY

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

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


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


Published 2014-08-11

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

Zoey Martinez, California

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

Termination of Tenancy notice Good luck!

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

Danny, Fresh Meadows, NY

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


Published 2014-08-07

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

John in South Carolina

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


Published 2014-08-05

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

Kristin C., CO

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

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

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

Renee in Philadelphia, Pa

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


Published 2014-08-04

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

ACJ - Kentucky

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


Published 2014-08-01

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

Judy - Pennsylvania

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


Published 2014-07-31

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


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


Published 2014-07-30

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

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

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

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

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

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

- Daniel May, Esq., NJ

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


Published 2014-07-29

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

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

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

Joan, NY

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

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

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

I await your experienced consideration.
Thank you,

Thomas, ME

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

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

Kyle H.

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

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

Mike and Susan

A: Go to the County Clerk.


Published 2014-07-26

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

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

John, NY Manager

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

So there is no debt. Sorry John


Published 2014-07-25

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

Michael Christopher - Pennsylvania

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

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

Anna R., CO & GA

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


Published 2014-07-22

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

Sarah L. in northern Alberta

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

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

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


Published 2014-07-21

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

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

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

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

Genis Z., California

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

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

Lois Bennett, VA

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


Published 2014-07-19

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


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

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

Cathy, Alabama

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


Published 2014-07-17

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

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

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

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

Nancy, NY

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

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

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

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

Stephanie, NY

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

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

Tenisha, NY

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

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


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


Published 2014-07-16

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

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

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

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

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

Sue, FL (Bay County)

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

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

Anthony, Linsley, Ct

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


Published 2014-07-14

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

KK from Texas

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

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

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

Natalie P.

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


Published 2014-07-11

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

Kaye P., LA

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


Published 2014-07-10

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

Isaac from North Carolina

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

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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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