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Ask the Eviction Attorney | Landlord Tenant Law Q&A

Q&A with John Reno, Eviction Attorney

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Published 2015-03-03

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

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

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

Claire, RI

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

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

Lila, CA

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


Published 2015-03-02

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

Jennifer Gray

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


Published 2015-02-26

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

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


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


Published 2015-02-24

Dear Mr. Reno:

Kelly, NC

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

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

Sandra, NV

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


Published 2015-02-23

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

Maryann, TX

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

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

JaCouisa, FL

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


Published 2015-02-21

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

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

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

Jessica, Wantagh, NY

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


Published 2015-02-20

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

Roy, Palm Beach County FL

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

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

Christine, NV

A: Yes it is (legal) Christine.


Published 2015-02-19

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

Carrie, MN

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

Dear Mr. Reno:


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

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


Published 2015-02-18

Dear Mr. Reno:


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

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

Dana, Prince William County, VA

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


Published 2015-02-17

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

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

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

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

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

  2. Will verbal agreements hold up in court?

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

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

  Please advise. Thank you!

Christie, LPA member Houston, Texas

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

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


Published 2015-02-11

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

Babykins, MI

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

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

Sandra, Arkansas

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


Published 2015-02-10

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

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

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

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

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

Angela M. , South Carolina

A: Times up Angela.

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


Published 2015-02-09

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paula, NY

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

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

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

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

John L., Ohio

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

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

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

Thank you for your time. Sincerely,

Fritzi T., CA

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

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

Patricia, Texas

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


Published 2015-02-06

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

V. Brichuk

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

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


Published 2015-02-03

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

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

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

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


Michelle L., CT

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


Published 2015-02-02

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

Chelsey K., California

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


Published 2015-01-29

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

Angela J.

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

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

Tracey M., Queens, NY

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

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


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:
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 I’m afraid to leave for Christmas (visiting my family out of state) for 10 days b/c I’m 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). He’s 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 he’s 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:
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:
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 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!

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 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.


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:
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:
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:
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 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?

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.


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 “professional renters.” 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 there—it’s being held at the post office. Is this effective service? If not, how do we effectively serve them if they ALWAYS make sure they’re 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 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.

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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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