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Eviction Attorney

Q&A with John Reno, Eviction Attorney

The 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 (info@theLPA.com)






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Published 2015-04-24

Dear Mr. Reno:
Both my daughter (32) and I (her father) are on the apartment lease until Aug. 31. I (father) want daughter evicted for illegal drug use (meth). Help!

Keith M., Colorado

A: I'm so often asked this question. I know of no way one tenant can evict the other. Unless you own the property, there has to be some form of a landlord-tenant relationship. If you find a way- let me know. I'll make millions.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I served a 14-day notice to a tenant with an unauthorized dog (pit bull) on 4/1/15. She failed to cure the violation by 4/14/15 (end of 14 day cure period) and has texted me she isn’t getting rid of the dog. Kansas law indicates she now has to move by the 30th day after the notice date.
My question is, do I have to wait for her to not move out by the 30th or, am I able to proceed with suit for possession now?
Thank you for your help!

Steve, F., Johnson County, Kansas

A: You have to wait.

"The waiting is the hardest part."- Tom Petty

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Published 2015-04-23

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a situation the renters are not allowing me in the house to get things done with those in need. Such as reality company's for appraisals and repairs needed for value and repairs on the house, i have a contract and it says 24HR NOTICE. They also breach the payment agreement. I really prefer to talk via phone over email only cause its what i know at this ole age. About phone calls.... I am a bus driver so plz know the best to leave message if no answer and i will call back as soon as i can!! Thank you so much on this matter. I have also left you a message earlier.

Kimberly

A: As I've said many times on this website, those clauses allowing access on 24 hrs notice can not be enforced legally. So if it bothers you that much, wait 'til the lease is up and evict their butts.
Now non payment, that's different. You can bring them to court now for that and maybe you wont have to wait until the lease is up.

Dear Mr. Reno:
If a tenant moves out and has the electric shut off without notifying myself or electric co. that the responsibility reverts back to me, and by doing so causes damage to rental property, can I use the security deposit towards the damages? Thank you.

Carol - PA

A: That's a new one! 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. Period. If the tenant caused this damage, fine, but please follow proper procedure.

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Published 2015-04-22

Dear Mr. Reno:
I sent a polite, I’m sorry but, notice to my month to month tenants giving them 2 months to vacate. I need to move back into the main floor of my house due to family member illness and more space needed. They responded that my timeline was not good for them. That, they too, have family sickness and money issues and their son was getting married so they will be away and lose 2 weekends to look for something. I responded, extending them the 2 weeks, to June 15 2015. I have not heard from them and they have built a mistrust that they will actually move.

My questions:
Did I properly give them notice or “legally” should I have them served?
What should my next step be and how soon should I do it?

Dorothy A., Suffolk County, New York

A: You can't give notice to vacate verbally. I mean, you can, but then if they don't leave, you can't start an eviction on that. Also, I know you were trying to be nice, but you can't ask someone to leave in the middle of the rented month.

You should call me. I handle your area 667-RENO.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a tenant whose husband left her for another woman, then he ended up in jail on forgery and other charges.
Their lease has expired and per Florida statues they are on a month to month lease. The wife does not want him back.
My attempts at getting him to help her catch up the rent and give notice to get his name off the lease prior to his incarceration were met with hostility because they had been arguing on the phone before I called him.
v He told me not to contact him anymore. I sent him a text explaining that all legal notices would be sent to the lease address and I have not contacted him further.
The wife is continuously paying late despite my best efforts to work with her.
She caught up three months arrears with her 2014 tax return, but is again late with April's rent.
Can I non renew the lease to get him off the lease, assess damages and deduct from security deposit (Dog peed and pooped on floor before wife got rid of him) and require additional security deposit from her for slow payment history, but allow her to sign a new lease with me if she comes up with additional deposit?
Probably week to week?
Thanks so much for your assistance!
P.S. The floors have been damaged and I do not want to spend the cost of replacing them just yet. The house was built in 1927 and they only have the subfloor.
Sincerely,

Stephanie, Florida

A: As long as she consents, you can do your master plan, but when he gets out of the clink and returns, the fireworks will begin. In his mind (and legally) it's still his residence and the only way to end that is to evict him & her- which you sound like you don't want to do. I can understand you wanting to salvage this tenancy so you don't have an empty unit. But until you make a clean break with her, you may not be done with him.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I was wondering if the process for evicting a tenant is the same for a relative. I recently let my drug-using granddaughter into my house to get her into recovery. She has totaled my car and has brought drugs into my household. Do I have to file an eviction lawsuit against her even though we never agreed on rent? Thank you!

Edna W, Pennsylvania, Landlord

A: You should read the Sporazic decision on this Website. A case I won- Dad evicting grown daughter. The judge discusses these issues in depth.

"Recent Courtroom Victories"

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Published 2015-04-20

Dear Mr. Reno:
I (landlord) received Judgment notice with disposition date 2-6-15 for non-payment of rent. The tenant paid all but the filing/server fees which was also granted to me at that time. Did not pay any rent for next two months so took back to court. I received Judgment notice with disposition date 4-9-15, and grant possession if money judgment is not satisfied by the time of eviction. The tenant has paid nothing towards this. I want to evict. What do I need to do now? Thank you.

Carol N., PA.

A: You seem to have managed quite well so far. At this stage, you need to get the court to sign the eviction warrant to bring to the sheriff, Marshall or constable. See the Court clerk about getting the warrant (you may have to type an affidavit saying they didn't pay by 4/9/15.

Dear Mr. Reno:
On 4/13/15 I was noticed late in the day by my renters that the Power company removed the power meter from the property on 4/9/15 and that they have been without power. They are Vietnamese and speak very poor English. I immediately called an electrician, the electrician went to power company in the morning (I had to pay $465 permit/reconnect fee). He went to the house and found out that the elect. panel and meter had been tampered with. I have pics from Power Inspector and Electrician (I paid $800 to electrician) showing that the tenants removed huge added fuses to the panel, ran wire to meter, then ran out (underground/hard to notice) possibly to the abandoned house behind rental house on property. Evidence shows that the renters removed huge quantities of wiring and fuses (have pics) prior to calling me. I googled everything and I now fully believe they are running an illegal marijuana growing facility in both the attic of the old house and in my rental house. By the time I figured this out I immediately called an attorney who hasn't returned my call and I reported my possible suspicions to the Pierce County Sheriff departments drug line, in which I had to leave a recording. I. Am. Freaking. Out! Have I done the necessary steps? Can I do anything more? I want them out immediately!!!
Sincerely,

Meegan N., Landlord of residence in Tacoma, WA.

A: I know you'll think it's crazy, but one thing has nothing to do with the other. They may be criminals, but they're still tenants and still have a lease and pay rent. Most likely, they're not going anywhere until their lease expires.

If you want to give it the old college try, however, start with your lease. Some leases have clauses regarding termination for violation of law. Those clauses are hard to enforce, I'm sure its been done- but I've never seen it.

Second, does you lease make them liable in any way for your electrical expenses. If so, you could add to the rent and if they don't pay, evict for non-payment.

Now you have your homework assigned.

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Published 2015-04-16

Dear Mr. Reno:
Tenant paid first. Last & sec. 3 days into first Mo anoust the that there were Fleas. Tons of them. I wanted to go in and check it out. she said no that she had set off Flea bombs. Not Safe. 2 day later.

I stopped by she was not home. the locks were changed. 12 days later she came home saying she was not going to pay the amount of rent stated in the lease. on the 1st of 2nd month said she wasn’t paying anything till thee 3rd mo. and if i wanted her out it would cost me $1400 Cash.

John , Florida

A: Start the eviction for non-payment on May 2, 2015. Don't dawdle.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I live in Arkansas and I owner financed a house to a guy that now has decided that he will pay me when and if he decides to, and he's past the due date and penalty days and still has not paid. At closing the closing company had him sign a quit claim giving the house back to me if he defaulted, the theory being, all I would have to do is have it filed and recorded if he stopped paying.
My question:
how long do I have to wait before using the quit claim and does that give me immediate possession of the house if he's not physically there, but his possessions still remain inside? Do I have to give him notices and allow him time to get his stuff and destroy my property while he's moving out?
Thank you!

Gary Pruett, Arkansas

A: He's already defaulted so you can file it any time now, assuming there's no written agreement to the contrary. But Possession, that's another matter. If his stuff is there, he's in possession and you must evict. If he fights it, it could take a while.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have tenants who said they want me to apply their Security Deposit to April's rent, and they said they are making a good faith effort to move out by the end of April ... No assurances, though.

I am furious. They have been hostile and insulting.

I hold myself back from calling them, but no lawyer in my area wants to represent landlords. I've sent them two consecutive emails saying that they must be out by April 30 or sooner. I've also advised them that late fees are accruing and that their insulting and hostile emails have me concerned about possible malicious intent.

What should my next step be?

GK

A: So today's the 16th. Two weeks to go. You can start the eviction now for no pay April- or wait 'til 5/1 to see if they leave. That's your call. Good luck.

Dear Mr. Reno:
If a tenant sends in a partial payment for rent do I still add late charges?
Thanks.

Carol

A: Yes. Of course.

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Published 2015-04-14

Dear Mr. Reno:
We live in Maryland and rent our townhouse in South Carolina. Our tenant signed a 1 year lease beginning January 2015. We just received the following text message from him:

"Just wanted to let you know that we have left the country. I have a lot of health issues and without insurance or a job in SC it's hard. We left some things behind in the house it's yours. The house was cleaned and keys are in the lock box. Sorry for the sudden news and thank you for helping us."

Now what do we do? How do we respond? Are we just left with a broken lease?
Thanks,

Kelly, MD

A: 1. Take Possession.

2. Renovate and rerent.

3. Calculate your damages (lost rent, etc.)

4. Get back to me, but note: if they really are out of the country as they say, Que Sera, Sera.

Dear Mr. Reno:
What do I do when the tenants caused over $4,000.00 worth of damage but only $1,100.00 in security on deposit?
I have after photos, but I do not have before photos. However, I do have a signed move-in inspection report listing the good condition.

Brenda W., Pennsylvania

A: Usually them things are resolved in small claims court. (Got New Address? You may need it.)

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Published 2015-04-11

Dear Mr. Reno:
have a lockout date in 10 days but my tenant has moved out already.
My question is: if I take possession and she shows up before the lockout date and wants to get In to my property can I be in trouble for taking possession before the lockout date?

Emilio, San Diego . CA

A: Got keys Emilio? Did she drop'em off? If not, probably a bad idea to enter. I guess is she's 100% out, lock, stock & barrel, you could say she's abandoned. But w/o the keys, you're on thin ice.

Dear Mr. Reno:
My tenants took it upon themselves to get a plumber to fix a small leak in the bathroom and presented me with a receipt for parts and labor totaling $57.00. I was informed of the leak and told the tenant we would be there as soon as we could get there. It didn't sounded like it was anything major but just a small drip. The next day or 2 days later, I received a text letting me know the leak was fixed. I asked what was wrong with it and never heard from the tenant. When they paid their rent the following month, they gave me their receipts. Am I required to reimburse them for the repair of this "leak," which was most likely nothing more than a washer needing replacement? I'm sure we could have fixed the "leak" for a mere $2.00 or less for the washer. The receipt presented is just a receipt from a regular receipt book with no name or address on it from the person who supposedly fixed the leak.

Martha F.

A: Fifty-Seven dollars? That's your beef? I'm amazed that they could get a guy in for that.

Now I do agree that they were wrong to do the repair without notifying you first and giving you a chance to fix it. So you are right and they are wrong and you should send them a certified letter "Don't do that again!", etc., but please, don't go to war over this. Life's too short...

Dear Mr. Reno:
My question is if I suspect illegal activity at my property, what's my recourse and can I lose my property?

Tim B. in N.Y.

A: Yes, I have seen that usually when drugs are involved. In one case my old firm had, the owner was a woman in New Jersey that didn't know her son had turned her Long Island house into a crackhouse. The gov. seized the house. We spent 4 yrs in court to win it back b/c the owner had no knowledge.

Oddly, the landlord-tenant court will not let you evict on those grounds. You'll need to let the lease expire and not renew. Or give a 30 day notice if its month to month. You could tell the authorities, now about your suspicions- but I wouldn't recommend it. You'd be opening a can of worms.

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Published 2015-04-10

Dear Mr. Reno:
Two questions about withholding partial Security Deposit funds:
Do I have a case for anything since I did not do a move-in inspection and do not have pictures?
Can I deduct late fees for late rental payments after-the-fact if I told the tenant they did not have to
include them in the subsequent month’s rent when the delinquency occurred?

Mark, MD

A: All those items are damages flowing from the breach, and the tenant is liable, the question is, can you deduct it from security, and that's a whole separate issue. 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. Period. So if your lease doesn't specifically allow these deductions, you're on thin ice.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a condo with a husband and wife as Tenant. I had some issues with the master Association requiring the Tenant to pay for a renewal of the lease. The Tenants did not want to pay and it came to me having to pay for the renewal fee and the legal fees charged by the association total of $200.00. I talked to the tenants and explain to them that I am going to list the place for sale and they talked with the realtor about the process. The wife is now giving the realtor a hard time when the want to show the condo. What can I do to be able to show the place and have the tenants feel comfortable with the process?

Elizabeth, Florida

A: Access in situations like this is problematic. Many landlords put it in the lease, but even then, it's almost impossible to enforce. Your only chance is to get the cooperation of this tenant on a voluntary basis- whatever it takes. Sugar here goes a lot further than vinegar.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have an evicted tenant who has a substantial balance overdue. They filed chapter 7 but did not list me as a creditor on the bankruptcy paperwork. Can I still garnish her paycheck despite the bankruptcy filing?

Mitch and Jennifer

A: It sounds like they dropped the ball there. If you're not listed as a creditor, you're clear for take off. (Probably should wait 'til bankruptcy is done so they don't amend the petition.)

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Published 2015-04-08

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am 40 yrs old. Have 3 children, ages 5, 13 & 16. I have lived in my home 21 years. I am also newly seperated. So I thought this could help financially.
My niece is 24 yrs old. She contacted me in August 2014. Said she needed a place to stay, that she would help with bills, kids, "whatever you need" she said. The months of Sept thru Dec she only gave me $140 and neglected to help around the house. Feel this was equally my fault, being no agreement was in place.

First few days of Jan we had a discussion and came to a verbal agreement that she would pay $300 a month. In Jan she gave me $210. A week later she decided that it should be $200, that $300 wasn't fair. When in all honesty $300 doesn't even cover what she eats in my home. In Feb she takes off, don't hear from her for 2 weeks. She still has a key to my house, her things are still here.
I only want her to pay what was agreed upon in Jan, which is $90 for Jan and $150 for half the month of Feb. She hasn't been here in over 30 days. Yesterday I received a text from her stating that she'll be at my house Monday with police to get her things. After everything I've done for her!!
What are my options?

Tania, Lexington, Kentucky

A: You lost me Tania. She says she's coming to get her things. Doesn't that mean your problem is solved.

Is it about the money? Okay then. You had a verbal agreement. That's what small claims is for.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I'm renting my office space to someone to make cabinets we don't have a contract nor has he paid his rent,he's two months behind on electricity bill, and has wood debris all over its a safety and fire hazard I want him out ,can I lock him out?

Luis

A: Even a commercial rental requires an eviction. You could lock him out- he could break back in. No jury would convict him.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have tenancy started from feb, 2015 and I received first and last month rent, but my tenant now did not pay for the rent of march and when I asked she said she did not sleep in the apartment until 23rd of February and so her rent does not consider from beginning of feb month even if she had the keys for the apartment. I gave her notice that is 14 days and if she does not pay the rent by then we can apple in landlord and tenant board but now she gave me a notice saying this is an illegal apartment and she can get me in trouble. she is a smoker and I have given her many alerts with my child’s health issue if she cannot smoke in the building but she still does. how can I evict her iwant to end tenancy and evict her. please guide me with legal device.

faryal

A: Rent starts when you deliver keys. She's on her way out. Evict for no pay. Good luck.

Dear Mr. Reno:
The lease was signed by a man and a woman. They had a fight and the man was put in jail. The Man was released after two days and has a restraining order.
The woman is terminating the lease early. We don't object.

The lease does not have a provision for a unilateral termination , can we as landlord proceed With the early termination dealing only with the woman? We do not know where to contact The man and he has removed his belongings from the apartment.

Thank you for your prompt response.

Fernando

A: I think you're on the right track. Normally, I could say you need his signature, but he's already abandoned the premises. Once she moves out, I'd say, case closed. I don't think you need a writing in this case at all. (By the way, are you letting her live out the security? That would solve that issue too.)

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Published 2015-04-07

Dear Mr. Reno:
Double font doors (Circa 1960 with Amber Flemish Glass) have 12 panels of glass total; 6 per door. Tenant’s son broke one of the panels. I find that the glass is no longer produced and have exhausted my ability to find replacement pane.
Is tenant responsible to replace all glass so it matches or are they only responsible for single pane and landlord has to pay for additional panes?
THANKS! - David

David

A: Technically, they have to put it back the way it was, or replace with a product of comparable value. But where are we going with this? At most, you'll probably be deducting it from their security- but you'll have a fight. Try getting on expert to come to court to testify at trial. What's that you say? You'll print something off the internet? Try bringing that to court and putting it in as evidence. It's inadmissible. Tenant has the right to cross-examination your expert. Welcome to my world.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am a property manager for a LL that is not in the city in which the property is. We have a tenant who was severed a 3 day notice for non payment as of 3/1/15 on 3/16/15. Lease doesn't state payment can not be made by personal check and tenant dropped a payment in drop slot on 3/20/15 as per the notice expiration date.

I have the check but called the tenant and refused payment, and sent a email to her demanding payment in certified funds on 3/24/2015 before next day 3/25 @9am or would evict her. Will I have my eviction dismissed since the post notice was sent after the original 3 day notice and not in proper format.

Thanks,

Roberta, Fl

A: I would deposit the check. Otherwise, she's just going to come into court and make the payment, and you'll be dismissed on that basis. You'll get your Certified funds, but that seems like a lot of trouble to go through to get'em.

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Published 2015-04-06

Dear Mr. Reno:
This my situation:
The one year lease with the tenants expired but as stated on it, after one year it defaulted to a month-to-month. Because of several things; some in lines of lease violations. e.g. bringing in a pet without our permission, almost always paying the rent over five days late and not keeping the apartment cleaned. In December of last year we had a talk, at which point we asked them to move out. They said they couldn't move within 60 days and asked if we give them six months. And we made the mistake to agree to it.

What I did was document the points about the discussion, outlining the issues and some conditions (get rid of the pet, maintain the apartment clean, start paying the rent on time) under which we would agree for them to stay for six months and gave to them for review and sign. They refused to sign it. We let things be, they continue to live in the apartment, but not much has changed.

The six months stay extension is expiring in May 31st, 2015. I reminded them that the six months term was ending and that I was going to begin a search for new tenants. Their response was that they are not sure when they will move out.

So my question is:
Given what I have mentioned, am I violating anything if I gave them a 60 days notice to move out now, considering that is the approximate time to left for the period to end, or do I need to wait until May 31st, to give them the 60 days notice? I am using 60 days because that is what the initial lease indicates.

Please let me know if you have questions or if need to further explain the situation.

Any advice you can provide is greatly appreciated.
Thanks and regards,

Saul, Brockton, Massachusetts

A: Even though the lease expired, most lease clauses live on, including the 60 day notice (Note: the no pet clause doesn't expire, neither did the 60 day notice.) So you should have given the notice before 3/31 for 5/31. Now you're in spot. You can give the notice now, but it would be for June 30, not May 31. (I hope I haven't rained on your parade too much.)

Dear Mr. Reno:
We have sold the condo recently but he tenant is non cooperative from the day one he got clue that we are going to sell the condo.

We have served the notice of hearing 60 day to move out for the buyers family to move in? How long time LTB will take after hearing so that he can be moved if necessary by sheriff. As he is trouble maker talent what other obstacle he can create for landlord and the new buyer. please advice for this matter in detail.

Thanks and regards.

You are providing very useful information to landlord and I appreciate your services.

Ismail

A: When you mention the "LTB", is that Landlord Tenant Board? Or is that a court? I hope you mean court because that's where you're headed. The eviction process takes one to three months depending on your state but the eviction starts AFTER the 60 days is up. So base your calculations on that. As to obstacles, make sure the 60 day notice is attached in accordance with the lease and you have proof.

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Published 2015-04-02

Dear Mr. Reno:
I rent a small house to a guy...he has been there two months....his girlfriend is NOT on the lease and doesn't pay for anything and he wants her out.....she tells him she has to have a 30-day notice.... Can he just put her stuff on the porch and change the locks?

Zan, Oregon

A: Yes, if he wants to end up in jail. If she's been there 30 days, she's got occupancy rights. Sorry, but he made his own bed.

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Published 2015-03-31

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

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

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

======================== 

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

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

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

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

Kathy B

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

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

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

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


#2: Should he get a lawyer? Let me ask you two questions before I answer"

1. Did this tenant leave?

2. How much is she suing for?

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

Dave, LI, NY

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

***************

Published 2015-03-30

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

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

Paul S.

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

***************

Published 2015-03-25

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

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

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

Thank you

David and Gail

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

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

***************

Published 2015-03-24

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

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

Scott from Texas

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

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

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

Julia N., San Diego, California.

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


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

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

***************

Published 2015-03-23

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

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

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

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

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

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

Al in Delaware

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

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

Tania H. Lexington, Kentucky

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

***************

Published 2015-03-19

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

Tatsiana, NY

A: Sue in small claims court.

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

Robert in California

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

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

Nancy J., New Hampshire

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

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

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

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

Kim A. – New York

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

***************

Published 2015-03-18

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

Al in Delaware

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

***************

Published 2015-03-17

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

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

Judy, Lindenhurst, NY

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

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

Carolyn, FL

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

***************

Published 2015-03-13

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

Fang

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

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

Shay

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

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

***************

Published 2015-03-12

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

Patrick, Nevada

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

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

***************

Published 2015-03-11

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

Jessie, San Diego, CA

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

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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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