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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 (


Recent Court Victory

Warrant of Eviction with money judgment of $18,600.00 AWARDED!


Published 2016-09-21

Dear Mr. Reno:
I own my home in New York State. My ex girlfriend was living there and never paying rent, utilities. I have been paying for everything. She has now purposely destroyed my house and has stolen everything out of my house. She has started a lawsuit wanting half of the proceeds of the selling of my house. I want her out of my house, what do I do? I need your help. Thank You

Staci F., NY

A: Where do you find these people?
Well obviously you need to evict this person. You can start with a 30 day notice to vacate.
You need to hire a local atty. This will get tricky.

Published 2016-09-20

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a tenant that is 3 months late on his rent. He has broken out 4 windows Kick in two doors broken door jambs and the carpet is damaged beyond Repair. This is a 3 bedroom two full baths, large laundry room with washer/ Dryer. Furnished kitchen. Stove, Frig, Dishwasher etc. ceiling fans in every room.
He has been letting in lots of people in all hours of the night. Drug users.
I served him a 3 day notice to vacate the property a month ago. He said he found another place to move, but just two weeks ago he pulled a gun on someone and shot the gun.
He did not hit anyone. He did get locked up. Bond is $20,000.00. No one is coming To help him get out. He does a lot of drugs. Mean time he is in jail and a lot of people have been coming into his apartment removing furniture. Washer there cloths, sleeping there.

These people say that the renter said to move hiss furniture and could stay there.
Water is turned off . Crap in the toilets. Place stinks. I have an abandonment Clause In the contract. What are my rights to remove all the junk that is left in the apartment.
To change locks on the exterior doors. Do I have to go through the courts to get my place back. The electric is in someones name not his. So the electric co. will not let me turn it off.
When the bill is two months behind, I will have to pay the electrical in order to be able to have a new renter to come in. What are my options

R. Wayne, Eastpoint, FL

A: The general rule is, when someone is arrested, that is not a signal to the landlord to change the locks. In other words, if he were paying the rent, he could stay in prison & you couldn't evict him.

But he's not paying the rent. So you can evict for non-payment, not for abandonment. He has not abandoned- he's in jail. His stuff is still there. You must evict. But you could have done that 2 months ago. You shouldn't have waited. Better late than never.

Evict tenant and John Doe and Jane Doe. If you go in there without an eviction, you're opening yourself up to law suits from him or any of his low life friends that claim you trashed their stuff.

Published 2016-09-19

Dear Mr. Reno:
After the (year) contract with our Tenants ended on February 2016, my wife and I agreed to give them a 6 months extension because they were buying a house. They signed a Contract Extension Agreement. One of the points in the Agreement they signed stated that:

ē If the Tenant requests the Landlord for further changes after June 14th, 2016, the Landlord would contemplate such changes but in case of acceptance, the Tenant will lose their deposit.

As per the agreement, they were supposed to leave the premises on or before August 14th, 2016. On August 8th, 2016, a few days before the ending of the agreement, I sent them a message asking for the date they were planning to leave. They informed me that they need to stay more time. They even said that if I do not give them more time, they will not vacate the property anyway.

On August 15th, 2016, after going back and forth for a while and because we wanted to avoid all the legal paperwork needed for eviction, we signed a Letter of Agreement for a One Month Lease with them. They finally leaved on September 14.

The question is - can we keep the deposit as per the point above-mentioned and because they anyway stayed after the contract expiration?

Thank you for your attention.

Carlos A. Gonzalez, Florida

A: I'm a little leary 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 agreement runs a foul of local security regulations, I really can't say.

Related Security Deposit forms :

Avoid lawsuits and comply with state security deposit return laws. Security Deposit Return Time Chart State by State

Security Deposit Settlement Statement

Property Condition Inspection Report

Security Settlement Challenge Crusher

Published 2016-09-16

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am a new member to LPA. We were showing a rental to potential tenants. A woman said she wanted the place. she texted me that "i will take it" I texted her back that I wanted money down and that we could not hold it for her without money down. she gave me 650 down. then when the rest of the money was due and we needed to meet and sign the lease and get her moved in she quit taking my calls and texts. on the fifth of July she texted me that she changed her mind and wanted the money back. I explained that this was the whole reason for asking for the money down and that if she wasn't sure she should not have had me hold the place. I did not give her money back regardless of the texts and phone calls from her and her mother. I told her if I rented the place I would prorate the money she paid and give her back money based on when I rented it. I am going to court now over this all and am being sued for the 650 and filing fees. was I within my rights to have kept the money down? when I go back and look at the check, she wrote "security" in the memo section. she is now trying to say she gave me security not a down payment.


A: Here we go again with the buyers deposit. (Check out my answer to Diane on 9/13). But in that case, the tenant signed the lease. Not here. A small claims judge could go either way on this. "Security" in the memo complicates it further. Hard to predict the outcome. Bring your checkbook.

Published 2016-09-15

Dear Mr. Reno:
Good morning,
My question is if a tenant decides to breach her Suffolk County, NY lease and depart early, is the landlord allow to keep the last months rent that was collected at the signing of the lease? There is also security that will be used for any damages etc. The tenant is leaving 5 months into a 12 month lease. The tenant has given less than 30 days notice but has also provided 2 possible tenants to move in upon departure. One tenant wants it but does not have the financial ability to come up with first, last and 1 month sec. The other does have the financial ability. But I have not received the rental applications from either to allow the landlord to do their due diligence.

But the original question applies. Can the landlord keep the last months rent?
The tenant says no and the following "I understand the law allows me to be charged until the end of my lease but NOT if there is no loss of income. If a renter comes in October 1st you and the landlords are not allowed by law to keep any of my money. I've been renting all my life and have successfully sued two landlords in small claims court for keeping money not legally owed to them. I have no desire to enter into a cantankerous relationship now when it's been so lovely up to this point. There is no penalty allowed by law for leaving lease early. The lease is a contract and I am liable for the rent on the unit until the end of my lease UNLESS and until it is rented. If the unit stayed empty then I could be taken to court to collect on the lease. In these cases the landlord has to prove the unit is empty, has remained empty and not able to be rented. And in fact, the law states that first and last month payments can only be used for rent. Period. The statue is plain lease law available on several websites. "

I look forward to your reply.
Best Regards,

Janalyn Travis-Messer, Broker, Griffing & Collins Real Estate,
DJTM Enterprises, Llc

A: Where did you find this Clarence Darrow wanna-be?

If you re-rent without any loss of rent, your case for keeping that money is weak. You would have no damages, the money would be considered a penalty. I doubt most small claims judges would let you keep it.

But you can't insist on re-renting on the same terms. So if tenant A doesn't have the dough, you don't need to make a special arrangement to satisfy Clarence Darrow. Also tenant B hasn't put in the paperwork.

So it remains to be seen what will happen.

Dear Mr. Reno:
Sir,I have some people that I gave a lease to own deal with and specified they could move in if they would clean up the last tenants mess and they could live rent or lease free for 2months for doing so ,
that was in April of 2016, now it's sept 2016 and they haven't paid any monies at all to live there as agreed in the lease to own, now I have notified them via email , that I want them out ,cause I've Re-leased the property, and they agreed to move via email, by Sept 5th, andndndrathernswering haven't done so ,claiming they didn't have money for a truck to move ,and said they would be out by the 9th via email and now it's the 11th and they still haven't moved and claimed they can't afford to move how can I get them out of my property legally and immediately?

William Cayton, VA

A: You gave them a lease. That makes them tenants.

Serve a pay or quit- notice of default, or whatever and start your non-payment eviction.

Time's a wastin'!

Dear Mr. Reno:
I said no to my tenant's request to have a roommate since lease stipulates single occupancy.
Am I in violation of the roommate law?

Since the denial, tenant has accused me of not upholding lease 24 hour entry notice since I entered apartment in what I deemed an emergency due to probable water damage without notice. He deems a water leak not an emergency. I suggested we talk about his options to end the lease since he continues to be unreasonable.

Tenant has now begun written communication accusing me of inflammatory communication with him.

What are my rights as a landlord re occupancy and entry?
Can I suggest tenant pursue options to end lease, eg, assignment?
Should I just let it go?

Carol Eckermann, landlord, Syracuse, NY

A: All bad news Carol:

New York's "Roommate law" is very clear- you cannot deny your single tenant to have one non-tenant occupant.

And you have no absolute right to entry. Only whatever access rights are provided in the lease. Even those, hard to enforce. (A water "leak" is not an "emergency", like a fire.)

Dear Mr. Reno:
Brother had legal issues. His wife and 2 kids were going to lose their house so they needed a place to stay. Mom invited them to stay a short time for her to get on her feet and find a place to stay. Of course not contract, all verbal. No money exchanged between her and mom. She began to become abusive to my mom. Mom is almost 80. Police were at the house twice although there were 4 instances of this abuse. We had her file a Quit with Sheriffs' Department. Quit was served and it is a 30 day quit. I have been trying to find out what constitutes vacated a premises. I noticed her once pack two suite cases and was not seen for 2 days with the kids. She still had personal belongings in the house. She has not indicated verbally or in writing her intent. If she leaves again and we do not see her or hear from her, is this considered vacating the premises? Should we have to ask her what her intentions are?

Thanks for your time.

Chuck Johnson, Burke, VA

A: This is the perennial question. When has the tenant vacated? It is not always clear. As a general rule, if her stuff is there, she's there, but not forever.

I would say, if she's gone 30 days, then put it in storage.

Dear Mr. Reno:
Property owned by parents and a daughter. Parents willing to sign rental agreement. Daughter has not, keeps postponing to sign, saying its already sign by the parents (parents paid for the property all cash)Ö.
Do I need the daughterís signature?
Thank you

Lala Shapona

A: You're cleared for take off Lala. Any owner can "let" the property. You don't need the whole cabal.

Published 2016-09-14

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am a landlord, and I rent a house to a tenant in California. My tenant's lease contract ended July 11, 2016. After the contract ended, it became a month to month lease. On July 30, 2016 I delivered a rent adjustment notice to this tenant. The tenant owns a beauty shop. She was working when I was there, and it was very busy and her daughter was helping. The tenant does not speak English. When I went inside, she and her daughter saw me. After waiting for a short time, the daughter came to speak with me. I sat down and pulled the paper document out and explained to her daughter. The rent adjustment started September 1 (thirty days notice was given). The tenant refuses to pay the increased rent. She states I did not give the notice directly to her, I had given it to her daughter. Her daughter is in junior high. The tenant saw me come into the beauty shop and saw me speaking to her daughter. The daughter has always been the one to communicate with me and translate to her mother. The tenant insists that I did not give the document to her, even though she was less than 10 feet away when I was explaining it to her daughter.

Can you please advise?

Rose, CA

A: You're on thin ice there Rose. Are we going to evict her for non-payment for not paying the increase? I wouldn't want to be the lawyer with that case.

Better off trying it again for November 1, 2016. This time, hire a process server for about 75 bucks so there's no loop hole. Also, review the fine print in your lease for special "notice" provisions that may apply. Good luck.

Published 2016-09-13

Dear Mr. Reno:
On September 2, 2016, we had two individuals that passed the credit and criminal check, give us the security deposit for our rental unit and at that time, they signed a year lease. We were to meet on September 15th to give them the keys to the unit, collect the rent for the month, collect the information stating that they obtained renters insurance, and changed all utilities into their names. They texted Sunday, 9/11/16, in the evening, and said that they no longer were interested in renting due to a car accident that a family member in the state of CA had. They insisted on getting back the deposit. My question to you is, are we required by law to give back the security deposit? We were under the impression that we could legally keep it and that we could legally hold them to the full year of rent. We do not wish to hold them to the lease agreement for one year, but want to keep the deposit because we now have to advertise again and are losing at least one month rent. Please advise.
Thank you,

Diane and Kirk N., LPA Members, KS

A: To all the crazy tenants (or would be tenants) that want their deposit back- I must ask- what is the reason of the deposit if it has to be returned? That's the whole point!

And you could technically sue them for every month that unit is vacant. THEY SIGNED A LEASE. IT'S A CONTRACT. WE ARE BOUND BY OUR AGREEMENTS!

Published 2016-09-12

Dear Mr. Reno:
Bottom line is that my renters have had issues from the beginning and I extended their security deposit due date until the second month of their lease (9/1/16). As of this writing, not only have they not paid the security deposit, but they have not paid their entire months rent for September.

I sent an email on 9/4 explaining that they would need to pay the entire months rent by 9/5 (as noted in the lease) to avoid a late fee. I then went on to point out that it's unacceptable to not pay the security deposit. I left it with giving them one last chance to come up with a plan that they can abide by and have since heard nothing.
I really don't want to evict as I would have a hard time maintaining two mortgages for long, but the lack of communication since my last email is cause or concern.
Should I bite the bullet and get a local attorney involved? Sincerely,

Rich Nathan, Aurora, IL

A: Attention Landlords: PLEASE STOP giving possession without security. (Making the tenant agree to pay it later turns logic on its head.) It's like saying "I need security in case you breach because I don't trust you. But don't worry, you can pay it later, because I trust you". See what I mean?

Now the rent is another matter. You can't get a whole year's rent in advance. So notify the tenant if the rent is not paid within 3 days, eviction proceedings will need to be commenced.

Published 2016-09-07

Dear Mr. Reno:
We have an apartment in Queens, NYC
We just rented to three occupants for Sept 1 rental. The tenants have neither paid the September rent, but moreover we have a no smoking clause written in their lease. Yesterday, they called us because of an issue with the electronic entry lock and upon arrival to execute repair, there was a strong smell of marijuana and one of the occupants was obviously high. The are three days into this rental agreement and are already in violation of non - payment of rent and the non- smoking clause. Can I terminate this lease without having to go through the courts considering the lease has only been in affect for three days?

Grace, NY

A: In a perfect world, maybe. But with a lease, probably not. You need to review your lease thoroughly. Is there a provision for termination due to lease violation?

By the way, how did they move in Sept. 1 without paying the September rent? Your bad?

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am the landlord of a newer home which I rent to a young divorced woman with two children. Sheís been there now 10 months and she wants to move in her new boyfriend.
I received a application from him and he was just released from prison for committing a felony. Am I allowed to deny him tenancy to move in with her? Thanks.

Bob, G, PA

A: I don't do screenings Bob. I'm in the "kicking them out" department. I don't know about who gets let in. But offhand, my first instinct is the Fair Housing Act. Race, color, creed, handicap, sex, age, religion, sexual orientation in some places, these are the "suspect classifications" that violate the fair housing act. Nothing in there about prison. Legally, you don't have to RENT to him.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I sent tenants the lease to sign and return to me. Never received it. Tenants claimed they signed and would send me a copy. Never received it. Now they want to move out this month. Advised that they are now on a month to month and owe more than the rent from the previous year.
The new lease stated they would owe for two (2) months plus the current rent if they broke the lease. What legal recourse do I have?
Thank you.

Yvette G., Florida

A: The lease expired! They haven't broken it. It ended.

(But you could hold them liable for October unless they notified you prior to 9/1/16.)

Published 2016-09-03

Dear Mr. Reno:
My mom is the owner, of a rent stabilized, six apartment railroad style building here in NYC. We live in this building as well. Iím involved because, my mom doesnít speak English, so iím the interpreter. I will try my best to make this as short as possible. This is probably clichť, but my mom is super nice, to the point where i feel like she's too nice, she treats everyone in our building like family, she wants everyone to live happily and comfortably. Because of her kind nature, i feel like sheís taken advantage of. We have an apartment rented out to two roommates, two friendís, a male (Mr. W) and female (Ms. B), they are both on the lease, so co-tenants, they are in their young 20s, theyíve lived here for about 4 years, since they were still college students. Everyone has always been amicable, until about two years ago, when the roommates seemed to drift apart, as they have relayed to me. They seemed to have argued a lot, to the point where they even decided pay their rent separately. The problems started here, Mr. W would pay on time every month, while Ms.B , would constantly be late, like 10 days late, her excuse was, she didnít have her checkbook or her bank is not in NY so she canít get a temporary check, she refused to pay cash, so we have no choice but to accept her check. My mom, being the nice lady she is, she would be ok with it, because she tries to understand her. This was until we saw the condition of their apartment, when we went to fix their door lock. It was a mess, garbage dump site like, itís impossible to explain in a few words. I donít understand how anyone can live in such condition. It turns out, Mr. W hasnít been able to use the common area, the kitchen, and living room, for the past two years, because Ms.B has taken over it with all her belongings, her art materials, clothing thrown everywhere. I felt extremely sorry to Mr.W, i wish i wouldíve been told sooner. Every year, we make inspections in each apartment to make sure everything is in good shape. Otherwise, the only other time we would even step foot into their apartment, is if we are contacted because something is not working. I have spoken to them of the messy and unsanitary conditions of their apartment, and Ms.B has promised to tidy up, but also claiming, that, this is not untidy or messy to her. These past few months, they seem to be having more arguments, to the point where they woke up the whole building at 3AM one time, Mr.W is more of a quiet person, so he didnít wish to argue with her, and so he stayed inside his room, while Ms.B was super aggressive, banging on his door, screaming and yelling at him. My parents and I, we were away for that weekend, so i knew of the incident from one of my terrified tenant, right below their unit, when she called me at 3:30am. After i got off the phone, i immediately, tried to get in contact with them, but no one picked up. I gave my terrified tenant, a text, to check up on her and the situation and she told me, they stopped upstairs, thereís no noise no more. I couldnít do much any that point, so i had to wait till morning. The first thing i did the next morning was speak to them, Mr.W told me his side of the story and Ms.B as well, it was over a very small matter, where someone forgot to take the trash out from the bathroom. But, what i spoke to them of was, why did you have to distrub everyone at 3am, banging so hard, why couldnít you wait till morning to resolve the matter. Ms.B denied her distrubance to everyone, she claims, she wasnít that loud, even though everyone else in the building says otherwise. At this point, they were about 5 months away from their lease expiration. I sat them both down, and i conveyed what my mom had said, i explained, no matter what problems you have with each other, please resolve it calmly, please donít cause disturbance's to others. Another main point i relayed to them was, please tidy up the apartment, itís unhealthy and unsanitary for either of you. I relayed that, if your conflicts are just not resolvable, i feel like itís hard for you to live together like this, itís not healthy for either, emotionally or mentally. They both understood my point and agreed to attempt for a resolution. But, unfortunately, this wasnít resolved, Ms.B continued with her aggressive matters (but she didnít do so in the hallways no more, she stayed in the apartment) and messy state in the apartment. But their neighbor could not take it anymore and asked for an early termination of their lease, we have no choice but to do so, because it was unfair to them, to have to be disturbed or frightened by Ms.B. So, with just a month before Mr.W and Ms.Bís lease expiration, they both approached me and said, they canít work out their problems, they want to move. They asked for a bit more time, so my mom being so kind, said ok. Their lease expired July 2016, so they asked to be out by Sept 1st 2016. For this long long email, that iím beyond sorry but thankful for you reading. Itís August 31st today, Mr.W has moved out almost everything already. However, Ms.B decided to file multiple complaints on August 29th to HPD, i was notified on the same day through HPDís phone call. Right away, i wished to address the complaints, i contacted both, by phone, Ms.B did not answer, but Mr.W did, he was surprised and confused. The complaints were filed about, no hot water, and broken fridge. Mr. W told me, there's no such thing, he just took a shower last night and this morning and their was plenty of hot water, and there was nothing wrong with the fridge. Still, i asked if it was possible for us to please view it. He agreed and allow us access to his apartment, with his presence. We checked the complaints and found none of the complaints were real. The hot water was perfectly fine, as well as the fridge. I did not understand why she didnít inform us first of what was wrong, and decided to file complaints first. We are known in the building to get repairs done right away, every tenant knows whatever problem, big or small, they can contact us 24/7. Mr. W told me, itís nonsense, she has hardly been home for a good month, sheís making these complaints up. He was able to contact HPD and explain the situation. It was then relayed to me, that as long as everything is ok, i shouldínt have to worry, but no matter what, thereís no way i can stop her complaints. Itís currently 11pm, Wed August 31st, I havenít been able to reach Ms.B at all since we checked the complaints. I had even notified her everything is working fine after we responded to the complaints. I can conclude she wonít be leaving or moving by Sept 1st, as she had promised. In this position, we really donít have any clue what to do. We have spoken to lawyers, but they all told us, nothing can be done. My mom has been nothing but kind owner, i just donít know what to do, her health isnít the best, but iím helpless. Iím sorry to have you read this super long letter, but i'm truly grateful for your time and help. Have a wonderful day!


Anny, Brooklyn, NY

A: Well aside from you having this terrible tenant, I don't see a big problem here. Her lease is up, hopefully, she's packing as we speak.

If not, you can either commence a "holdover" proceeding in the housing court, or evict for non-payment if she doesn't pay the rent.

I don't get why the lawyer says "nothing can be done." Nothing can be done about what? The complaints are all bogus- you'll have to deal with them in the normal manner. You can't prevent bogus complaints. All you can do is defend yourself.

Also, I don't believe the courts will consider your eviction "retaliatory." They even notified you in July they want out. So cheer up, Anny.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am purchasing a commercial building (1940 house in downtown business district). It closes escrow on 9/12/16. tenant has a 90 day vacate agreement with seller(his landlord) which is 30 days after close of escrow. He was given notice 7/15/16. Tenant is on month to month and the vacate document is NOT part of the purchase agreement. I just learned of it and he strongly believes he has until 10/15/16?

Keith, California

A: The general rule is that you "stand in the shoes" of the prior owner with respect to any leases or other arrangements between the landlord and the tenant. He should sign an assignment at the closing assigning the lease to you. I don't know why you didn't know about this situation, but now you do.

Are you trying to get out of this deal?

Published 2016-08-31

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have made a mistake of keeping $3200 security deposit together with last month rent in the same savings account in my name. Reading Massachusetts Law I think I am in violation. There is estimated and document damages about $2000.00 to the unit Ė tenant moving out on August 31st I am thinking of refunding the deposit in full and billing for damages, and if I donít get payment then suing for damages. Does refunding a deposit work against me? Has anyone done this?

Thank you,

Svetlana Trifonov, Newton, MA

A: I don't know the answer. So you will be in small claims court claiming $2000 in damages after having returned the full deposit. Obviously, the judge will ask you why you did that, and you'll say, you returned it in full because you were in technical violation of the security law. Will that hurt your case? It may.

(You might return it with a statement that you are "reserving your rights" to sue damages to the unit. That might help.)

Related forms:

Avoid lawsuits and comply with state security deposit return laws. Security Deposit Return Time Chart State by State

Security Deposit Settlement Statement

Property Condition Inspection Report

Security Settlement Challenge Crusher

Published 2016-08-26

Dear Mr. Reno:
My tenant was hospitalized in July, he indicated an agency would be paying his rent payments. I have not had any communications with this "agency". His August rent was late by 10 days and $25 short. We have always had a contentious relationship, I prefer to communicate with him in writing, he insists on a conversation. He has told me that he wonít be paying his September rent, and will see me in court. His lease ends at the end of November. How do I proceed?

Thank you!

Cindy, New York

A: Well you wouldn't go to court over $25, the question is, what do we do in September? I would serve a Notice of Default on 9/2/16. Wait 10 days- then start a Non-payment eviction.

That is, unless you see signs of his vacateur. Has he started packing?

Published 2016-08-25

Dear Mr. Reno:
I manage a small hotel in Colorado. I have 17 rooms rented to a contractor for his employees.
At the start of last month, I told the site manager that there would be no refund for rooms that were vacated early. We agreed on this, however it was verbal. Although, I got 1/2 the rent on the 15th, he has not paid the remainder of the monthly rent agreement and is complaining that this is not fair.
Well, no other hotels in the area give a refund if the tenant leaves early. What recourse do I have if he doesnít pay?
Thank you,

Jean Flaherty,

A: "Sue the bastards"

Published 2016-08-24

Dear Mr. Reno:
We have tenants of 4 years in our rental house. The wife keeps the house immaculately clean but is always complaining about little cosmetic things that she wants us to fix. Her husband recently called us on the phone and said his wife THINKS there is mold in her bathroom. We went over there an hour later and the baseboard molding outside the shower had a small amount of dry rot and a small hole. The grout on the floor under the molding was cracking. I saw no indication of mold and didnít smell mold. the wall and floor was dry, not damp. I said we would have a mold inspector come out and test. The tenant said we should just have the molding and drywall replaced and painted and that should take care of the problem. If there is mold in the wall then replacing the molding & painting will not take care of mold. If I have an inspection & mold test it will cost me $350. If there is no mold present then I am out that money. Or can I have the tenant pay for it if no mold is present? Should I have the testing done and consider the $350 the cost of being a landlord?

Should I ask the tenant to put his request in writing as required in his lease and then proceed with the testing if he states there is in fact mold?
We live in Arizona where mold is not that common.

Cindy Allison, Arizona

A: You checked it out yourself. You said no mold. So make the repair and forget about the mold.

Dear Mr. Reno:
My question is about the letter that explains why security deposit is being retained.

MA law states: "In the case of such damage, the lessor shall provide to the tenant within such thirty days an itemized list of damages, sworn to by the lessor or his agent under pains and penalties of perjury, itemizing in precise detail the nature of the damage and of the repairs necessary to correct such damage, and written evidence, such as estimates, bills, invoices or receipts, indicating the actual or estimated cost thereof".

What does "sworn under pains and penalties of perjury" mean? Is there some special procedure or a specific language I need to include?

Svetlana Trifonov, Newton,MA

A: Normally, I would just say that just means it get's notarized. But 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.

LPA Landlords usually use these forms:

  • The Security Deposit Settlement Statement allows you to make valid, itemized and explained deductions from security deposits.
  • Property Condition Report

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    Eviction hearing is next week for nonpayment of rent (2 months). Rent always late and history of tenant landlord cases. Will magistrate evict if children in home ages 6 and 10.
    Thank you.

    Vincene Smith, property in PA.

    A: That wont stop the eviction. May give'em and extra couple of weeks or a month at most.

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    I have used a leasing agent to manage my rent home. They have collected money from renters, but suddenly stopped paying me.

    1.) Do the normal eviction rules apply?
    2.) Are there unique violations committed when an agent is basically spending what should be escrowed funds?


    Martin, Houston, TX

    A: 1. Yes, except (see below)

    2. What is going on here? Do we even know if the tenants are paying? If the tenants are paying but the agent is stealing the money, that's not their fault and you can't evict. You understand that, right?

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    NYS case:
    Tenant has a co-signer not living in the premises.
    Tenant breach lease and has past due rent and damages, lives in county C.
    Co-signer lives in county A.
    Going to small claims court in county C to file against tenant.court date set.
    If I recd a judgement on tenant
    Not allowed to file against co-signer in county C.
    Do I file in County A for co-signer action?
    What steps and what do I need to do?
    Thanks for your help and your post are very informative.

    Linda, NY

    A: So on small claims, you have to sue both in their respective counties. There's only one catch is the second person you sue will try to use the judgement as a defense. You can fight that, but to be safe, sue the one 1st that you can garnish.

    Published 2016-08-19

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    I have a new tenant moving in 9/1. He has a 1 year lease at his current location that has expired or is beyond the 1 year term. When he approached his landlord about moving, he was told the lease automatically renewed for another year therefore he must continue rent payments until landlord finds another tenant. And, the landlord is increasing the monthly rent from $850 to $950 for new tenant. Can landlord enforce an automatic annual term renewal?
    Thanks for any help or considerations.

    Jerry Barry, Sulphur, LA

    A: Definitely maybe.

    If the lease automatically renews, that's a problem.

    Now in New York, they outlawed those clauses. The lease automatically goes month to month.
    But in LA, I don't know. You need to ask a local.

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    After I form an LLC, will it be necessary to rewrite the leases so the name of the LLC is on them ? Or am I protected by the LLC provided the rent checks are now written out to the LLC, instead of me personally ?

    Thank You -

    Tim F. , Schenectady, NY

    A: That's an easy one Tim. You do an assignment from the present landlord (you, I assume) to the LLC. You notify the tenant that you have assigned your rights to the rent to the LLC. When the lease expires, you amend it to change the name of the landlord to the LLC.

    There you go.

    Published 2016-08-11

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    I have tenants would be turning keys and move out by 08/14/16. Tenantsí last month rent was used and the landlord is holding one month of security deposit . However, he is not responding by email nor by call or text message for the time to turn keys. In this case, what should the landlord do? Can the landlord still go to the property on the 14th and change the lock? We have the proof of email that she stated to move out by 08/14/16 and their request to use the last month.

    Thanks you & Best regards,


    A: If they move out like they say, and you want to change the locks, that's fine. But if you go there on 8/15/16 and all their stuff is still there, you're on shaky ground, even with the e-mail. You can't move in until they're out. Got it?

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    Is it possible to change the date that rent is late from the 10th to the 5th prior to the expiration of the lease. Our lease says that rent is due on the 1st and late on the 10th. We would like to change the 10th to the 5th.
    Many Thanks,

    Debra King, Alabama

    A: You can always amend a lease. But an amendment has to be signed by both parties. You can't do it unilaterally mid-term.

    Will the tenants sign up for that?

    Published 2016-08-08

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    I have a tenant that sent me notice that he is moving out September 6th and to apply his security deposit as last months rent.
    Unfortunately I can not find the lease that I had signed with them and do not know if I have a leg to stand on without having the lease. I know that I gave them a copy, but can not find mine.
    So I have any recourse with this situation.

    Janet McKain

    A: Number one, don't worry about the lease. Your only options are to wait and see or evict now for non-payment.
    Its a tough call Janet. It depends on the tenant. Can you trust him? Or will he stab you in the back and make you evict anyway, except a month later.
    Pick your poison.

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    If a tenant is required to provide a 30 day notice in writing to vacate and does so but then vacates the apartment before the end of the 30 day time period, does the tenant forfeit their right to receive their security deposit back??

    Christine, Illinois

    A: Well that's the first time a landlord complained that the tenant left too soon, but 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 "forfeit" here, you're on thin ice.

    (Check out The LPA Lease)

    Published 2016-08-04

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    We have a warrant if eviction, stating tenant has to be out by July 31,2016 or she owes us $5100. Can she get an extension?

    Sebrina B., Long Island, Suffolk County

    A: Always.

    Published 2016-07-29

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    I have a 5 unit multi and recently had to hire an exterminator for a bed bug infestation. A tenant in the building wrote me a letter when I first purchased property a year ago admitting that it was because of his actions the bed bug infestation occurred. The tenant shared with me that because the washer and dryer were broken he was forced to do laundry at a local laundromat. The tenant stated that the use of public laundromat was the cause of the bed bug infestation in his apartment and subsequently spread to other units. He attempted to self remedy his unit with no success and ultimately reached out to me for help, way after the fact. I hired a professional exterminator at a cost of $4,200 to treat and then retreat building and subsequent inspection to verify.

    So, my question, do I have the right to bill my tenant for this expense? Via his own admission it was his actions that caused this bed bug concern. Your thoughts and perspective are greatly appreciated.

    Richard Schultz Ė Cleveland Ohio

    A: A lot depends on what your lease says. If the lease makes the tenants responsible for their own pest control, then you have a leg to stand on. Otherwise, probably not.

    Just because the tenant caused it, that doesn't necessary mean its his fault. The infestation wasn't intentional, obviously, and from what you say, doesn't even show a reckless disregard. It just happened.

    Stuff happens.

    Published 2016-07-22

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    This is rather involved but I'll try to condense as much as possible.
    I have a permitted "rec room" for my autistic son and later added a tub/shower in hopes someday he'd like to stay back there on his own.

    The woman who was to become his legal guardian when I died was about to be homeless so I allowed her to stay in the back rec room. She knew full well it wasn't legal and agreed to pay a stipend.† When she began taking advantage of my good nature I stopped allowing her usage of my washer/dryer, as they kept breaking and she offered no contribution to the repairs, and I changed the locks to my home so she had no access to my house. †I †then wrote a rental agreement from May, 2015 to May 2016 which she broke in Sept., 2015, the last month she gave me any money for anything.† She then reported to the Bldg. & Safety the illegal tub/shower so I had to comply and have it removed. She became belligerent, cops were called, she doused me with a hose and threatened me, cops called again.† She filed a case with the Rent Stabilization Board but it was closed and they said no relocation fees would be awarded at this time.† However, she refuses to move. We have no conversation. The last time we spoke she said she could be out in July but I had to comply with the City and remove the tub so I could get my permit for the rec room back, which happened. †

    She now has "strange" people coming and going at all hours of the day and night, leaves the side gate open when my son is playing in the backyard, blows her marijuana smoke out the door so he has to breathe it in and I'm a senior citizen, on 24/7 oxygen and can't handle that smell or smoke. †

    I want to serve her with an eviction and have no intention of paying relocation fees, especially since she's been living rent/utility free for almost 11 months now, but I was informed the wording cannot contain monies.† Safety would be one but what else can I put on an eviction and would a judge award her relocation fees even 'tho she hasn't paid a cent for all this time? †

    I live in Los Angeles, a tenant friendly CityÖ..I'm out of money and have no clue what to do at this point.† I just know I want her OUT and as soon as possible. †

    Any suggestions?
    Thank you for your time.

    Roni Perlut

    A: Your solution is with the rental agreement. She signed it, that makes her a rent paying tenant in default.

    Forget the pot. Forget the strangers and the washer. This is a nonpayment of rent eviction. Keep it simple.(KIS) = Keep it simple.

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    Is it legally sufficient to have a guarantor sign a guarantor form only, or is it better to have them co-sign the lease agreement as well? Thank you.

    Vicki Seabrook, New York

    A: Either way gets the job done, but the lease is intended to be signed by the tenants which means the occupants.

    Published 2016-07-21

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    I live in NJ and rent the 2nd floor apartment in my home (which I occupy the 1st floor). Tenant's one year lease expired Oct 31 2015 and I let it slide into month-to-month. Upon move-in she had 2 small dogs and 2 cats along with her daughter. She gave me 60 days notice on June 1, 2016 when she paid June's rent because she was buying a home (closing was set for June 30th). On July 7th she was mostly out of the apt.but not completely until July 10th. When I asked her about July's rent on July 5th she said she wasn't planning on paying. Upon walk thru of the unit with a realtor, I was told I needed to have the carpets professionally cleaned because the unit smelled of pet urine. I have her security deposit of 1 1/2 months' rent. Am I entitled to withhold July's rent since no definitive move-out date was stated in her notice to vacate along with cost to clean the apartment?
    Thank you in advance,

    Pat Paretti, Garfield, New Jersey

    A: 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 to deduct lost rent, you're on thin ice.

    Published 2016-07-13

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    I have a tenant in my coop who owes part of June and all of July rent. 2 days ago the hot water heater broke. I do not have the money to fix this and cover the bills without her rent. Her lease is up September 1st. I intended to let the bank foreclose on the property after her lease is up.
    Can I begin the foreclosure process now and not fix the hot water heater?
    Do I have to give her security back?
    Can I just sign off on the property?

    Kristen Dross from NY

    A: 1. No
    2. Maybe
    3. Ask the bank.

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    Quick question: if I am going to small claims court to file breach of lease and damages , do I add name of co signer to the case ? or file separately? The co signer lives in different county in NY.
    Also you represent in Westchester ? Thanks

    Lyn A., New York State

    A: Both tenants should be named, but in small claims, I don't think they'll allow it. The Court will probably tell you to sue other tenant separately in his County. :(

    Published 2016-07-12

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    I have tenants who are consistently late with rent. This month, they are not just late, but refuse to contact/talk with me at all about it.
    It's been 8 days thus far.
    I thought they had vacated property without†paying the†rent. I put a 24 hr. notice to enter property. I entered and some of their things were still there. The place was a disaster.

    † I left on the†floor inside of house by door, a three day or quit notice.
    I also told them I would deem the property 'abandoned if i didn't hear from them.

    If I don't hear from them within 3 days, what should I do?
    If it's deemed abandoned, what are my rights?

    Thanks so much for your help. †

    Sally Barrett, Eugene, Oregon

    A: I think you're okay. Sounds like they abandoned. Hold onto the junk in storage 'til the end of month. Let me know if they return.

    Published 2016-07-07

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    I have a situation,and need advise on which letter use.
    I have a tenant that it's months late. She lost her job. Do I send a late, breach of contract,and vacate to move letters?

    I do want her to move immediately.

    My second, can u garnish someone wages from work for back rent and what is that process??


    Jennifer Aaron LPA Member

    A: 1. You send a Three day Notice of Default. (Notice to Pay Rent or Quit)

    2. Do the eviction first. As part of that process you may get a money judgment you can use to garnish the wages.

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    We have a tenant whose lease is coming to an end. The other day, she said "I'm leaving, and this is my 30 days' notice." But, the lease clearly states, "If the Tenant decides not to renew the lease, Tenant must provide Thirty (30) daysí notice to the other party. Said 30 day period shall begin on the first day of the next ensuing rental month and NOT on the day upon which the termination notice is served upon the Landlord. The Tenant must continue to pay all Rent and Additional Rent during the thirty (30) day period prior to vacating the premises."

    So, she SHOULD pay until the end of August. What is our recourse if she leaves early and doesn't pay until then?

    J & L, Bethpage, NY

    A: Well technically they should have given notice prior to 7/1/16. SO when did she give it? You said "the other day".

    If you got it around 7/2, & you want to sue for August rent, the judge may say its a "nitpick" & not award you August. It's happened to me.

    Published 2016-07-06

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    I own a condo in Greenville, NC. The condo is managed by a property manager. In late April, I requested an on site visit of the unit with the property manager. When we entered the unit, I found that the unit was completely destroyed. Walls were filthy, ceiling fans were filthy, the carpets were completely destroyed and had to be removed, cigarette burns were in visible on a bathroom floor and walls, toilets were loose. The appliances are so filthy that they need to be replaced. The unit is loaded with insects. The tenant occupied this condo for four years. The property manager never indicated that there was a problem.

    There is approximately $14,000.00 of damage caused by the tenant. The property manager described the as "hard living". I have 100+ pictures of the filth and damage. I feel like the property manager did not perform his "fiduciary" responsibility to protect the property from waste and destruction.

    I feel that the property manager is responsible for the extensive damage that occurred as a result of not inspecting and actually managing the property on my behalf. He was negligent. I would like your opinion regarding suing the property manager to recover the cost of the damage from his liability insurance.

    Your comments will be sincerely appreciated.

    Best regards,

    Joseph O., CT / NC

    A: It's a tough case. You would need a written, signed contract between you and the PM where he accepts responsibility for making sure the tenants aren't slobs and generally maintain the unit. Preferably requiring scheduled periodic inspections. Even then, how are the cigarette burn's his (property manager's) fault?

    You could try it. To me, it sounds like throwing good money after bad. You won't likely get a lawyer to take this case on contingency. You'd have to pay upfront.

    Good luck!

    Published 2016-06-30

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    I have a tenant that signed a Lease on June 27 with a start date of July 1. He paid me first month rent and security deposit of $1350 and $1600 respectively. He called late the same night and said he wants to cancel the lease and will not be moving in.

    Can I keep is security deposit of $1600? The lease says he will receive a refund of sec deep if he fulfills the terms of the lease. He did not because he did not give me notice, etc. BUT he also did not move in yet. He was not given keys either. I will stay in the vacant unit until I find a tenant. So I guess I must refund the rent he paid. But can I keep the security deposit?

    I had to cancel my flight back home and had other expenses as well as a result of him canceling.

    Thank you,

    Tom Palmisano, Tennessee

    A: If you want to give him the rent & keep the security, that's not a bad settlement- but I personally think you can keep it all. He signed the lease- that's a contract. He breached it.

    Published 2016-06-29

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    We rent out the an apartment in our two family home in NYC, there are only two units so I believe it is non-regulated. The tenants moved in with one year lease 5 yrs ago, no renewal of lease was ever done. Recently there have been problems, and arguments with tenants, resulting in two complaint emails from them about dog poop in the backyard. My main question is, to get rid am I better off raising the rent substantially that they would not want to or be able to afford to stay, or simply issue a 30 day notice to vacate. Can they fight the 30 day notice to vacate because of the 2 complaint emails, I feel they are laying ground work with complaint emails in order to fight leaving(canít ask to vacate in retaliation). Can they fight rent increase?

    John, NYC

    A: Don't do the rent increase. That only complicates it. Just a 30 day Notice. Keep it simple. These e-mails don't amount to a hill of beans.

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    I'm writing you concerning attendant that I have.

    This tenant is claiming she has bedbugs. I have rented out this dwelling before and I never had a problem. The only problem I had was with fleas leave and we bomb for them and got rid of them. Another is headed moved in and he lived there for about 3 to 4 weeks he never complained of any bedbugs anything not even the even the fleas. This tenant moved in after the gentleman moved out and we also clean the place out do our regular bombings and everything. She moved in March 21, 2016, and now June 26, 2016 we heard about bedbugs. She accused me of moving her into an infested home with bedbugs. I immediately told her I nothing about no bedbugs but I did remind her about all that trash she had on the back deck and I kept telling her to get rid of it taken to dump you got a car and she never did. We know kills for snakes at her back deck. I did offer to go out and check the place out for myself and take care of the bedbug situation.

    I went out one day she wasn't home and she call me again on a Sunday and I told her I was out there she was not home. I offered to buy the stuff and get the place bombed out bedbug I told her at the same time they would have to remain out of the house for at least four hours or more and I will be there the first thing the next morning. I further told her that all food and everything will have to be secured and put away this is chemicals we will be using in this process all all food needs to be wrapped up and put away. The next morning I was calls and it was stated by her roommate she don't have time for that now, she has to fix her car. Space from then on I have not heard from this tenant until last night when the when the rent there was all this uproar about the bedbugs. The tenant never once told her mother that I offered to do it she declined wasn't there she decline she was there.

    In my lease it states any infestation must be taking care of the tenant. But I offered to help and what I received was her mother calling my cell phone calling me and every afterword and afterword and threatening to take me to court and telling me I would have to pay her daughter rent from the day she moved in.

    I would like your advice on this matter because I looked it up about bedbugs decay from anywhere anybody coming in your home staying in your home somebody sitting in your furniture.

    Please respond as soon as possible
    thank you

    Denise M.

    A: Well you offered to bomb and she blew you off, so, I don't know what her beef is.

    Also, is this a single house or an apartment in a multiple dwelling? That makes a big difference. In an apartment, its very hard to establish its the tenants fault. But if they're all alone there, where you never had bed bugs, they they brought them, obviously.

    Either way, you offered a treated, so you have fulfilled your landlord duty.

    Published 2016-06-28

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    If a tenant has told me they have a PFA on an ex and even gave me their photo to id them if they come around the rental property. Can I order that person off my property even without the tenant knowing? If I see him at her porch lurking around?

    Thank you

    Sylvia, New Castle, PA

    A: Call the cops. (Don't be a vigilante like Charles Bronson in Death Wish.)

    * PFA = (Protection from Abuse Order)

    Published 2016-06-24

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    I hired a property management co. one year ago and decided not to renew with them (they were slow in finding renters for my 2 units). I sign with new company. After old co. finds out I will not renew with them they QUICKLY find 2 renters before their contract is up and sign them up (without my knowledge or approval) for both of the units. Renter has credit score in 500's and co-renter is unemployed). They stop paying rent after 1 month.

    QUESTION isn't old property management company responsible for this situation? I may have to go to court to get them out. I say they failed to do their due dilgence. They also failed in their fiduciary duty. I'm also concerned people in other unit will stop paying also. It's clear they signed these people up just to collect their finders fee. Can I take legal action against old management company? I paid these people and it looks like they found anyone off the street, again just to collect finders fee. Look forward to hearing from you shortly.

    Albert Broussard, California,

    A: I feel your pain Albert. But it's a tough case. Why don't you sue for about $5000 in small claims? Only cost about $20 & no lawyer.

    Because if you have a lawyer for this, you could be throwing good money after bad. You have to prove your case. It's not a slam dunk- believe me.

    Published 2016-06-23

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    Unit was rented with One portable air conditioner unit in the living room .
    The tenant is asking (will send receipt for credit )for a unit for his kids bedroom as "it is not safe " due to extremely hot(temp 100+ today)

    Is Landlord responsible ?
    Thank you

    Angela A.

    A: No way Ray. Never seen it. Never heard of it.

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    Thanks for taking your time to provide this service. My name is Dave and I live in Georgia. I gave a tenant 30 days to move out and a few days before the time was up he asked if he could stay another month because he couldn't find a place he liked and because I had not found a new tenant I let him stay. Now this month is almost up and I found a new tenant but he will not leave and says I have to give a months notice again. I took his word and did not make a contract for the 1 month (my mistake) so I wanted to know If there is any way around this?

    Dave, GA

    A: If he stopped paying the rent- evict now for no pay.
    Otherwise, give him notice b/4 7/1 to leave 7/31. But if he doesn't pay rent on 7/1 then evict in July for no pay.
    Got it?

    Published 2016-06-20

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    I own two properties. I just need to know what is really considered wear and tear. My tenants think that anything it breaks or cracks in the house is wear and tear. I would love to discuss with her what reasonable wear and tear means. Please let me know.

    Sara in Florida

    A: According Black's Law Dictionary (i.e "the Bible") "Natural wear and tear" means "deterioration or depreciation in value by ordinary and reasonable use of the subject- matter." In my experience if something "breaks", that's not wear and tear.

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    Legal Disclaimer
    The Landlord Protection Agency's "Ask the Attorney" column is for informational 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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