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Ask the Eviction Attorney | Landlord Tenant Law Q&A

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 an LPA Landlord with a tenant problem you'd like to ask a question about, please 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 2019-03-21

Dear Mr. Reno:
Former tenants' security deposit did not cover full extent of damage. I sent a security settlement statement advising tenants of the balance due, and asking for payment within 15 days. Tenants sent immature responses, so I sent the Security Settlement Challenge Crusher in response. Tenants have not paid the balance, or responded back now for 6 weeks. The balance due is not enough for me to spend time with court costs and take off work to sue them for it, so I am inclined to not reach out to them for the balance due. Should I send another letter reminding them to pay, even if I have no plans to sue? Or would letting this go become a problem for me if they decide to sue me for the security deposit down the road?

Sugar M

A: They would have sued you by now, but one more letter won't hurt. Go for it.

Related Forms:

security settlement statement Security Settlement Statement
condition checklist Property Condition Report & Checklist
security deposit crusher Security Settlement Challenge Crusher

Published 2019-03-12

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a renter that is approx.. 75 days away from lease expiration. In recent talks they expressed wanting to renew so I sent them the paperwork at the beginning of March. Over the last couple weeks they have they have become "combative" in arguing inspection reports, language in the lease, mildly rude text messages and lose demands on changing the terms of the lease. I am not feeling comfortable about future business with them but I have already verbally agreed to allow them to renew the lease. I haven't got any paperwork back from them yet.

Given the previous conversation and timeframe, am I within my legal rights to withdraw my previous verbal offer and chose NOT to renew with them?
Thanks for your time,

Evan, Apple Valley, Minnesota

A: Even if a verbal agreement could be enforced (which I doubt legally that it could), this lease is under negotiation, which means there is NO AGREEMENT on terms and language. So if you want to walk like Trump in N. Korea, you're cleared for take off.

Related forms:
Notice to Terminate Tenancy or a Non-Renewal Notice.

Also, check your state's minimum notice period before sending a notice.

Published 2019-02-06

Dear Mr. Reno:
You probably have answered this in the past, so feel free to send me the link to your answer. I have a tenant that signed a year lease with me here in florida and after 2 months just moved out...they claimed their family was in danger...HE was constantly gone on his job...she claimed she smelled smoke and that there was an electrical issue...My answer to her was to call the electrical provider to determine what the issue is. They came out and said they didn't see any issue. She then called Code Compliance and claimed the roof was leaking and there was mold in the house...they couldn't find anything when they went out...but these tenants without PUTTING me on notice moved out. They did not use the last month rent they had on deposit and I do have a deposit and non-refundable cleaning fee. The lease they signed said NO Pets and I found out they had 4 dogs there from others in the area...not to mention the mess and stench left at the house from the pets.

I use the LPA lease which requires written notice and I do not allow someone to break a lease. BTW, they talked to my tenant next door and she said they were planning to move to Georgia as his company has plenty of work for him there...he was IN Georgia at the time and was there the entire month of December...The move out was in January 2019. The move-in was Nov 1st 2018. They refused to speak with me and even called the sheriff when I went out there to find out what was going on.

Can I go after these people for the rent since they just walked away ...and the damages they caused if it exceeds what I have on deposit for them?
Thanks in advance.
My Best wishes for you,

Cheryl Kissell, FL

A: Yes, you can go after them, if you can find them. After you rerent, you sue for lost rent & damages. But such a course is an investment of time & money with no guarantees.

You may want to use the LPA's tenant reporting options which have been known to get results when the credit report is threatened.

Delinquent Rent - Bad Debt Collection Reporting to Credit Bureau

Published 2019-01-29

Dear Mr. Reno:
I own a house in Queens NY that is rented. There is a lease agreement with my tennants which has a early termination clause by way of an addendum of a 60 day notice condition. It states that this can be effected by either party. Is this enforceable in NYC?
Thanks in advance for your advice

George Bramwell, Queens NY

A: Yes. If the lease clearly states that either party can terminate on 60 days notice that is enforceable. Your only problem is the NYC Housing Court is very "pro tenant" and if their rent is current your eviction will probably take several months.

Published 2019-01-15

Dear Mr. Reno:
Departing tenants caused excessive wear and tear to the hardwood floors, which I can document with before/after photographs and video. The floors were 11 years old when they moved in, and in 1 year, their dogs caused excessive gouging/scratches to the floors--primarily on one level of the house, and the stairs. Cost to refinish the floors is more than their pet and security deposits. I'm trying to determine what's reasonable because the floors were not brand new when they moved in, and I will not refinish the floors until I put the property for sale. I have a proposal from a reputable wood re-finisher which divides up charges for each level of the house and the stairs. I thought charging 100% for the stairs as they were in excellent condition before, and 50% for the level with the most scratches would be the way to go. I would eat the cost for the resurfacing the other level, which has what I'd call normal wear and tear from their tenancy. What do you suggest as a fair/reasonable way to charge for the excessive wear and tear to the floors?


A: I would say whatever the cost is ask them to pay half (but if it goes to court, you're for suing the whole thing.)

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am a landlord in Northern NJ and I am currently seeking an experienced landlord attorney specifically in Northern Nj. I am located in Bergen county. I am seeking an attorney who has experienced evicting bad tenants .
I have a tenant their lease expires on July 31 2019, who are been constantly violating the lease term and condition and have also endanger our lives by causing fire, vandalism of property, unsupervised children who throws object at incoming traffic, screen all thrown out , and many other damages and violations. The Tenant pays on time .
The tenant has been warned multiple times through text and email they would stop for few days but then restart all over again. They have also prevented inspection and repairs even after 4 days notification and they have brought their cult members to threaten and obstruct repair work and inspection.

This is a 2 family owner occupied NJ, I live on one and rent the other.
I am really concerned .I look forward to hearing from you soon. and thank you in advance
Kind Regards

Kaiser, NJ

A: The hardest thing to do in landlord court is to evict a tenant who's current. Your best bet is to advise them of your issues and that their lease will not be renewed if they don't clean up their act. If that doesn't work, well, July will be here before you know it.

Published 2018-12-19

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am the landlord/owner of a (quiet, with professionals) multifamily in Montclair NJ. I live on the third flr and have engaged a local realtor to find a tenant for the second flr.

My question: If the realtor finds a person or couple that they believe is suitable and passes a background/credit report, if I believe the renter(s) are unsuitable to rent in this location, how much leeway do I have to credibly reject the tenant(s). Specifically I have two guys in their early 20s that are interested in the apartment. They are single. I have a quiet house with a quiet 1st and 3rd flr (me) apts. If these fellows want to party and are not quiet (in this 100 year house where there is not a great amount of sound isolation), I am afraid that I will again lose my good 1st flr tenants. Really I am looking for quiet professionals but cannot advertise that. Any advice? Thanks!

Dave, NJ

A: You're a little out of my area. I'm that "who do you want kicked out lawyer" not the "who do we let in lawyer", but in general, you have race, religion, sex, natural origin, etc. These are the unlawful discrimination categories. Otherwise, you're okay.

See LANDLORD SPECIAL REPORT: 3 Easy Ways to Reject a Tenant Applicant

Published 2018-12-17

Dear Mr. Reno:
We recently had tenants sign a rental agreement and give their nonrefundable deposit to move in on December 15, 2018. A week went by and they have advised us that their house fell through and they need to cancel the rental agreement and want their deposit back. Can you please let me know if we are legally to give them back their deposit in whole or in part and what would be reasonable. If you could respond as soon as possible, I would really appreciate it, as they want their deposit back now and time is of the essence.

Thank you for your help

Tracy Duncan, California

A: I get this question all the time, and I can never give a good answer because there are so many variables. It's very frustrating. Here's what I mean:

What was signed? Anything? All verbal? Got lease? Signed? What about the deposit? Give a receipt? What does that say? Does it say non-refundable? Is there any documentation at all where you specified what would happen if the tenant backed out?

Otherwise, it's a crap shoot (am I allowed say that?) Offer half.

Published 2018-12-10

Dear Mr. Reno:

I have an 8 unit property in Santa Monica.
We have rent control.
I just went through a rent decrease petition hearing in which the hearing officer awarded the tenant $50 per month rent reduction. $30 for not having green grass (Turf).
$20 for not having a cleaning service in the laundry room.

Why I am asking you instead of my local advisers:
While my local apartment association is active; I feel my apartment association has taken a non activist role in defending local landlords from the unlawful practices of the rent control department.
(for example, the board of directors made a backroom deal not to oppose the rent control department following position: "landlords should not be allowed to pass through Add On Taxes (to the Property Tax )").

Both of the decisions should be barred because of the preemptive clause.
In California, only 16+ units require an onsite manager. The decision in this hearing is basically punishing me for not having an onsite manager.
Santa Monica has a Turf Reduction policy. In addition, the hearing officer acknowledged that there is no sprinkler system when the tenant moved in so the tenant is not entitled to that amenity.

Finally the most serious point for me is that I was discriminated against during the Hearing. The Hearing officer did not allow my witness to testify because the same witness was assisting me during the hearing proceedings. I have a disability related to Diabetes and my mom passed away in July. The hearing was conducted in August.

I needed an assistant because of emotional and physical support.

First, what are your thoughts?
Second, my main question is: As a pro-LL activist, do you see justification to sue the city or should I give up?

I have talked to several lawyers; and most of them say it is easier to comply than to fight it in court. However, that all depends on the departments willingness to let go of a levy on a landlord. I do have a compliance request already filed; but it may cost as much as legal fees to get the compliance approved than it would be to sue the city for the ADA and state violations.

Daniel Davidsohn

A: Don't you know " you can't fight City Hall"? Because they're all in cahoots (Did I Spell that right?) The Judge when you get to Court will be the hearing officer's father-in-law.

Also, the rent control department are appointees of elected officials. So she Court's say, if you don't like what they do, elect different people.

It's a no win situation.

Published 2018-11-27

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a month to month tenant that was evacuated because of the wildfire in N. California.
sheís been displaced staying with friends for two weeks.
Her renterís agreement states that she must have renters ins.
She is wanting me to refund her rent for when she was displaced & her security deposit immediately.
She says she will move, but hasnít given me notice or a date.
I need advice on how to proceed with this. Thanks.

Rebecka Zahnd - California

A: So, your position is that even though she was evacuated, she should still pay? How does that work?

Now let's talk about renter's insurance. I thought that's just for property loss. You're thinking her renter's insurance would reimburse her for paying you rent while she's evacuated. I never heard of it.

The security deposit issue depends on if and when she can move back. Is she cleared to move back in? If not, are we talking days, weeks, years? You don't have to agree to cancel for a "temporary" displacement. But at some point- you'll have to part ways.

Published 2018-11-20

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a tenant that has delivered to me a letter from a therapist. The therapist states that in her opinion my tenant meets the definition of disabled under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The letter also states that the therapist is recommending an emotional support animal. The lease my tenant signed has a no pets section. What are my options, if any?

Also, if I am required to allow the emotional support animal/pet in the unit, what requirements are there to inform the other tenants? Thanks

Russ, Minnesota

A: I'm seeing these more and more for "emotional" support which now means any nut job can have one. If she gets the emotional support animal officially it's a done deal. You do not get a vote or have standing to object.

A formal notice (letter) to the other tenants would be advisable.

Published 2018-11-14

Dear Mr. Reno:
Can I start a small claims proceeding for past due rent from a tenant while we are on Eviction proceedings?

**Note, the tenant did not answer the petition and a default judgement has been made against her. A warrant request has been made.
County: Bronx County
Thank you

Bibi, NY

A: You can't sue for the same past due rent but some landlords sue in small claims for additional rent due which was not included in the eviction.

Published 2018-11-08

Dear Mr. Reno:
We have a tenant who is active duty military. We received applications for a rental online from him and his spouse. He was deployed at the time of application and lease signing. The lease took effect 6/5/18. He returned from deployment 6/26/18 and has been living in the unit since then.
On 10/15/18 he contacted our office saying he was getting divorced, his wife had moved out and he wanted out of the lease. We informed him of the clause in our lease regarding breaking the lease. His wife just called and said he is claiming her POA had been revoked and she had forged his signature on both documents. Since he has lived in the unit since the end of June, does he have any legal standing to get out of the lease?
Thank you for your time.


A: He has no right to break the lease but you should let him out of because of his military status. You get into it with him & he stops paying & if you have to evict "Soldier boy" you're in for 40 miles of rough road.

Published 2018-10-29

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am a commercial warehouse landlord in Kent, WA state, we also have damages from (2) Tenants. Should I just file an insurance claim? Could I hire you to guide me pro se?

I sent my lease to John @ the Landlord Protection Agency, I'm sure he would share it with you. Thank you!

Margaret, WA

A: If you think your insurance may cover this (I really doubt it) but file the claim before you miss some notice deadline. Worse thing is, they say no.

Also, notify tenants to repair the damage, or they'll be in default.
Let's see what happens.

Published 2018-10-22

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a tenant who is moving out under less than favorable conditions. Her friend has asked to rent the apartment. My concern is some form of retribution from the former tenant should she come visit the new tenant. Is it legal to ban a formed tenant from visiting one of my rentals.And stating so in the lease. I believe this interested party is highly qualified to rent.

T. Frost Schenectady, NY

A: That's not allowed in NY. You can put it in the lease, that's not a crime, but no court will enforce that restriction.

Published 2018-10-19

Dear Mr. Reno:
Fail to vacate left on tenants door with attached letter reads as-I will not be accepting these attached payments or any future rent payments.You have 10days to vacate this property.Fail to comtply will result in the criminal charge fail to vacate.

Today the Sheriff served him with the criminal citation fail to vacate and a court date.

This tenant seems to think he he will win in court because I gave his rent back & refused this months payment.
Am I missing something?
A month to month tenant can be evicted without reason.This is Arkansas law

Angel Martin in Arkansas: Manager

A: Now what the heck is this all about? Criminal charges? Say what?

Question: If you wanted him out, should you have given a 30 day notice? Ten if no pay. Thirty to terminate? (need more info.)

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am a landlord in Colorado. My new tenant moved in and I noticed damages to my unit and the common area of the building. The tenant told me that the furniture movers had caused the damage and would be back to make repairs. I don't expect the movers to make repairs since it has been several weeks since the damage occurred. How do I get the repairs completed and paid for? I would prefer not to deduct from the security deposit since that may be needed for damages at end of lease.

Marty Wilczewski, CO

A: You can probably stop waiting for them. Start getting estimates. When you decide how much, prepare a payment schedule.

If no dice, there's always small claims court.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I'm trying to help my 97-year old mother. She owns a piece of land and mobile home in Reno. In 2014 she created a Lease with Purchase Option with her tenants which matures in 2020. The tenants have defaulted on rent many times and are now over two months behind as well as being behind on utilities and taxes. They are telling lies and causing other issues. Can you give me advice on how my mom can break this purchase option legally and remove these tenants? We've been told that if the tenant fights the eviction process, she would probably win.

I've also been told laws are different when a manufactured house is involved.

Kind regards,

Rita P.,

A: Yes, the tenants will win if THEY PAY! You need to start a no-pay eviction.

If they cough it up, they're there until 2020. Why a homeowner of a residential would give a multi-year lease I will never understand.

Published 2018-10-10

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a former tenant (month to month) who did NOT give 30 day notice she was vacating, so I kept the deposit, she is now threatening to sue me. Wasn't this correct? The Property Code says she actually owes MORE- see below and thank you

Sec. 91.001. NOTICE FOR TERMINATING CERTAIN TENANCIES. (a) A monthly tenancy or a tenancy from month to month may be terminated by the tenant or the landlord giving notice of termination to the other.
(b) If a notice of termination is given under Subsection (a) and if the rent-paying period is at least one month, the tenancy terminates on whichever of the following days is the later:
(1) the day given in the notice for termination; or
(2) one month after the day on which the notice is given.

Lyla Davis, Texas

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 security to pay for breaking the lease, you're on thin ice.

Published 2018-10-01

Dear Mr. Reno:
First of all thank you for taking the time to provide us Landlords with your advice!

Here are some facts leading to my question about a lease violation and whether a penalty would hold:

(1) Tenant's 1 yr. lease will be expiring 10/31/2018. In the lease it states that it is required for the tenant to have Renter's Insurance within 14 days of moving in. In the case of violation, Owner may issue a Notice of Lease Violation and obtain insurance on the tenant's behalf at the tenant's expense. In the event a written Notice of Lease Violation is issued...tenant shall correct within 5 days...If tenant fails to correct violation, they will be responsible for a Lease Violation Penalty Fee in accordance with another section where I defined the lease violation penalty fee for uncorrected lease violation to be $500 per month until corrected.

(2) I have constantly through the year have asked the tenant for proof of insurance and nothing. I issued the Notice of Lease violation back in March 2018, sent emails, and nothing. Up this point I have never received proof that she has renters insurance.

Question: Can I legally apply this rule and charge the security deposit according to what the lease says. This would mean $500 x 12 months (above the security deposit). In my opinion this is not reasonable. I would be happy if I could at least just charge a one time fee of $500 but I don't even know if this would hold in court if it came to that.

Jorge Pena, MD

A: It's up to the Judge. Sometimes they follow the lease, but sometimes they don't like these penalty clauses. Especially where there's no direct damage to you.

One per month would definitely be deemed excessive. One per year, maybe, but what, you'll go to small claims court? Over this?

Why don't you tell them if they don't get the insurance, their lease will not be renewed? That might wake her up.

Published 2018-09-24

Dear Mr. Reno:
Question: There is what we consider a squatter in our rental house. The Judge considers him a tenant because he moved in and had the electric and water turned on in his name, unauthorized. We were told to go through the eviction process as if he was a tenant, which we did. At Court, the defendant lied under oath saying that he paid rent and did repairs to the house. He had no proof. He also said it was dangerous for him and his 3 babies to live there because the electrical breaker would sometimes shut off. The Judge ruled in his favor and said he could live there for the rest of his life if he chose to do so.

Can we move into our own house to do needed repairs while the squatter is there?

Thank you ever SO much!

Jacqueline, Texas

A: The judge said what? This is the most bizarre thing I've heard (this week.)

So he said he pair rent. So he's a tenant- with no lease. He gets a 30 day notice- then back to court.

Published 2018-09-10

Dear Mr. Reno:
Good Morning!
I have two tenants in a building that do not get along.
The downstairs tenant has complained about noise from Day 1. She is currently in a 12 month lease until January 2019. I have offered to move her to another building, break her lease without prejudice, waive her necessity to give notice, but she refuses to move and instead complains at least once a month. The police have been called numerous times. She is currently pressing me for their contact information so she can file a civil suit.

The upstairs tenant has been with us for more than 5 years. He is currently in a month to month lease. He has been spoken to about the noise (which we have never received complaints about before). He has not complained to me at all but I believe he has initiated calls to the police at times when the verbal arguments escalate. I recently had a rather abusive conversation with a "friend" of his that blames me for the situation and feels that I am not acting to protect them and evict the tenant downstairs.

Can I evict both of them? It is not a monetary issue, which is the only type of situation I have had to evict under.
If I am able to evict, how much notice would it require?
I have attached a sample of our lease agreement for reference.
Thank You!

Jane Collins - North Carolina

A: Sounds to me like the downstairs tenant is the fly in the ointment. You're stuck with her until January.

Upstairs guy gets a 30 day notice to vacate (some states require 60- so check that). It sounds like he is a victim of a very fussy, demanding person downstairs. (Why can't we all just get along?)

Published 2018-09-05

Dear Mr. Reno:
Unit is in Los Angeles. Renter permanently stain 14 year old carpet. I have before and after photos to prove the renter damaged the carpet. Can I keep the full security deposit? Or due to the age of the carpet, do I have to give some or all of the $2,300 deposit back? Replacement will cost more. Thank you,

Dawn, CA

A: Usually a paid bill does the trick. So if you replace the rug- or pay to clean it, you can deduct. Otherwise, not so much.

Published 2018-09-04

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a disruptive tenant that owns his own mobile home in my park, he is arguing with the neighbors and causing so much grief I am risk of loosing 2-3 of my tenants. He has been accused of a lot of things but there is no proof. He is not behind in rent but has been late 2 times. Is there any basis or a way that he can be evicted. Also he currently does not have a lease, but again he owns the trailer and just pays lot rent.

Thank You,

Mark F., Oneonta, NY

A: He needs a Thirty days notice to vacate. (Another softball knocked out of the park.)

Published 2018-08-28

Dear Mr. Reno:
I own a non owner-occupied triple decker. Recently, one of my tenants told me that he is noticing high volume traffic (men coming in and out of one of the apartments) at odd hours (1am, 2am, 4am, etc.). The apartment is leased to one man who is a "tenant at will" and he has a roommate. Do you have any suggestions on how to approach the traffic issue?

Kind regards,

Judy Bayog

Judith Bayog, Boston, MA

A: So we're talking drugs, I assume, start with a letter. They should be made aware that the traffic is unacceptable- and if it doesn't stop, they will get a Notice to Vacate.

Probably end up going that route anyway.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I got your info online and seem to me you are an experience attorney dealing with eviction related to rent stabilized tenant. I am a home owner and please read below. This is in Queens County.

Here is my situation:
I bought this 2 family house from a bank with an elderly lady living there. Later on I found out the house used to be garden community and she is rent stabilized tenant.

At some point, I went to the housing office and wanted to find out more about it. Housing authority initially verdict that this not a rent stabilized apartment but later when she appealed with her docs and rent history where she had been living in the apartment since 1967 and at that point it used be part of garden community housing and later in 1980s, it has been converted to many 2 family houses.

As she had been living there since 1967, prior to 1969 based date, she is entitled to live as rent stabilized tenant.

She move out on November of 2015 on her own due to some health reason and I thought my apartment is a regular apartment and I rented the apartment to a lady for a year lease as a regular apartment for 1800 per month.
This new lady, caused me lot of headache. She moved in the apartment giving me security deposit check with closed bank account and continued to live. Long story short, I acted little naive and she continue to live in the apartment and owing me more and more money towards rent as time passed. Also sublet my apartment. Last time she paid me 1000 on November 17th, 2017.

Finally I started eviction process in March of 2018 and while knowing that my apartment is a regular apartment. Finally her attorney, show Cause, last week, August 17th that my apartment is rent stabilized
According to the contract, the lady owe me over 22000.00(22K).

What is my option? Can I evict her regardless of my apartment being rent stabilized or not?
Also can I deregulate this apartment? I believe some rules like that exist for condo/coop.

Please let me know if you can help me. I am not familiar with the terms and rules related to this at all.



A: That's way out of my area, sorry Kazi. I am actually not a rent stabilized lawyer.

You really need an expert for this. You want to "deregulate". That's a tall order. Good luck with that!

Dear Mr. Reno:
Scenario: Garage door replacement.
Old door had functioning garage door opener and opener was already present when tenant moved in. Landlord replaces old garage door with a new door, removes the old garage door opener, and does not provide a new garage door opener.
Tenant is complaining. Is landlord obliged to re-install a garage door opener?
There is no appliance list nor mention of the garage door opener in the lease agreement.
Thank you.

John Charles, California

A: You don't have to, but maybe you should?

I don't see anything the tenant can do. They wouldn't be able to withhold rent on that, or if so, only a minute portion (less than 5%). So there's not much your tenant can do to compel you.

But you're going to have an unhappy tenant.

Published 2018-08-03

Dear Mr. Reno:
Tenant eviction was completed with Sheriff Lock out. We began the process of a HORRIBLE mess left behind. Tenant has come back into the property after locks changed (broke in). Tenant claims she has 72 hours to recover her belongings. Some have been removed due to horrible odor and 4 cats left in the unit. What legal rights do we have and herself.
Thank you!!!

Shirley Patee, California, Property Manager - Preferred Rental Properties

A: Call the cops. Tenant not allowed back in house after Sheriff Lock out. That would be criminal trespass.

Published 2018-08-02

Dear Mr. Reno:
This is an issue that I have never had before.... Tenant died in the house. We found him when the family came to do a welfare check. He was the only person on the lease. No will. Rent was paid for that month and lease was is up at the end of that month. Family wants to get in and start selling, no probate since they cannot find the will. How would anyone respond to this? I am in Ohio just a FYI since I know laws vary from state to state.

Jeni S., OH

A: Without probate court- the kinfolk have no rights. But let me make a suggestion:

Let them take what they want. If they'll clean out the place, they're doing you a big favor. You can wait for the Court to appoint an Executor- but that could take months.

There's a legal way to do this. And then there's an easy way. Take your pick.

Published 2018-08-01

Dear Mr. Reno:
We live in Washington and have rentals in Texas. One of the houses was vacant and a person moved in on their own, without permission, etc. He called and put the water & electric in his name, so I know his name. He has been there at least 2 months. We had another tenant of ours post a 3-day notice on his door. Nothing, of course since he knows we live in WA.

My question is, can we fly to Texas, let ourselves into our own house and stay in our own house in order to get rid of this trespasser? Can we legally move their stuff out?
Thank you,

Jacqueline J., TX

A: The answer to the Second question is definitely not- but the answer to the first question is definitely maybe. I say that because there's nothing stopping you from moving in until the police come. What will they do? Can't say. Depends on who pulls up. These cops don't know the law. They make it up as they go. Can't predict.

Published 2018-07-27

Dear Mr. Reno:
Is there any discrimination law that would force me to rent to a felon?

Randy H., Nebraska

A: Nope. Check the Fair Housing Act. Race, color, creed, etc., you know the list. Criminal records is not on the list. It's only unlawful if the basis of the discrimination is against a suspect classification. (Some states have added sexual orientation to their list.)

Published 2018-07-23

Dear Mr. Reno:
Question: good idea or bad idea to have a paragraph in your lease (and if so, wording) regarding what liability the landlord has, if the tenant is displaced and must find temporary accommodations.

(background; duplex, 95-year-old "soil" pipe breaks between floors. 2 tenants need to find "other" living space for 10 days (each) while repairs and remediations are done. Insurance covers lost rent only - putting tenants up in temp housing FAR exceeds lost rent)

Bill Hamberg, Pennsylvania

A: "The Landlord will not be responsible for hotel/motel expenses or other accommodation fees during periods of fourteen days or less when repairs or remediations are being done. The landlord will take all steps to affect said repairs or remediations expeditiously. "

Landlord Tip: You may want to use and enforce the LPA Lease Clause on Renter's Insurance.

Published 2018-07-10

Dear Mr. Reno:
My brother-in-law had his home foreclosed on 5 years ago. He and his family moved in with my father-in-law so he could get ďback on his feetĒ. My father-in-law had remarried and moved out, with the understanding that his son make the mortgage payment while they got in better financial shape. He even asked for a rent amount lower than the mortgage once he saw that the mortgage payment could not be met. 5 years later, no rent has been paid. My father-in-law has tried to have them work with a realtor to sell his home, and did not receive the necessary cooperation. He has told them they need to leave, and still they remain. He actually tried moving back into his home, and after much family drama left again as it is not conducive to his health. He has lived with my husband and I for the last year, and has decided to more aggressively attempt to reclaim his house. Can we follow the normal eviction process or does the uniqueness of this situation require additional measures?

Sheelah, NC

A: So the problem is he would be evicting his son, which is sometimes allowed and sometimes not. He should try it anyway in eviction court- see how far he gets. There is something called the "family exception" that may interfere- but may not, so it depends on various circumstances.

Published 2018-07-01

Dear Mr. Reno:
We signed a Kansas Lease-Rental Agreement for the first time with S----- with the terms June 1st, 2013 to May 27, 2014. Each April every year since, we send a notice to vacate or re-new lease. We ask that the tenant return the notice by April 27th to give us plenty of time to prepare if they are not going to re-new. S---- was always timely , 4/5/2014, 4/9/2015, 4/15/2016, 4/6/2017, 4/25/2018. S----- called me on or about 4/25/2018 and asked if he could rent month to month as he was actively looking to buy a home. I told him that we did not do month to month leases. He asked what he was suppose to do and I told him that I did not know because we did not do month to month leases. He asked me if I would be willing to work with him seeing that he had been a good tenant. I told him that we would work with him, but that we would need plenty of advance notice and that it would have to work for both of us. I told him that he could not buy a house one month and then tell us he would be out the next. He agreed that he would not do this. On the bottom of his signed Notice to Vacate or Re-New Lease, he printed "As per my conversation with Diane a few days back, we are actively looking for a house to buy. We will give you advance notice upon purchasing our new home. Thank you. S----- would be July.
I told him congratulations on his new home, but that he would need to pay August rent as well. He stated that he had given plenty of notice. When I reminded him of saying that it had to work for both parties involved I was told that my problems were not his concern. A certified letter with signature confirmation arrived for me to pick up at the Post Office on 6/26/2018. The letter was dated 6/21/2018 and this is what it said:

Dear Diane and Kirk, Please accept this letter as a written notice of my intention to vacate above mentioned rental property on or before July 27, 2018. Per the lease agreement, this letter fulfills the 30 day notice requirement. Please find a rent check in the amount of $900 for the month of July 2018. I will be contacting you to schedule a move-out walk through inspection once we have vacated the house. I truly believe that the house is in excellent condition ad my security deposit of $885 should be refunded in full. Thank you for your time and consideration on the above matter. Sincerely, S-----

My question is, can we hold him accountable to fulfill the entire 12 month lease agreement or do we have to let him out with July being the last paid month? We thought that we were being very generous asking that he pay August 2018 rent and that we would let him out of the remaining lease which ends on May 27, 2019.
Thank you,

Diane N. - Kansas

A: After you rerent, go to small claims for your lost rent.

Published 2018-06-28

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have two tenants who have consistently been late on the rent. I have filed eviction at least 5 times for the non-payment of rent at our County Courthouse and every time they have settled prior to court. we are coming up to the 3rd year now and my question is, for constantly not paying the rent on time, can that be grounds for not renewing their lease?

They say they "know their rights" and will fight me. They notified me by mail they expect to renew their lease. I do not wish to renew their lease. I'm afraid if I tell them I don't want to renew, I'll never see another dime in rent. Thank you in advance for any advice.

Kathleen, Rhode Island

A: So don't renew it. No one has a gun to your head. Before the lease expires, give them notice to vacate. Problem solved.

Just be sure to give proper Notice to Terminate Tenancy or a Non-Renewal Notice.

Check your state's minimum notice period before sending a notice.

Dear Mr. Reno:
We had a judgment on our former tenant. He agreed to pay many months of unpaid rent, then he went and filed chapter 7 bankruptcy. Do we have any chance of collecting legally? Your site has been an absolute godsend. Thank you!

Debra and Alan B., Georgia

A: Call the Bankruptcy Court and ask if your Judgment was "Discharged." If it was, it's done.

If not discharged, call me back.

Published 2018-05-31

Dear Mr. Reno:
I need some advice before I file in district court for either nonpayment of rent or breach of lease, or both. I really need to know the legality of fees I charged in trying to get my tenant to pay their rent.

My lease stated that if they donít pay within 7 days of the due date I can charge a fee of 500 or $25 per day up to 500 but I am not sure if Md law would prohibit this since they say that "late fees" can not be more than 5 percent of the monthly rent payment which is $1900. My lease states that I can charge $25 per day late fee and also as a breach of lease fee.

I also need to know if I should file for both breach of lease ( many reasons including non payment, no submission of rental insurance, an extra tenant in the house etc) and failure to pay or just one. Today is the 29th and I have not received a dime for may rent. They paid April rent on May 1st , including $50 late fees and 400 in additional fees for non-payment after 7 days( breach of lease clause in my lease again says I can charge up top $500 but not sure if legally sound).

Thank you for any help you can give.


Brooke, MD

A: My home state of New York is similar. I know its in the LPA lease; I've seen it collected often, but not in Court. In Court it wont fly if they consider it "punitive".

As far as the grounds for the eviction, it's all about nonpayment. The other issues won't come in.

LPA note: You can look up your state's Late Fee Limits and other details at State Lease, Security Deposit Limits, Late Fees, Notice Periods

Published 2018-05-23

Dear Mr. Reno:
My name is Isabel Pinyas and Iím the landlord of a house in Portland, Oregon. Last September I leased the house for two years and before entering into the contract I informed the tenant, Michelle, that I would be in Spain for one year. The tenant agreed and understood that this might make communication and any repairs needed a bit more cumbersome, taking more time.

This February I got a letter from her, giving me a 30 day notice because she had gotten the opportunity to travel in Central America. She broke the lease. The tenant helped find a new tenant who started renting April 1st. (The new tenant hasnít moved in yet but is paying the rent.) The last time I had contact with Michelle was before she did the walkthrough in the middle of March. She did not leave me a forwarding address.

The move-out process, walkthrough, cleaning and repairs have taken longer than 31 days. I have people working for me but communication is difficult mainly due to the 9 hours time difference.

The tenant left a piece of furniture and a boat at the house which she didnít pick up until the 5th of May.

The tenant damaged the hardwood floor which a contractor has tried to repair without success. It seems it will have to be refinished. All this means that I havenít met the OR 31 day deadline to return or give an account of the security deposit which is $2,200.

A week ago I received a letter from a lawyer representing my tenant. Heís asking for double the deposit money (security plus $200 cleaning) or $4,800 plus $500 for his fee. He threatens to go to court if I donít do so, in which case he says Iíll have to pay court fees, etc.

My questions are:

1. Does Michelle, the tenant, have any legal right to demand double the security deposit and double the cleaning deposit even though she left her property at the house until May?

2. Even though she accepted the lease knowing that I would be out of the country for a year?

2. The cost of repairing the wood floor will probably be more than $2,400. If she does have the right to receive double the security deposit, is this after Iíve deducted the repair and cleaning costs?

Thank you very much for your advice.

Isabel P., OR

A: 1. Yes because you didn't follow procedure.

2. Yes.

3. Sorry. Too late.

Suggestion: Offer $2200.

Published 2018-05-22

Dear Mr. Reno:
My question - I use LPA version of Lease for SFH rental

(Safety issue, possible electrical fire) What should and can LL do when T use interior power cord and wire outdoor and 2 smoke detectors sitting on the carpet?


-Ann, S., LPA member, Virginia

A: Give me the status of the lease. Almost up? Month to Month?

It's time for a talk with these tenants. Already tried that? Letter from Lawyer?

You probably don't have grounds to break the lease, but you're under no obligation to renew it & the tenant needs to know that.

Last resort: Fire Marshall, but beware, you could be putting a noose around your own neck if you go there.

Published 2018-05-14

Dear Mr. Reno:
My question is about weed, pot, cannabis or marijuana
With all the states legalizing the use for personal or medical, I need to include a clause in my lease prohibiting it on my property. Just looking for some help with the wording. I donít want to have to rely on the anti-drug/crime portion of my lease. I did not see anything on the LPA rental agreement.

It has been suggested to me that because marijuana is not legal federally, I might be able to rely on clauses prohibiting behavior unlawful under state and federal law or an anti-drug policy in my lease.
Any help will be greatly appreciated.

Claire, Rhode Island AND Massachusetts.

A: Why be so obtuse? Just say it. The smoking or use of marijuana, cannibis or hashes absent medical authorization is strictly prohibited by this lease. In the event this provision is violated, the landlord will be authorized to terminate this lease.

(You can add this to your LPA Lease's No Smoking Clause if you like)

Published 2018-05-08

Dear Mr. Reno:
I sold a single residence home to a couple who said they were married. It turns out they were divorced & are consistently late with the monthly mortgage, they have not paid the 2017 RE taxes or the MUD taxes or the HOA dues. They also cancelled their Home Owners Insurance. Can they be sued for fraud?

Mr. Renner

A: Probably not for fraud because whether they were married or divorced would not be viewed by a court material (important) aspect of the transaction. The other breaches occurred after the fact and therefore aren't fraud in the inducement just general badness.

Dear Mr. Reno:
Iím in Southern California.
Tenant gave 30 day notice (30 March) after he already left property (unsure of date as I was out of state) leaving personal property behind. He returned on April 8th to completely vacate and turn in keys. Rent was paid for April via direct deposit into my bank account. I was able to find someone to move in at the last minute (April 10th).
May I keep entire monthís rent of April rent due to Insufficient Notice?
Is there a formula and/or standard charge for Insufficient Notice?


Devora, CA

A: Yes, you can keep it, but why would you? I guess I answered my own question. (Because you can?)

Published 2018-05-03

Dear Mr. Reno:
I sold my house sent my tenant a 30 day notice, gave a three day notice for the buyers bank to get in to appraise the property-
Tenant refuses to let them in. What do I do ?

Manny Fretard, Westerly RI

A: After the 30 days- you have a holdover eviction.

You can't get access before that. That's up to the tenant at this point.

Dear Mr. Reno:
We have moved through the eviction process for this troublesome tenant. He didnít show up to court, judge ruled in our favor, we have the writ of possession, and his 24 hours to vacate has passed. however, the door is locked and he has made no effort to leave. can we just go in and change the locks (and put up a no trespassing sign), and start removing his belongings? We donít think he is at home right now. can we do this solo, since we have the paperwork? and what happens if he shows up while we are in the process of following the guidelines of the court order?

A: I don't know the deal in your town. Isn't the Sheriff supposed to execute the writ of possession? (Or Marshall, Constable, etc.?)

Now if the tenant is out- that's different. If they abandon the premises, you can move in. But as a rule, if their valuables are still there, they're still in possession and you need the guys with the cowboy hats.

Published 2018-05-01

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am a Landlord and I served all proper notifications to evict my tenant who rents a room in the same place I live. I filed a Tenancy Summons and got a court date of May 7, 2018. We have come to an agreement before the court date hearing. The tenant will Vacate after a specified time and pay back due rent (almost done). DO WE ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO GO TO THE COURT HEARING? Why Can't we just write up our agreement fill out an affidavit of certification which is a public document that I downloaded and also fill out a downloaded CONSENT TO ENTER JUDGEMENT FOR POSSESSION (TENANT VACATES). Then have them notarized and mail them????

Victor P., New Jersey

A: You can do it that way, but it won't be enforceable. It's all well and good if he complies- but if he defaults and you contact the Sheriff or local constable/marshal (or whoever does the physical eviction in your area) they wont do it unless its from Court.

Dear Mr. Reno:
My Situation is : A townhouse that connects to our townhouse rental, has been used for several months as a kennel for 3 large dogs. The property is destroyed, we have notified the property owners and they have done nothing. The dogs are penned in a room all day because the tenant has been warned about the excessive barking all night long. So they have the dogs sleeping when animal control works from 9-5. They come by in the evening and let the dogs loose to roam and play running inside to outside. And this yard is next to the master bedroom of our property. Our tenants have made many complaints about the dogs to animal control and the local police. Our tenants are now moving out because of the dog problem and their lease is ending. Our question is: How do we legally get those dogs out of there? We can not rent our property with a clear conscious knowing those dogs will be a nuisance to our next tenants. Thanks for your help.

Donna from Georgia

A: It's really a police/town ordinance / "disturbing the peace" issue. If the police and local officials wont go after them, then its up to you to sue in civil court for "nuisance", but its a heavy lift. "Need lawyers, guns & money."

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have two young women who during the pre-lease interview for the #3 unit swore they had no boyfriends, and never partied. That turned out to be untrue. There have been several instances where they and/or their guests have proven to be disruptive enough to disturb our 2nd floor neighbors, who are now into their 8th year with us.

The first lease we provided began in December of 2017 and ended on June 30th. Today, May 1st they received written notice that their lease will not be renewed.

They are angry and have said that they intend to get a lawyer. I believe that I will not need to hire a lawyer but I am submitting this request to you in case you think I DO need an attorney
Thank you

Douglas DeDe

A: I don't see any problem. Keep me posted.

Published 2018-04-26

Dear Mr. Reno:
I was awarded a judgement for damages and non payment of rent. Unfortunately they are not responding to making payments.
I am in PA and need to know the next step to recover my funds.
Thank you,

Janet, PA

A: You have successfully departed the "landlord-tenant" arena and are venturing into "collections". There are many collection agencies and lawyer in your state that will assist you on a contingency (usually 1/3).

Published 2018-04-19

Dear Mr. Reno:
My commercial tenant going bankrupt . He has a bankruptcy attorney. Does she have to contact me and let me know what is going on ? By law or fiduciary responsibility?

Tenant won't respond and calls and email to attorney are not replied

Mike M., Connecticut

A: There is no law requiring contact until she files. Then you will be on the list of creditors and will be notified along with all her creditors on the bankruptcy matrix.

Also, there is no "fiduciary" relationship between you and her, so no help there either.

Dear Mr. Reno:
We hired Century 21 in Farmington NM two years ago to manage our house which we wanted to sell. We had to move out of state (Ohio) to care for my mom. The property manager was approached by some people who wanted to buy & they signed a contract. No credit check or background checks were done on these people at that time (without our knowledge). Since it was in our contract that Century 21 would vet any clients, we assumed this was a standard procedure. Our house appraised for 239k in 2016. The people that wanted to buy our home moved in but NEVER closed because they couldnít obtain funding. Meanwhile, we were stuck with the septic and termite inspections (required before we could close) . In August 2017, we agreed to allow these people to remain in the home and keep renting. I kept asking the property manager about the tenants and the condition of our home. Each and every time I was told that they were doing this or they were doing that to improve on what weíd all ready done. Eventually they were two months behind on rent and we realized that they werenít going to pay, so we had the property manager give them a 30 day notice. They still had property in our home 30 days after they were supposed to have moved out. We had the property manager change the locks and when he did his final walk through, he told us everything was good but the house would need cleaned Ė he said everything else looked good. When our daughter finally got a key to go clean, she was horrified to see that the place had been trashed. Doors duct taped together, hideous paint, trees pruned so much I hope they donít die, feces on the walls, it reminded me of a crack house. Trash and burned debris all over the yard, mountains of horse poop pushed out side of the corral. I have before and after photos. I called the police and asked them to file a vandalism charge against the tenants, but they stated that because I have a property manager, THEY have to file the report. Iím so disgusted. We donít have thousands of dollars to fix everything that they tore up and I know even if I sued them, Iíd never see the money. Can Century 21 and the property manager be held liable for not screening the tenants before letting them into our home and all the damages to our home?
We agreed that they could paint the living room. Thatís all. The carpets are urine soaked. Thereís feces on the floors. Itís really bad. Help!!!!

Lisa F., New Mexico

A: As with most lawyer questions, the answer has to start with the words "It depends..."

How will you establish they promised to check these people out? Just an assumption? That won't get it done. Was there any written agreement? Anything in there? Any oral promises? Got witnesses?

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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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