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

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

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

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


Published 2016-02-03

Dear Mr. Reno:
My name is J and I live in Florida. My fiancée is the primary on a home that she and her sister bought. Here sister came up with the down payment but has no job/bad credit and hasn't paid rent in 4 years because she won't take a job. We can no longer afford to cover the mortgage and expenses and there is no way her sister can pay us back. Can my fiancee evict her sister so that she can sell the home to recoup some of her losses? Thanks

J in Florida

A: Not a chance. You can't evict an owner! (If you could, I would have evicted my wife years ago- she never pays rent & wont take a job either.)

Sissy needs to sell. That's the only way to end this. When a partnership ends, you liquidate the assets. This is like a partnership.

Dear Mr. Reno:
Question is from the state of California We just had to clear a clogged drain directly under the bathroom. We had all pipes replaced for a renovation prior to the tenants move in. Question is, can we pass the plumbers fee to the tenant as it was obviously clogged from their use and this is not normal wear and tear?

Heather Heinsch, CA

A: That's a tough one, Heather. Start with the lease. Any help there? Any wording on maintenance & plumbing?

If not, it's a tough case. I know it's their fault- but try proving it in court. Not so simple. Unless you pay an expert to come in, your case may go "down the drain."


Published 2016-02-01

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a legal apartment above the main house and rent both to tenants. The upstairs tenant, who has a history of drug abuse and has had many domestic incidents where police were called, physically attacked my downstairs tenant, resulting in her arrest and a huge black eye and scratches and welts on my other tenants face. Can I have the upstairs tenant immediately thrown out of the premises without having to go through eviction process when she still has 3 months left on her lease?

Ellen B., Long Island, NY

A: "Immediately thrown out?" Is that a legal term?
How would that work, exactly? I mean, whose doing the "throwing"? The cops? They won't touch it- not unless there's a court order, like an eviction warrant.

Now sometimes in these domestic violence cases, the victim (in this case- downstairs tenant) could get an order of protection "keep away" which would effectually remove her. In that case, the Suffolk County Sheriff does the "throwing out". That's the only immediate" method.
Good luck.

Dear Mr. Reno:
Currently I am in the beginning stages of evicting my tenant, we have a month to month verbal. He has now moved in two people. Do I have to evict them as well? Or do I get a no Trespass order?

Jane W., MA

A: Have no fear. Just evict the whole cabal. The new comers are "John Doe" and "Jane Doe", sub-tenants (some places call them "under-tenants". A rose by any other name...

Dear Mr. Reno:
My grandfather left a house to one of his sons but in his will it says that the son thats been living in the house was able to stay unless the bills of the house was 3 pmts past due or until he passes away. Can the son that got the house kick my father out for any reason other than what was stated in the will?

Christina K.

A: I think your Dad has the upper hand. Did you ever hear "possession is nine tenths of the law"? Your Dad's in possession. That Will is gonna keep him there- but he'll have to fight it and he'll probably need a lawyer.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am a co-op shareholder in NYC. I had a trial for unauthorized alterations for taking down the wall. The judge ordered the wall restored. The board atty. managed to get me to sign a stip for legal fees and to issue a warrant of eviction after the decision. Based on the stipulation they were awarded legal fees and a warrant. I want to appeal the decision, however, the board atty. stated that as they have a warrant which though not executed even if I win the appeal I couldn't reverse legal fees awarded as they have a warrant. Can you help me understand this?

Simona B., NYC

A: Well this is way, way too complicated a question for me to understand, let alone answer, but let me say this: Any order can be appealed- any order can be reversed, so then having a warrant doesn't deprive you or your right to appeal b/c you could appeal the order giving them the warrant- but that's got nothing to do with whether or not you have grounds for an appeal or whether or not your appeal would be successful.

You know you only have 30 days right? (and if you're appealing the warrant- 30 days from the order giving them the warrant.)


Published 2016-01-28

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a cousin I’m renting to. Turns out she’s a professional tenant. We have a court date scheduled for Feb. 9th and I have a feeling she won’t show up. What happens in that case? Thanks.

P. Davis, Illinois

A: That's the best case scenario. You'll get a warrant of eviction by default. The only problem is if she's a pro-tenant, & she doesn't show, then she's planning to file to reopen. No way to preempt that. Just play it out.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a 3 family house, with market rate apartments in Manhattan, New York City. I would like to send a notice to vacate/notice to terminate tenancy to an apartment whose one year lease ends on May 31st, 2016. Legally, when do I send the certified letter?

Vicki S., NY

A: Technically, if the lease ends on 5/31/16, you don't need a Notice to Vacate, unless you have a clause in your lease requiring it.

Most landlords do it anyway, just to give the tenant time to prepare, thirty days before or sixty.


Published 2016-01-27

Dear Mr. Reno:
I got a judgment on a tenant . The tenants employer was served for wage garnishment I collected only a portion of the garnishment, the tenant resigned. I have recently found the tenant working for a new employer. My question is in the state of New Mexico do I FILL OUT A RELEASE OF GARNISMENT FOR THE former employee and do a new APPLICATION FOR WRIT OF GARNISMENT FOR THE NEW EMPLOYER?


A: You've successfully completed your landlord/tenant work and now have moved into the world of "collections". You'll have to ask a New Mexican collection attorney that one Elias. Sorry.

LPA Note:
There should be no reason we are aware of that you couldn’t just repeat the same garnishment process with your local Sheriff’s dept. and attach the salary from the new employer.
You also have the ability as a member or The Landlord Protection Agency to report the debt to the credit bureau so it goes on his credit report. If he cares about his credit or if he ever wants to borrow money or get a car loan, he will have to clean up the bad debt.
You can read more about this at (Option #1)

Dear Mr. Reno:
I live in Easton, PA. I have a tenant in my Brooklyn, NY, that owes me 5 months rent. Unable to contact them. I've sent them notices. What should I do?

Myrna, Brooklyn, NY

A: Well, I can tell you why their not answering. They're broke!
You need a NYC lawyer to start a non-payment eviction.
It might not be a bad idea for you or someone else to visit the property and see if they're still there.
Good luck!


Published 2016-01-25

Dear Mr. Reno:
I use the The LPA Lease, my renters broke the lease and after a month went by I got it re rented. Do i just deduct actual charges from deposit and refund difference or is the deposit forfeit when you break the lease plus charges? thank you


A: I'm a little leery about 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.

The LPA Lease does allow security to be used as unpaid rent, but you're using it as a penalty for breaking the lease, so its a little murky... or you could be using it to collect unpaid rent that was due. You may be in a grey area, depending on your state.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am in the process of preparing a lease for existing tenants. I am taking over the management of the property from the property manager I previously hired.

I liked some of the original disclosures and addendums presented and signed by the tenants at the commencement of the original tenancy and would like to incorporate those into the current lease. I have come up with the following enumeration to the LPA Lease and would like to know if this is sufficient. 52. INCORPORATION OF PREVIOUSLY EXECUTED ADDENDUMEMS AND DISCLOSURES
The following list of addendums and disclosures where were previously presented to and signed by the Lessees at the commencement of their tenancy of the subject rental property effective February 27, 2015 are hereby incorporated into this lease agreement:

Thank you!


A: That works fine Azmee; The only question is, do you need it? Are you afraid that the lease supersedes these docs & renders them null and void? You may be correct. Many leases have a clause nullifying "all prior agreements." So if you need to continue those provisions, go for it.

Certain addenda may also be use for emphasis.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I just inherited tenants on a property I just closed on, who were on a month to month agreement with the previous owner. I asked to meet with them and have made themselves unavailable the past week. Today I received a text asking who they should notify that they are moving out at the end of the month.

Question: Can tenants on MTM rental agreements just walk away from their tenancy or is there a minimum amount of notice they have to give me if it is NOT in a lease agreement?

Meghan McCallum, Illinois

A: Well, good riddance to them, but they should have given 30 days notice. If you have an empty unit in Feb, you could sue'em.

Dear Mr. Reno:
Tenant has dog. There is a no-pet clause in the lease.

The way I see it, we have 3 options:
A. talk to tenant and tell them the dog has to go.
B. tell them if they want to keep the dog then they have to move out, and break the lease by
giving 60day written notice and then pay 2 months rent as specified in the lease, or
C. start eviction process asap.

With A. I’m worried that they’ll come back and claim that it’s a service animal and that’s another issue. B/C seem a bit more severe, however it is what’s specified in the lease.

What’s the best way to go? Either A. or retain a real estate attorney?

Kevin, AZ

A: If you can talk to them that's always a good place to start- but then you'll need a written notice of default in order to terminate the lease. Even then, breaking a lease based on pets is problematic.

My opinion: Let them keep their dog but tell them when the lease is up- they're history. That usually gets a rise out of them.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have two tenants that have broken their lease by moving out and owes two month's rent. I would like to go about reporting them to the credit bureau. I was interested in becoming a member but would like to know pricing information. I do have their lease and both of their social security numbers from when I screened them. The last payment that was made by both tenants was in November of 2015 in which they abandoned the unit sometime in December.

T. Johnson

A: You need to sue first. Try small claims (only cost about $20.) After you file your judgment- that judgment will automatically appear on their credit.

The LPA can help you with the debt reporting whether you go to court or not. See


Published 2016-01-21

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am Jason from California, one of the LPA lifetime members.

I have a non-paying tenant that did not cooperate to any warnings or the 3 day pay or quit nor to any other make sense or meet me half way ideas. Now we have an eviction court date set after I went through the whole process. My question is having not been through this before what would I expect that could happen during that court hearing / trial?

Jason, CA

A: There will be settlement talk. In most cases, some agreement is reached- (A court stipulation) "I promise to pay & catch up or else" signed by the judge. If the tenants breach that (don't pay), they're evicted based on not complying with the court stipulation. That's how I evict most tenants. No trial needed.


Published 2016-01-20

Dear Mr. Reno:
I'm writing on behalf of my mother, a landlord (house) in Pennsylvania.
Her tenants don't currently have a lease. She gave them an eviction notice to be out by January 15 (the legal 10 days), or January 30 IF THEY PAID December rent ($400). They are not out, and say they will be out by 1st week of February. My mother knows that it will likely take longer for them to leave, as well as be more expensive, if she goes to the magistrate to take legal action. So her tenants are taking advantage of her by staying a few extra weeks AND not paying December or January rent.
My question: what action can my mother take to get the rent that is due to her?
Even if the court orders it, who enforces that?
Thank you,

Donna K, PA

A: You've got it right Donna. They are taking advantage of the situation. So you delaying is playing right into their hands!

Start your eviction. Get a lawyer of you have to, but get going. Don't worry about enforcement, that comes later. Get'em out- that's your No. 1 priority.


Published 2016-01-15

Dear Mr. Reno:
I own a townhouse style condo unit in New York. I won a judgement in small claims court against the condo board. Failure to maintain roof, including skylight. I had to resort to my own roofer.

Judge ruled in my favor. Board president still won't pay. Can I legally deduct the amount from my common charges? Total amount aprox 2,500. It would take about 4 months to recoup my loss. I don't want a threat of a lien. Thank you,

Linda Johnson, NY

A: That's a dangerous path. Your right to offset is not a slam dunk. Read the fine print of all your docs. That's not usually allowed.

You have a judgment. Enforce it. It shouldn't be that hard. If you need help with collection, there's websites for that.
No need to start World War III.


Published 2016-01-14

Dear Mr. Reno:
I sent a letter to a tenant via certified mail. Then I received a notice from the USPS that the letter could not be delivered. The notice said, "Return to Sender. Unclaimed. Unable to forward."

From a legal / eviction point of view, does this count as the tenant having received notice?

Spencer, Texas

A: Let not your heart be troubled! You have done your end- if someone doesn't get their certified mail- That's their problem- not yours. The courts have no sympathy for people that don't claim their certified mail.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a tenant that does not want to pay rent it was due on the 10th of the month, I have also asked her that her daughter and husband can't live there since the apartment is small and I rented to her and two small children, but now she is not willing to pay rent, I want to know if I can call the police to remove her daughter out of my property? I would also want to know how much would it cost to go thru the process of evicting her?

Rosalva A.

A: Yeah, call the cops. Let me know how that goes...
No, but seriously, I'm kidding, they're your tenant's guests. Not only that, they're immediate family. You can't exclude them.
You need to evict the whole cabal for nonpayment. Start dialing (or surfing.)

Dear Mr. Reno:
What is the liability if a tenant does foster care in rental property?


A: Here's my advice:

1. Require them to be licensed.

2. Require their business to have liability insurance.

3. Keep away, don't meddle. If the tenant's screw up & hurt a kid, the less you're involved, the better. As a general rule, you are not liable for the negligence of your tenant, as an "absentee landlord".

So I'm okay with it.


Published 2016-01-12

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am a landlord and I sent a certified letter for nonpayment. Do I need to go to court for eviction after 10 days or can I send a letter letting them know they need to move .

Tracy Wood, North Carolina

A: If you didn't have to go to court, I'd be out of business.


Published 2016-01-08

Dear Mr. Reno:
My niece and her boyfriend stayed a month with my daughter and son-n-law and they paid them $200.00 to stay and there was no lease signed at all( the month is already up), it was going to be a month to month basis to help them get back on their feet, things happened and they are no longer welcome to stay at my daughters house, their belongings are still in the bedroom that they were using and my daughter and son-n-law have asked them all week to please come get their stuff out, what should they do and how much time do you have before they can put their stuff out? my nieces boyfriend is threating that if they touch their stuff he will sue them ect. Should my daughter file an eviction notice with the courts even though they don’t have a lease and she was letting them stay there to get their life back on track? Thank you so much,

Lynn from Ohio

A: Here we go again. Trouble with the kinfolk- no good deed going unpunished, etc., etc.
In this case, it sounds like they've vacated, or are at least in the process of doing so. Type up a 30 day notice-then just sit on it. If they return, slap'em with it. Once they're out 30 days- change the locks.
Just leave their stuff alone for now. That's the least of your problems.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am a landlord of two family house and I rent it for two families. On April 2015 the tenant from 2nd floor complained to ConEdison on the overpayment. ConEdison arranged an investigation and found out overpayment for $11.00 monthly and required to correct the condition. I new about it from the tenant who sent me a copy of the letter by phone. I didn't corrected the condition in time and ConEdison closed the tenant's account and open an account for the second floor on my name. I hired a licened elecrtician who found out the wrong wires connection. The electricity net of basement occupied by the tenant of the first floor was connected with the meter of the second floor. The electrician corrected the condition . The tenants of the 2nd floor denied to cover electricity expanses for the period of correction ( $ 600) and demanded compensation overpayment for 2 years of his staying in an apartment ( $ 300). The cost of correction was $1200.00. Can I require to return expenses for electricity from the tenant of the 2nd floor for period of correction ?

Eugene G., NY

A: That's a tall order, Gene. You have to convince the court the 2nd floor tenant did what exactly? Why is it their fault?

Anyway, it's a small claims court matter. Try it.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I won a small claims award of $10000 from a former tenant who used my house to start a pot grow. The damages far exceeded the award. I've just received notice that he's filing Chapter 7. Do I have recourse? The property is in California.

Valerie T.

A: Probably not, if you want, file a Notice of Claim with the Bankruptcy Court. But its probably a lost cause.


Published 2016-01-07

Dear Mr. Reno:
Tenant took possession before lease was signed and is now not agreeing to terms. No money has been exchanged and she is not allowing my other tenants access to there space.

What can I do?

Kimberly, Texas

A: OM(F'ing) G! How could this happen? Never mind. It doesn't matter now.

It's a long shot-but try the cops first. You could say- No landlord/tenant relationship- no rent- no lease- no agreement. Just an unwelcomed guest. If that doesn't work, you have a month to month tenant with a verbal agreement. You can serve a 30 day notice. That's your only ace in the hole.
Good luck.


Published 2016-01-04

Dear Mr. Reno:
I understand your time is limited, but I do have a question to submit. By all means if this is something you could help out by having a phone call to explain, I would be happy to explore that, just let me know your rate for a 30-minute call. If Person A is listed as a "main tenant" on a lease agreement and Person B is on that same lease listed as a "roommate" I am curious about which route to go.

Person B submitted a falsified credit report/score hiding terrible credit (photoshopped), leading to the acceptance of the application. Person B changed the locks on Person A when they left the home due to fear of physical harm/abuse. Person B disconnected the auto-garage door opener and refused to let Person A come to the home to retrieve her things (bedroom set, bed, table, personal items)

Person B illegally subletted to his mother for a period of 2-3 months. Person B also housed a dog that violated community restrictions.

Person B trashed personal items of Person A (documented)

Person B vacated/moved out of the home with no notice and landlord is refusing to return Person A's security deposit and will hurt her credit.

I am just curious to know if there is any legal course Person A can take against Person B.

Thank you in advance for your time

Anthony D.

A: Well I can understand person A has a beef with the "roommate", but what would you sue person B for, exactly? The security deposit? That's between A and the landlord. Illegal lockout? That's a police matter. To sue you have to establish monetary damages. I don't see it.

My suggestion: A& B need to go their separate ways. Chalk this one up as a learning experience. Choose your roommates wisely, they can wreak havoc in your life.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a rent stabilized senoir citizen that receives the rental increases from the scrie Program of nyc . In the last year she is unable to take care of herself. She lives alone and I'm really concerned that she is a danger to herself and the other tenants in the building ...what can I do? Thank you.

Richard M., NYC

A: That's a little out of my area. You should call scrie program. I'm sure this has come up before. they'll steer you in the right direction or investigate the situation themselves.


Published 2015-12-30

Dear Mr. Reno:
I would like to ask you how do I go about evicting a family member do we give them a 30 day notice and what happens if there in jail do we have to keep there stuff in the storage?

Joseph G.

A: That's a good place to start! I would keep the stuff in storage 30-60 days.

This is tricky. You may need help with this. If it's a kid, some judges send you to family court. Also, if they just have a bedroom is a house they're sharing with others, that's another complication.

Dear Mr. Reno:
My brother is recently deceased in New York and his girlfriend of four years has told us she is a tenant and cannot be forced to leave ( she is welcome at her parents home ). Unfortunately since there is no will, and no funds available yet, we do not have the funds to maintain the property so we would like to close the house down so our only bill would be mortgage, taxes, homeowners. Can we do this? Not looking to hurt her but want to hold on to whatever we can for my nephew. Thanks

P. S. NY

A: You need someone appointed by Surrogate's Court. If there's a will, the Court appoints an Executor. If there's no will, the Court appoints an Administrator. Then the Executor or Administrator serves a 30 day notice to vacate.
Any questions?


Published 2015-12-22

Dear Mr. Reno:
Are stand by letters of credit by commercial tenant sufficient for LL security's and should I be careful about draw certificates time and conditions ?
Thank you

Ray from SF Ca.

A: Don't even go there.


Published 2015-12-21

Dear Mr. Reno:
So pay on time! And so on! -----Original Message----- From: The Landlord Protection Agency To: renoslaw Sent: Thu, Dec 17, 2015 4:05 pm Subject: FW: Ask the Attorney -----Original Message----- From: Brittany Wallace [] Sent: Thursday, December 17, 2015 3:06 PM To: Subject: Ask the Attorney Brittany, VA, I subleased from this girl and I owed some money for carpet cleaning due to the dogs and Internet payments. We had settled on a payment plan for every 2 weeks. I have been paying it sometimes a few days later. But now she wants to get lawyers involved and saying I'm not paying on time and so on.

Brittany, VA

A: So pay on time! And so on!


Published 2015-12-15

Dear Mr. Reno:
My tenant portion of her rent under section 8 for the past years are as follows:
      10/1/12 - 7/31/12 - ($16 x 10) -  $160
       8/1/13 -  7/31/14 - ($67 x 12) -   $804
       8/1/14 -  7/31/15 - ($14 x 12) -   $168
       8/1/15 -  7/31/15 -   0

  Since she is a single mother with 3 children, but she has only 1 when she moved in, I told her not to bother to pay her portion of the rent.  She had asked for 2 buckets of paint so she could paint the condo herself which I provided but she has not painted until now.  Last December she said she broke the glass oven door so I had a slightly used oven in good condition with metal door delivered to her and had the delivery receipt that she signed.  Last month, before the inspection, I was surprised the oven she's using is still the old one.  I asked for the replacement oven that was delivered to her but she denied receiving it.  I reported the incident to section 8.  I also submitted a 30 day notice of termination of the lease with grounds for termination/eviction.  She was requesting if we can come with an arrangement about the lease so she can stay longer.  I asked raising the rent by $100 more per month which she agreed.  If I ask her to pay the portion of her rent for the past 3 years (total $1,132) will that be valid or enforceable for eviction if she don't want to pay?  Should I get a police report about the oven that she stole? Will the stolen oven falls under fraud and valid ground for eviction?

  Please respond soon.   Thank you very much for your respond,

Maria from Ft.Lauderdale, FL

A: What a mystery. Maybe she never got the oven? I know it's weird- but what you're accusing her of- what, she tricked you into giving her a used oven so she could sell it?- That's tough to believe also. Did you see the oven?

So, anyway, you want your pound of flesh. She's offering to pay another $100 per month. So take it and she'll repay you for that oven several times over.


Published 2015-12-14

Dear Mr. Reno:
We have a difficult tenant we are evicting for nonpayment. We were already granted the judgment and the warrant of removal is being executed tomorrow. She has been calling and harassing us that she will refuse to leave until we return her deposit, however, she has not paid December rent (it will be Dec 10th when she is forced out with the court officer attending to our lockout). Do we have a right to keep her ENTIRE Dec rent in deposits, if she has already eaten into half the month? In other words, in cases of evictions, are we obligated to prorate, when we have a yearly lease? A tenant who leaves a lease in the middle of a month otherwise would still have to pay.
Thank you for your time,

CC in NJ

A: LANDLORDS BEWARE.. check your lease. Can you deduct security for unpaid rent? Here's a shocker: in many states, you can't- unless your lease says otherwise, security is for damage, period.


Published 2015-12-11

Dear Mr. Reno:
My current tenant supposed leave the house by November 30, 2015 unfortunately they are pretending, Current balance is approximately $11,000. Last month they signed the Promissory Note to pay the Balance $300/month, they paid the first month out of 37th installment. I have a doubt they may not continue.
Please advise

Sayed Hossain, NY

A: A mess. Are they still there? If so, you need to start with your eviction papers. I see this getting worse before it gets better.


Published 2015-12-07

Dear Mr. Reno:
On 11/04/2015 my tenants signed a stipulation of settlement agreeing to pay monies owed to me by 11/15/2015. They did not pay me and I continued with the eviction proceedings. On 11/30/2015 my tenants declared bankruptcy. When I spoke to them they told me they did this to stop eviction proceedings so they did not have to move. The last time they paid rent was April 2015 - how much longer can they stay in my house?
Thank you,

Theresa Bertrand, Nassau County, New York

A: Oh Boy. You've got troubles Terry. Bankruptcy is the worst word an eviction lawyer wants to hear.
If that petition is filed- your eviction is at a standstill. You'll need a bankruptcy lawyer to "lift the stay." Good luck.

"Above all, be ready to respond immediately if your tenant files for bankruptcy. This is especially true if the tenant fails to pay rent or is being evicted. Your first action is to request the bankruptcy court’s permission to commence or continue with the eviction process. This is accomplished by filing a Motion for Relief from the Automatic Stay. Some tenants will dismiss their petition and re-file a second bankruptcy petition in an attempt to further delay the process. The motion should be worded so as to make it possible for the eviction to continue, notwithstanding the dismissal and re-filing of a new bankruptcy petition. Most bankruptcy judges will agree to grant the motion with this added protection." - Excerpt from article: What To Do When Your Tenant Declares Bankruptcy, by Ted Kimball and Patricia Tirey

Note: Your LPA Lease has a Bankruptcy Clause in which the tenant agrees that rent will still be payable in the event of a bankruptcy.

Dear Mr. Reno:
She actually resurfaced. I panicked. However, my next question is since she is s monthly tenant and I am not to found how she handles payment, and based on the fact that New York City has stringent laws supporting tenants, will a 30 day notice to vacate be enough to begin procedures to vacate?

Keith, NY

A: You have to start somewhere- that would be the place. Unfortunately, you just missed 12/1, so if the rent is due on the 1st, you need to serve notice to vacate on 1/31/16 by 12/30/15.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am in Kansas. I leased my home out for a year to a single mother with a child, I knew her and against my better judgement I tried to work with her, but after 4 mo it was not working. I let her make payments on the deposit, but she was behind on that. she was to make 40 pmts a month and after 4 mo I only had 70.00. I let the utilities in my name as she had bad credit and couldn't get them in her name. I had to constantly ask for my utility payments. I was getting frustrated. So finally I had enough and I asked her nicely and told her my mom and I were not getting along can she find another place and she agreed. she moved in with her brother rent free!! I gave her 30 days and her last day was Nov 30. She paid her rent every 2 weeks, so her first half was made last part of oct for the first half of Nov rent. My question is now that she is out isnt she still liable for her other half of the rent and utilities for the last 2 months till she was out, even thou I broke the lease and she agreed to it. And another thing with her She backed up the sewer by flushing down her tampons and she admitted to it, My son and I did the work and it took us 4 hrs and I charged her 250.00 and she did pay me 30.00 towards the bill but then she said her attorney said that was bullshit, so she wont pay it...her lease says..Tenant will be responsible for any repairs caused by her or his negligence. Even thou I did the work isnt she liable for that bill? Shouldnt matter who did the sewer job, she was Negligent and admitted to it, So she owes me around 700.00 So who would win in court if I took her to court over this??

Melinda R, KS

A: You'll get the rent but not the toilet repair. Tough to prove the negligence- unless you're going to bring in a licensed plumber as an expert witness. Also, you usually can't get reimbursed for your own time.

Anyway, if you're going to small claims- sue for everything- see what you get. Good luck.


Published 2015-12-03

Dear Mr. Reno:
My tenant seem to have disappeared in thin air. Last contact I had with her was November when she dropped off her check late. Since then I haven't noticed any foot traffic in the home nor seen any signs of her. I called her job to no avail and reaching out to her contacts. What legal actions can I take? She doesn't have a lease and is renting month to month!

Keith, NY

A: This happens. You have to make a determination. Has she vacated or not? Have you tried looking through the


Published 2015-11-30

Dear Mr. Reno:
This question is about a potential tenant. I have a person that is in Afghanistan doing contracting work. Back story is he is there, supposedly his wife is in puerto rico and he wants to move in as soon as possible but he won’t be back in the US until end of December and into PA on January 7th. He wants to get a unit even sight unseen and willing to pay in advanced because he supposedly can’t get his kids registered for school until he has proof of a residence. My concern was how to manage all of this over the distance, aside from the whole situation being odd & making me uneasy so we were trying to use the need to be present to actually sign the lease. Now he is talking about using a Power of Attorney to sign his lease for him since he can’t be there to do it - so the short of it is can a power of attorney be an acceptable signer and what happens when the tenant gets back – would there need to be another signing? Too many red flags here for me so I won’t be doing this but wanted to know the legal end of it for my own future knowledge.

Paige from Pennsylvania

A: I don't blame you for shying off this. It's a mess.

A power of attorney can be used for a lease; problem: you need a lawyer to know if the power of attorney is good. Each state has their own rules. (In NY we have a state mandated 10 page form!) I don't know about PA- but you would need a lawyer to determine if your lease is binding with POA. Who needs that?

Dear Mr. Reno:
My sister and her two grandchildren (10 and 14) live in my home.  They arrived here under separate circumstances.  The police in a county three hours away from my home called one morning telling me that my sister was homeless and in jail, but I could get her out with $400.  I took care of this, and brought her home with me....I have spent close on to $2k on her bad check incident.

  Two months later, her grandchildren called crying and asking if they could be picked up at their other grandmother’s domicile in Mississippi to come here.  I drove several hours, picked them up, and brought them here to my home after they promised that they would not do anything to disrupt my peaceful home or cause me to regret making the decision to help. 

  We had to go through court procedures to get guardianship of her grandchildren by my sister.  Their parents were both running from law enforcement due to warrants.  I did write a letter to DHR advising them that the children did have a home here. Their mother was brought from a jail four hours away and agreed that the children needed a guardian until she was free and could make a home for them once again.   A home study was done, court rooms were visited, and finally paperwork granted custody to my sister.  They have been in my home for nearly a year and a half.

  Their parents were both arrested.  Their mother was released from jail in January of this year.  In June, she still had not come to them, even though she had called them several times.  I took them to her for summer vacation, and she has not been to see them at all.  She did drive down to bring them home before school commenced again this year.

  There have been several incidents in my home where I had no say in what transpires in my own home.  I have grown tired of repeating myself concerning my home and the children.  Instead of reprimanding her grandchildren, my sister chooses to verbally attack me.

  Now, I no longer wish for any of them to be in my home.  They are disturbing my peace.  I am nearly 59, a widow, and have been Blessed to not have to take any type of medication.  I am so upset and nervous now that I am thinking of going tomorrow to my doctor to ask for something for my nerves, then visit with DHR to see what I must do to get them out of my home, and then visit our courthouse to file ejection against my sister and her family.  I have had enough.  Everyone runs my home, but me.  Nothing I say in my home carries any weight with them.  

Please advise me if this is the proper procedure I should pursue to return peace to my home and myself.

  Thank you kindly for your time and assistance.  

Phyllis, Enterprise, AL

A: Yes, you definitely have to get these horrible people out, but, I think you're going to need a 30 day notice first.

You need a lawyer for this. This may not be that simple with all of you living in the same house. It's very tricky.

Good luck Phyllis. You did a good thing for the kinfolk, but that's why they say "No good deed goes unpunished."


Published 2015-11-25

Dear Mr. Reno:
Not sure if you can answer this or not but here I go...

I have a tenant lease in place (your template) that is in the name of 1 Tenant but there are two tenants at the premises. I had both tenants sign the lease but on the page have only the name of the main tenant. You know what's coming, tenants have a big Blowout and part ways. The main tenant stays. Now, the main tenant wants to redo the lease to take other tenants name off. So my question is, do I really need to redo the lease? Seems if anyone would want the lease redone would be the other tenant.
If you shed any light on this I would appreciate it.
Many thanks,

Jerry, Sulphur, LA

A: Just blow him off. Ignore him. Life's too short for this nonsense. When the lease is up, you can renew it in only one name.


Published 2015-11-24

Dear Mr. Reno:
Tenant is behind in rent currently incarcerated and no utilities are on at the property. I went to eviction court and the judge would not grant me right of redemption citing that I needed a Baltimore county rental registration. In order to get this I need to have an inspection company perform tests which require Elec and gas service. I also am concerned with freezing temps the damages that will be imparted as a result. What are my options.
Please advise
Thank you

Nick, Baltimore, MD

A: You lost me on "right of redemption" Is that the same as an eviction there? (here, redemption is for tax sales) If so, then its a catch 22. You'll never get a permit with out utilities. If this Judge is insistent, you may need to go over his head to appellate division.


Published 2015-11-23

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am writing on regarding a tenant who broke the lease of 3-years lease.  I am now leaving overseas.
  The reason was that the ground pool was in bad-shape (after she renting nearly two-years). 
  She did not pay for first month's rent (and apparently paid to an agent of $1300 who I did not hire and there was no agreement).
  I had to sell the home at a deep discount as she left behind a pool that was 9 feet deep.

  Landlord's damage:  
1. No rent for 1st year  $1300
2. Landlord paid over $2600 for repairs to the tenant and her co-signed friend Casey Wise who was a realtor (but I did have no agreement with Casey).
3. Damages to the pool $4000.
4. Loss of rental income for at least t months (2X1500 = $3000)
5. Landlord provided a home warranty to the tenant although he had no obligation ($550).

  Because of the losses above the landlord could not return the security and notified the property manager to have significant counterclaim against the tenant.

  The tenant now went to a small claim court and sued the property manager, who stated that he had no agreement with the tenant and have no obligations to the matter.


A: Well for starters, no way the property manager should be sued. He's just an agent. But, 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 lease doesn't specifically allow these deductions, you're on thin ice.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I had tenants that did not put the water and electric bills in their name. They have since been evicted and the house is being sold (short sale). I have informed the electric and water company that I am in the process of suing these tenants but I don’t really expect any proceeds from this effort except that tenants will have another bad mark on their credit. In this selling situation, however, do I have any rights as to their balance. The bill is in my and my company name. Do I have to pay their balance? Or can it be written off.

Al, Delaware

A: If the bill is a lien on the property it will come up in the title search and be absorbed by the short sale. But if it's not a lien, then its just a debt that your company will pay. Then your only remedy would be to proceed to small claims court- which you'll win- but even then, only get a money judgment. (Worth your time?)

Dear Mr. Reno:
I was awarded a stipulation of settlement against my tenants on Nov 4th. They were to pay back rent by Nov 16 which they have not paid.

I am waiting on one more DOB before I join LPA. I have one more question, there is another adult living in the house. He is listed as a "John Doe" in the stip because I did not have his name or DOB when I went to court. I now have his name - can he also be reported to credit agencies even if he is not listed in the lease?
Thank you


A: No sorry Terry. No obligation to pay rent there. He's just a freeloader.

Dear Mr. Reno:
My husband and I are landlords of a 4 family and live on the first floor. We have a strict non smoking policy and now have a man that is smoking on the first floor. He obviously has lied to us about being a non smoker. Can we ask him to leave immediately since I and other tenants are getting sick over it? We have not confronted him since he has probably smoked elsewhere until the weather has just gotten colder...Please advise. Thank you!

Gail B in RI

A: Well yes, you could "ask him to leave immediately" but if he doesn't, you are stuck with him until his lease expires. Maybe if you tell him his lease wont be renewed, he'll change his ways? But if you try to evict, mid-lease on this behavior, you've got an expensive legal battle.


Published 2015-11-20

Dear Mr. Reno:
My tenant is not working due to a job-related injury and has requested to pay December rent in January and to waive December late fees. This happened last December as well. What would you suggest I do?
Thank you!

Vanessa Larson, Texas

A: If he thinks he can catch up, you need to write a schedule showing exactly how he'll catch up. If he needs to stay one month behind- that's ok- but NO longer. He has to commit to when he'll catch up. Then if he misses a payment, dum-di-dum-dum.


Published 2015-11-19

Dear Mr. Reno:
If a settlement stipulation was agreed upon by an arbitrator, tenant and landlord.. and tenant moved out by xx date, landlord would drop back rent of 2 months. The deadbeat tenant was already served properly and into holdover. He owes 1,300.00 back rent to landlord. Tenant left by agreed upon date but owes landlord 2 months rent. Even with a stipulation settlement can Landlord try to collect what is owed?

Barbara, NY State Nassau County

A: It goes by what the stipulation says. Does the stipulation say you get a judgment or not? Does it say, on some days (I practice in Nassau) no money judgment if tenant vacates by xx date? Then you're out of luck. Bottom line, you can "collect what is owed" as you put in, only if your stipulation entitles you to a money judgment.

Dear Mr. Reno:
My son and his wife wanted to rent my home as they had lost thiers. They brought the paper work and i signed what i thought was a rental agreement. Actually a lease/ purchase with them taking the home after 5 years at balance owed. That was not in the paper work I signed. My daughter is co owner with me and we want them out of the home as I did not sign that paper. When I told my son that I needed to move back into the home he physically threw me out the door. I would never give my home away for nothing to a child when there are other 6 other children in the family. Thank you,

Melody C., GA

A: O.M.G! You need a lawyer fast. You can start with an eviction lawyer-but it may not be that simple. You may need a real estate lawyer. This may be a superior Court matter. (But try the eviction first because its cheaper and quicker.)

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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.

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