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Eviction Attorney

Q&A with John Reno, Eviction Attorney

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Recent Court Victory

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


Published 2016-07-29

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

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

Richard Schultz Ė Cleveland Ohio

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

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

Stuff happens.

Published 2016-07-22

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

Vicki Seabrook, New York

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

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

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

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

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

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

Any suggestions?
Thank you for your time.

Roni Perlut

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

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

Published 2016-07-21

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

Pat Paretti, Garfield, New Jersey

A: I'm a little leery about advising you there because so many states have enacted strict laws on returning security and the landlords are getting their butts sued off. As a general rule, security is only to cover damage to the property. Period. So if your lease doesn't specifically allow to deduct lost rent, you're on thin ice.

Published 2016-07-13

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

Lyn A., New York State

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

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

Kristen Dross from NY

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

Published 2016-07-12

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

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

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

Thanks so much for your help. †

Sally Barrett, Eugene, Oregon

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

Published 2016-07-07

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

I do want her to move immediately.

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


Jennifer Aaron LPA Member

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

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

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

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

J & L, Bethpage, NY

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

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

Published 2016-07-06

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

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

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

Your comments will be sincerely appreciated.

Best regards,

Joseph O., CT / NC

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

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

Good luck!

Published 2016-06-30

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

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

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

Thank you,

Tom Palmisano, Tennessee

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

Published 2016-06-29

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

John, NYC

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please respond as soon as possible
thank you

Denise M.

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

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

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

Published 2016-06-28

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

Thank you

Sylvia, New Castle, PA

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

* PFA = (Protection from Abuse Order)

Published 2016-06-24

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

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

Albert Broussard, California,

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

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

Published 2016-06-23

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

Is Landlord responsible ?
Thank you

Angela A.

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

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

Dave, GA

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

Published 2016-06-20

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

Sara in Florida

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

Dear Mr. Reno:
My sister was staying in a trailer on 1 acre of land belonging to my parents. She volenrarily vacated the residence over 2 years ago but her and her husband left property at the residence. What are the rules of thumb regarding abandoned property, can we get rid of the existing property?

Charles, Callahan, Florida

A: It's been 2 years! What were you waiting for, "end of days"?

Dear Mr. Reno:
If I allow my niece and nephew to live in my home rent and utility free with no rules other than no law breaking drugs etc am I a landlord?

Would I be required to evict either of them if they failed to move elsewhere at my request?

Agnes, Duval County Florida

A: 1. No
2. Yes.

The misconception here is even though there is no landlord/tenant relationship - that doesn't mean you won't still end up in eviction court. You've got squatters, unwelcomed guests, invitees- all sorts of characters. You still need a warrant of eviction from a court before the Cops, Sheriff or Marshall will boot'em.

Published 2016-06-15

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am renting my townhouse to a lady and she had her boyfriend bring a pitbull over night with out my permise. I also live in the townhouse. Can I evict her for doing that. Also I am renting the master bedroom to her and her 16 year old daughter. The mother has been having guys over night in the room. Is that legal. There also a couple of other things.

Thank you for any information

Kristi Fuller, OR

A: Tough to legislate against bad behavior. Her Guests are her choice- I hope nothing too weird going on with the guy & the daughter. But no legal recourse there.

The dog can be a technical lease violation. You can start with a letter & then a Notice of Default. Maybe that will get a reaction?

Court process is very difficult in this area. Very few tenants successfully evicted for improper pets. You could try. Do you want to go to war over this? Could be some battle.

Published 2016-06-13

Dear Mr. Reno:
Hello I am Adriana S. a landlord from Addison, IL, I have a tenant that has broken their lease by being late for the last 8 months, they now owe me 2 months rent, have left the apartment for the last 30 days, both vehicles have been gone also without notifying me, i have asked to enter the apartment they have not met me for entry. Now they are not answering their phones or responding in any way. I believe they have gone out of state to California to move back home without paying the back due rent. Rent-a-center has been coming to the apartment to try and collect the rented furniture for non-payment. Is this considered abandonment? What is my remedy as a landlord in the state of Illinois? Thank you.

Adriana S., Addison, IL

A: You are right smack in the middle of the proverbial "gray area." HAVE THEY VACATED OR NOT? That is the question.

So, there's no law that requires you to evict if they've already left, obviously. But have they? If their valuables are still there, they're still in possession. Big screens? Clothing? Good furniture? You tell me.

Published 2016-06-10

Dear Mr. Reno:
Hi. I live in colorado. We had to move quickly for a job in a different town. We posted the house for rent and were contacted by a family. My husband and I realized traveling 4 hours for maintenance would be too difficult. †We advised interested party we decided not to rent. They said what if we do all maintenance? Ok. Done. Instead of a deposit they agreed to do a few things we couldnt do before we moved. Anyway. Nothing repaired. Rent 4 to 15 days late. Water bill still in my name, almost disconnected. †We drove by property to see deck destroyed and unsafe as well as a brand new swing set we couldn't take. Trash everywhere, lawn dead...etc. posted a notice that we would be down in 1 weeks to.fix things. I have not been able to contact them since. Told me last time i talked to them that i was harrasing them because i would ask when rent would be paid after they were late. Any advice? I just want them gone. † †


A: Oh boy, †Big problema.

You didn't mention about the lease. †I hope you didn't give them a year or more. †This is why, I don't like the one year lease to start with new tenants. †I prefer six months. †Now if these people don't pay, you'll do a non-payment eviction. †But if they pay, even late, your going to be stuck with them until the lease expires and then evict as holdovers.

Just to top it off, you let them in without security. †Another "no-no".

Another lesson learned.

Published 2016-06-08

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a California home tenant whose 2 year lease expires 8/1/2016. Due to their constant fix-it demands, (all taken care of), I have decided NOT to renew their lease and sent the LPA 60 day non-renewal lease notice on 5/31/2016.

Apparently they are out of the country for 3 weeks and have requested that I extend their lease for an additional month to Sept. 1 so they can have "adequate time" to find another home. I'm concerned that extending the lease for an additional month may lead to additional requests for more time as the rental market inventory in SF Bay area is very limited.

These haven't been bad tenants - only very demanding, and their housekeeping is poor.

Should I consider extending for an additional month or am I better off sticking to terms of the lease and avoiding future headaches?
Also how does one even extend an additional month that would include an ironclad finish date? Thank you,

Peter, CA

A: Oh, give'em one more month. They're given you advance notice. Most tenants just sit there and make you evict them.
Do a lease extension to 9/1/16 on the LPA form which will have a clear termination date.
(Don't be a meanie.)

Dear Mr. Reno:
Am I responsible for safety brackets and installation of air conditioners in my rent stabilized 8 family building?

Josephine A., New York

A: Jo, you have stumped the panel. I have no idea. Try the rent stabilization board.

Published 2016-06-06

Dear Mr. Reno:
I manage a property CA and realize that you are not in this state...but hopefully will know the answer..

† I have a tenant whose lease expires end of June.† The owner decided NOT to renew the lease and had me advise tenant that the lease was not going to ve renewed and also give a 60 notice to move.

Question is"
Tenant seems to think that the 60 notice to move negates the lease and that he does not have to pay for June.† He has moved effective tomorrow, June 3rd.

† Is he liable for the rent to the end of the lease of is he correct in his information?

† Thank you for your time

Cheryl Harmon, CA

A: Yes, he is still liable for June.

Dear Mr. Reno:
Thank you for your help.

Iím Carrie from Evanston, Illinois. Iím a landlord and my tenant Joyce broke the leasing contract 3-month ahead. She also burned the countertop. Iím holding her one-month rent as deposit. What I can do to recover my loss?

Carrie, IL

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 for lost rent, you could be on thin ice.

Published 2016-06-03

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am in Arizona. We have a commercial building that we rent out. The tenant just moved out and we discovered that two commercial grade deadbolts have been replaced with cheap residential deadbolts, and the tenant only gave us the key to one. When they moved in all four locks ( 2 deadbolts and 2 door knobs) were all commercial grade and keyed alike. Now we have 2 cheap deadbolts that are not compatible even with our other locks, and 3 different keys. I know we are responsible for rekeying the locks, but can we deduct the replacement of the missing commercial grade deadbolts from their deposit?
Thank you,

Anna, AZ

A: You go right ahead & deduct that (the nerve of some people.)
Please save your receipts.

Published 2016-06-02

Dear Mr. Reno:
Thank you for your attention. real short. my brother, who I allowed in my home while I traveled nurse, March 2015, With no rental contract. A case of He said, she said.

He met woman on date site, married May 9 2016. He moved her into my house April 2015. I have been telling him to get out. Being in Wisconsin and NC and Texas in 2015 did not allow me to process through courts. In home state, in March, 2016 I started process of eviction. Because I accepted money during eviction process, I have to start over. My 1,000 dollar attorney knew this up front about money acceptance. Case dropped to restart process.

Now, brother has locked screen doors and changed garage door keypad code. Refuses to cooperate to let me in house. Water was in his, then fiancee, name, up to today, in which she told water company she will no longer be residing there, as of June 1, 2016. Water company called me and asked for my address. Well THAT is my address! Now, water in my name, they are both in there, won't let me in.

Can I legally turn water off? Electricity company has not called. I will call them and water in morning. I'm homeless, feeling helpless and angry. What can I do?? I live in OH.

Dana L., OH

A: What a mess!

Turning off the water (or lights) is generally a "no-no." You can get a summons from the Health Department- or even arrested for that. So that's not the answer.

You had the right idea- an eviction. Sorry it didn't work out- but that was the proper path so if you want possession, all I can say is don't give up.

Published 2016-05-31

Dear Mr. Reno:
Hello: I am in San Diego and in Sept 2014 had a young military couple with 2 standard boxer dogs move into a single family home with a large, well landscaped, sprinkler/drip system yard. The lease is specific on them returning the landscaping in the condition they received it and I have a gardener who comes in 2x a month to mow the lawn and trim the flowers/bushes (lease states they are still responsible for landscaping nonetheless, ie watering hot spots, calling me if gardener doesn't show etc). †

The dogs are horrific, untrained, large, rambunctious, dig, and have over this time ruined the outdoors/yard.† It has been addressed many times, including the removal of the feces which is a constant mess. They have made promises about training, fencing, supervising, but the destruction continued. It seemed senseless to replace the sod and landscaping/ground cover until they were leaving. ††

About 6 months ago I saw another boxer there. They lied about the dog (said: it's visiting) but as the destruction continued (borders torn up, sod is dead and down to bare dirt, digging until tree roots are exposed and chewed, borders dug up exposing weed cloth, drip system dug up) I gave them a 3 day notice (5/25/16) because I saw the 3rd dog present 3x over 10 days.† Tenant admits today they snuck in and own a third boxer, which is against city rules (2 dog per household maximum) and was not permitted on their lease.† ††

The husband was transferred to Virginia last month, the lease ends Aug 31, 2016 and wife, working FT, cannot control the dogs.† †

† I wrote them on April 3, 2016 that seeing the 3rd dog again would be grounds for eviction. So the 3 day notice ends next Tuesday (may 31) and I truly do not know how to remedy it because they aren't going to get rid of a family pet. I feel if I evict a judge won't allow it (because they pay rent on time).† If I ask for additional security to pay for the damage later, it is like saying it's OK to have the 3rd dog and destruction continues for 3 months (and how can I complain because I said it was OK to have 3 dogs?). †

† I do not want another 90 days of destruction.† I feel bad about evicting with the wife home alone but I would like to give them 30 days to get out.†

† The question of how to renovate the yard is also looming because tenants say don't worry, they will 'seed it' before they go which is impossible in the SoCal heat plus new tenants would have to water it, baby it, not use it for weeks; seeding is no way as effective a ground cover as sod, which had an indefinite life until it was pounded down to dirt.† There was also groundcover & bushes when they moved in (done by a licensed contractor), now I plan to renovate using less sod and more DG which is cost effective for them versus replacing all the sod which was killed, but I don't know how much of the renovation is allowed in landscaping ruination? It is so much more clear when a tenant damages a house. Naturally the tenants are planning a cost of $300-$500 when it will be 6x that cost, AND they want to be part of the decision making and plan to do the renovation themselves. ††

In 30 years of tending rentals, I have not had to deal with this kind of destruction.† Tenant said today her parents are moving in with her next month (?!!) and can help manage the dogs and they 'have done lots† of yards' and I do not want to get into arguments with her father about how to renovate that yard or who is going to do it. I have been told I should have fixed the yard as time went on and continued to bill them as the dogs continued to be unsupervised, but this seemed senseless after the first sprinkler/flood incident. ††

I would like direction on: can I evict them (will a judge uphold an eviction because of the dogs destruction)? should I take additional security deposit on the dog? Am I liable breaking City Law because they have too many animals? Is there direction on what I can withhold from their security deposit in the matter of yard/landscaping renovation? (I have before photos) ††

I am dreading this going on another 90 days and feel as if I am watching dollars fly out my window day by day with no control.† Thank you for any advice and direction.† †

Jackie Mitchell, California

A: No. The City may give them a summons, for the extra day- but that wont evict them.
If you can get it.
After they vacate, out of pocket expenses only- you may deduct.

Published 2016-05-25

Dear Mr. Reno:
New tenants moved into my single family home.† After one month, they want out.† Thatís fine.† Now she wonít let me show the house to new, incoming tenants till she is out of the house.† Can I keep her security deposit to cover the month of loss rent?

They have since vacated the house, but will not give us the key.† They are paid till May 31, 2016, but the house is vacant and dirty.† When she was asked about getting the house back she replied; May 31, 2016 11:59pm.

Is there any way to take the house?† Abandoned Property?† They are not sleeping there, and had a uhaul take the matresses, table and couch, which are their only fixtures last week.† They were not clean people, and had 2 cats.† I have people moving in June 1, but the house needs to be cleaned, which they are not going to do.†
Your opinion is greatly appreciated.

Claire, Rhode Island

A: It sounds like they've abandoned. If their furniture is gone & their clothes are gone then, I'd say they are out. Retake possession on June 1 because they're paid thru 5/31. You can deduct only itemized "out of pocket" clean up expenses.

Look at the bright side. They saved you the cost of an eviction lawyer like me.

Dear Mr. Reno:
Hello. First time as a Landlord and it has been a nightmare. I bought a house for a friend, so doesnít matter how much you go over things....I know!
I did have a lease and she was late from the first due on the 1st, no late fees, no grace period. I let her move in early as she was anxious ( Nov 20th) Rent Due Dec 1st.
She paid Dec 10th. I talked to her about this.
Paid Jan 8th AFTER I text her. ( I Gave her a 45 day written notice to move) Because of late rent and safety issues surrounding her stay.

Long story short.. I went to inspect (gave her a 24 hr text notice).

Found marijunna in a bag Called police and they pointed to a scale, which I didnít notice or know what it was and a box of zip lock bags.

Is this enough to evict?? I took pictures when the police officer was there and also of the scale and zip locks.. and the mess, which isnt against the law.
Thank you!

Andrea L....Ohio

A: Drugs are a common landlord complaint, but, unfortunately, I have yet to see a tenant evicted for pot. She's got a lease. She's late, but she pays. So there we are.

Bottom line: If she defaults, evict for non-payment. When the lease is up, don't renew. (You take her to court for marijuana, your eviction will go up in smoke.)

Published 2016-05-24

Dear Mr. Reno:
We have a rental home that is currently in a one-year lease. The lease is getting ready to expire next month. I want it to move into a month-to-month rental. When the lease expires, and if the tenants chose to stay, will it just automatically go into a month-to-month rent situation? Is it necessary to sign a new contract for a month to month? Thank you very much,

Tracy, CA

A: That's the general rule Tracy. But check the lease. Any special provisions for expiration or renewal?

Otherwise, it goes month to month, but note: all of the other terms in the lease continue even through the one year expired.

Dear Mr. Reno:
My name is David, and I live in Texas. We have a rental property here in Texas, and we plan to sell it this summer. We actually have a potential buyer now. Last weekend we did a walk through and realized that the tenant has his brother living with him, and it does not appear to be temporary. So, is it worth it to address the unauthorized tenant, or should we just sell it and move on?

David D., TX

A: Finally, a clear thinker.

I don't know why my readers (mostly landlords) are obsessed with the prospect that someone else moved in. You, on the other hand, are selling anyway. You may have to evict the tenant, unfortunately, and you evict all the occupants at that time.

Dear Mr. Reno:
We received a Security Deposit from each prospective tenant (two $500 checks) because they loved it so much, wanted to rent it, & provided the deposits for us to hold it. I sent the tenant an email the next day stating "the deposit would be held in escrow until the Terms of the Lease have been terminated and fulfilled. Also stated this would be 30-60 days from when tenant vacates the property, etc." Until yesterday, we didn't receive anything from the tenant but questions on how they can move in early since their lease ends on the 15th, a question from the roommate about income verification, and stating only page of the application was sent. I emailed them back stating they could move in early, we would work w/ the roommate on verification of income, etc. Yesterday, I received an email stating they want their deposits back because they found a better place. I took the house off the market on the 11th to hold it for them, and again, until yesterday neither prospective tenant reached out to one of us stating otherwise. Saw on the lpa forum about "holding fee" not being refunded & wanted to ensure we are in the right to keep one of the deposits ($500). Lastly, know you are very busy, completely understand if you don't have time to help with this, but was hoping you have a letter template to send and/or a couple words in what to write with one deposit being refunded.

I look forward to hearing from you.
Thank you,

Andrea Fatell

A: This is the problem of the month. Somehow, nation-wide epidemic of people putting down deposits and backing out.

It's complicated. Was there a valid contract? Is this covered by local statute governing return of security after the tenant vacates? (Not applicable here- they never occupied?)

Why don't you offer to give them each back $250? That might keep you out of small claims court.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a family member renting a house from me. It's in Los Angeles CA rent control she bring in a cat and a boyfriend and boyfriend's daughter. Can I raise the rent and make her give me a increase on security deposit.

Bobroy, CA

A: Its probably not that simple, but if it's rent control, you should direct your inquiry to the local rent control board. They'll give you their guidelines.

Dear Mr. Reno:
Was taken to court for no payment do my husband had been lay off. So the agreement with landlords lawyer was on Feb,17, 2016 of 2900.00 payment their after was 800.00 per week to June 30,2016 . With it covering Oct thru Feb and included March to June with those months attached to rents current. Missed 1 payment and have had all money since that landlord hadn't pick . Little did we know that she was evicted us as April 12 to when she filed,but we haven't received till May 17,2016. We've tried get in touch with her but know response. We then since have saved money owned. I appeal this eviction and had it bought to higher court. Now have paid 3000.00 to which I have but they want to pay before my court hearing and next then will statement my case. My BIG CONCERN is that they will take money and still eviction me so that leave me know way to leave. Can this happen or Can she then take let stay. Then when agreement is up have me leave or evicted. Please HELP. My life has been upside down. This all happen the day before and the day of my daughter Stonybrook graduation. Thank you for time . Please help us out.

Michele I.

A: (Since this is "The Landlord Protection Agency", we don't usually advise tenants on this site, but here's a Change of pace.)
So are you paid up now, or what? I'm confused. You paid 3000- does that make you current?

Also, what is the lease situation? Your BIG CONCERN is they will still evict. Well if the lease is up, you've got no guarantee.

Finally, you paid it already. The deal is done. Why worry now. Just make the payments.

Dear Mr. Reno:
We own a trailer park and one of our tenants who rented a trailer passed away, she was the only signature on the lease. A man was living there and wanted to continue, however, he is always late, refuses to pay late fees and has caused damage to the home. Can we evict him due to the fact his name was never on the lease. We are in the state of Texas.
Thank you

Mary D., TX

A: Yes, you can. He has no lease. But you've been taking rent from him, so he's like a month to month tenant now. He gets a 30 or 60 day notice depending on your state.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a property located in Cook County, Phoenix, IL. I picked it up on the judicial sale. I am not 100% sure if the current owner lives there. I peeked into the mailbox and the mail is addressed at current owner. I talked to the guy who lives there but he refused to provide me his name. I think we will need to start eviction. I believe I need to give him 90 day notice and then turn it over to an attorney to file for eviction. Please let me know if you do post sheriffs sale type of evictions. I would like to get the process started ASAP. Please let me know how to serve the notice so that the judge does not throw it away on technicality. Do I need to put on the notice at least one name or maybe I can just address the notice to ďall unknown occupantsĒ. Do I need to serve him in person or mail the notice or stick to the door?

Question 2: The order to evict the owner is included in the OAS (Order Approving Sale). Can I give the OAS to Sheriff and schedule eviction of the owner anyways? I do not want to waste time so I was thinking that if this person who lives there is the owner Sherriff will throw them out. If he is NOT the owner then sheriff will show up and some point in 4-5 weeks and will NOT throw him out ..but the 90 days are already running (as I plan to serve them next week).thanks

Marcin Grzesiak, Cook County, Phoenix, IL

A: Sounds like you want to skip over the court thing & go direct to the Sheriff. I don't think that will fly, although, it would be nice. The "order to evict" means go to eviction court- not the Sheriff, but you could try it. The worst the Sheriff can do is send you to court.

My firm does these evictions but I'm only licensed in NY.

Published 2016-05-23

Dear Mr. Reno:
New tenants moved into my single family home. After one month, they want out. Thatís fine. Now she wonít let me show the house to new, incoming tenants till she is out of the house. Can I keep her security deposit to cover the month of loss rent?

Claire, Rhode Island

A: As you may know, 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.

Published 2016-05-17

Dear Mr. Reno:
My LPA lease states no trampolines. My tenant just sent me an email stating that his renterís policy covers $300,000 liability for trampolines. He leased the property with lease stating no trampolines. If there was an accident, the $300K may not cover all. I think I should state policy is ďNo Trampolines.Ē Your thoughts. Thanks.

Winnie Stearns, Stearns Property Co., Inc., Texas

A: First of all, now I've heard everything!

Second, his renters policy may not necessarily protect you; it's mainly to protect the tenant.

Last, there is procedure in most leases that allows you to terminate when there's a violation like this, but its a complicated multi-step procedure, way to much trouble.

I suggest if you feel this strongly, let your tenant know if they do not remove it, their lease will not be renewed when it expires.

Published 2016-05-12

Dear Mr. Reno:
My tenant got summons for her dog (feces in Back Yard) for $ 1000.oo in my name, since I am the landlord. I am trying to appeal this decision. What can say the reason to appeal (what mistake was made by the judge) the inspector could not access my town house, he could only inspect it from neighbor's house. I live on very limited income.
Thank you,

Vlad Shnayder

A: Say you are an absent landlord with no knowledge of the underlying facts. The only problem is your knowledge may not be an essential element of the crime and therefore may not be a defense.
But it's all you got.

Dear Mr. Reno:
If two people are on a lease one head of household n another person and a eviction goes thru who will be responsible for the broken lease


A: Two on lease. That's what it goes by- not head of household.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a high end rental house in Orange County, CA. My tenants are very high maintenance and have unreasonable expectations. After staying at the property for 2 years now, they have sent a letter of complaint through their lawyer:

They have listed every single repair problem that occurred during their stay (everything was repaired promptly and properly). They are not claiming that repairs were not done, but are claiming "deprivement of comfortable and safe use and enjoyment of the property". They are claiming 125k in damages! We are currently scheduled to go through mediation. From all my research they have no legal ground to stand on.

The only significant issue that occurred was a water damage event 3 months ago that resulted in small area of mold growth. This was handled professionally through, water restoration, mold remediation, pre and post-testing. Intitialy complaint was around mold but since that was fully taken care of they changed their tune and sent the above complaint letter.
Their lease ends on 05/31/16. Please advise

Bijan, CA

A: This law suit is an absolute disgrace, but, on the other hand, why should I be surprised. Another loser, full of self-entitlement, looking for a free meal ticket- who can I sue for what nonsense. Its a shame. But these are the times we live in.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am looking into a 1031 exchange or a deferred sales trust on a rental property I am wanting to sell then reinvest in another rental property. The problem with the 1031 exchange is finding the replacement property in the 90/180 day required identify/close time frame. I feel this time frame is too restrictive and I would like more time to locate the replacement property. Can I sell the existing rental property and put the proceeds from the sale into a deferred sales trust and then locate the replacement rental property and purchase it with the deferred sales trust monies and complete this purchase on my time frame? I am thinking more like 6 to 18 month time frame if possible. Thanks,

Eric Lundgren

A: They're very strict on the 180 days. I don't think that will fly. But you have to talk to a tax guy or a 1031 specialist.

Published 2016-05-11

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a tenant who rented an apartment from me for him and his two children every other weekend. He has a girlfriend who started visiting only weekends, now she has been here for two weeks. I approached my tenant and asked him straight out if she was moving in. He said no that they were thinking of buying a house in the spring. I also told him that the apartment is for him and his kids. And that if she moves in she has to go on the lease. I live in Connecticut and would like to know what is the length of time aloud before I can approach the tenant and have his girlfriend added on the lease.
Thank you

Nancy from Connecticut

A: What is this obsession so many landlords have with adding people on the lease? That should be your biggest problem. Is he paying his rent?
He's a single guy (w/ kids). Now he's got a girlfriend. Big surprise . Did you expect him to remain celibate?
Wait for the lease to expire. Add her upon renewal. Don't go to war over this. Life's too short.

Published 2016-05-10

Dear Mr. Reno:
Return of security. Leased unit for 1 yr held 2 mo security
Boyfriend and girlfriend signed. 2 mos into lease girlfriend moves out,domestic violence she says. Lease up,boyfriend moves. Girl wants me to mail her half and refuses to give me permission to make check in both names and send check to boyfriend .there is no way boyfriend would be able to get girls signature and boyfriend wants both months. What do I do?

Connie LaVoie, Connecticut

A: You can not interfere with "affairs of the heart." You give her half- then he sues you because he paid it all. One check- both signatures, MAIL IT! Don't dawdle. If they forge each other's name (or tear the check in half fighting over it) that's their problem.

Dear Mr. Reno:
My tenant has not paid April or May rent and says she is in the process of filing bankruptcy. PACER search does not indicate a bankruptcy case for her yet. Is my best next step to go through the eviction process and try to get what I can out of her, or could it make better financial sense to try to just get her out now without payment if she agrees to an early termination of lease?

Thanks in advance.


A: You can ask, but I don't see it- She's broke- now, she likes the rent at your place (it's zero per month).

Start the eviction. Once in court, you can explore these options.

Dear Mr. Reno:
My question is how do I get my boyfriend of 14 years old out of my house, the house is solely in my name. He did give me a gift for the down payment. But for the last few months it has been tough living in the same house with him. I have two children he raised both of them they are 15 and 17 now. Well one of them is in St. Lukes Medical Center for wanting to kill his self because of his step-dad. My boyfriend (the step-dad) has a bad habit of calling them names and starts fighting with them. He doesnít know how to talk to them he is always screaming. Well since my son hasnít been home I havenít went home till late at night to stop from fighting. And the counselor at the medical center expresses the safety of my son they wonít discharge him because of this reason and I canít get him to leave or to go to a family session to talk the issues out. Can you tell me what I can do please.

Brenda K., Phoenix AZ

A: Oh my god. Tiene muchos problemas Brenda.
You belong in Family Court- not eviction court. Go for a restraining order. It's much quicker.
To evict in these facts is hard. You can serve him a notice to vacate, but you'll need a lawyer that knows what they're doing.

Published 2016-05-09

Dear Mr. Reno:
A potential Tenant executed a lease for a house , but before paying rent and security deposit or accepting keys, he decided to back out because of personal issues. Can I receive damages for lost rent until I am able to find another tenant?
Warm regards,

Sharon K., State of Texas

A: Fine! Do it! If you feel that strongly about it. Wait until you rerent, calculate the lost rent & then...
Go for it!

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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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