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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 (


Published 2016-04-29

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am selling my property, and there is a contingency with the sale that I have a tenant sign off that they will vacate the property (with proper and legal notice). The new owner is buying the house as an owner occupied and their financing requires them to live there. Is there a form you have for this? Or should I just edit either the nonrenew.doc or the pftermination.doc? Neither of those forms have a place where the tenant signs and agrees to move out. What is the legal and correct way to handle this? Oh, the tenant is currently month to month, and the property is in MA. Thank you for your help. Warm Regards,

Lisa T., MA

A: I have never heard of a form like that. LPA has lots of forms on this Website , but I don't think that's one. You can edit the non-renew doc, but you'll have to add "I agree to vacate on __________"


Published 2016-04-28

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a tenant that is due to sign a new lease on the first of the month. The tenant has been consistently late every month in paying rent. Sometimes 4 - 5 days, sometimes 10 days, depending on their payday. Is there any thing that I can add to the new lease that would encourage payment on the first of the month? I charge $15.00 per day for every day the rent is late after the 1st of the month. I have allowed them to paint the inside of the house in exchange for the late fees. I furnished all the material and they did the work. I allowed $12.00 per hour for them to work off the late fees. I think I should do a walk through before the new lease is signed Is that legal to do before I allow them to sign a new lease? They want to pay month to month. What is the best way to handle this situation? Thank you,

Loretto Cook

A: That's a lot of wheeling & dealing. I hope they did a good job painting.

The walk through is perfectly okay. If they want to go month to month, I'm on board with that too b/c you're really not thrilled with these tenants and may not want to be stuck with them another year.

Dear Mr. Reno:
Question: if someone signs 1 year lease on house rental property and gives deposit, and than decides to retract lease, not move in and terminate lease agreement, puts a stop pay on deposit, can landlord go after tenant? Lease agreement was signed Friday April 15 at 10:30 PM for a June 1, 2016 move in date and request to terminate lease agreement was Thursday April 21. The termination was requested 4 days after signing lease. Reason given was house needs lots of work and is filthy. Not happy with living conditions after viewing home 2nd time Thursday April 21, 2016. Tenant was unable to get back into house for second walk through due to realtor schedule. Once tenant finished walk through April 21, 2016, the termination request was given in writing and stop pay on deposit check was issued.

Their are several other interested parties in property and can rent for June 1, 2016. Their are no monetary losses as it stands now to either party.

Again, question is can tenant be sued for deposit?

Any questions, please contact me as I don't know how to handle this?


A: I get this question a lot in one form or another. It's a fact based dilemma. What was signed, what was said. There are so many details & even if I knew every detail I still couldn't predict what a particular small claims judge would do. And on top of all that, even you admit to no monetary loss. So give it up, L.R.


Published 2016-04-27

Dear Mr. Reno:
Question. My Sister moved in. 9 months later she is ruining our property, verbal abusing and accusing me of things. We(husband and I) want her out what can we do?

Renee, WA

A: 9 months is too long- cops won't help you.

She needs a 30 day Notice to Vacate. You're gonna need a local atty. This will be tricky.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have two persons on the lease as leaseholders. To take them to court, do I need to take both or just one person.... ?

Rosio Velazquez, Dallas Tx

A: Ah. A softball.

You should name everyone on your lease as defendants because they're all jointly responsible for all of the obligations under the lease.


Published 2016-04-26

Dear Mr. Reno:
I reside in . Our tenants caused a house fire 2/5/16. The lease was terminated a week later (officially). Due to fire investigations to determine cause of fire, tenants belongings weren’t moved out until 3/22/16. The state law requires 45 days for the security deposit to be returned. The tenants caused the fire (left a clothes steamer on and caught a power strip on fire and caused significant damages >$75k). Additionally, there was no forwarding address left. Do the 45 days begin from the date of the fire, or from the date they moved their items out? The house restoration services began the day after they moved out 3/23 and I was able to view the property for damages unrelated to the fire.

Am I still within my rights?

Your advice is greatly appreciated!

Nicki Thorne, Virginia Beach, VA

A: It's supposed to be from the date they gave possession, which is quite murky here. As a general rule, if their possessions are still there, they are still technically "in possession" So I go from there.


Published 2016-04-25

Dear Mr. Reno:
Your Advice please
Tenant decides not to renew 1 year lease. Gives 30 day notice, out by April 30, 2016. Tenant requests preliminary – pre walk though. Done 4/17. We all agree. Final cleaning done 4/30/2016. Final walk through schedule 4/30/2016, keys returned. We have listed property for Lease and are currently making necessary arrangements, etc.

Today tenant contacts us and says her new place will not be ready for 5 more days meaning May 5 is.

The only reference I saw in your tips to address this issue is to file a legal notice to leave. I’d prefer not getting legal if possible. Do we request rent for May, and prorate difference once she leaves? Or, state sorry, we have property on the open market? What is best customer service for current interested tenants?

What is your best advice. Note: she is a control freak and always tries to get the last say, etc.…,

Your assistance is greatly appreciated. Sincerely,

Kathryn McLaughlin

A: Well it's too late for a 30 day Notice. Why don't you get her to sign a paper that you can deduct a pro-rata from the security? If she wont sign or if she's not out by 5/5 let me know.

The other possibility would be to serve a 30 day notice to vacate by 5/31/16 just in case she doesn't leave 5/5. But you said you didn't want to get legal, so that's your call.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have been the leaseholder for an apartment in Palmdale, Calif. I allowed my daughter to move in here without an agreement about 1 1/2 years ago.. She pays half the rent. I want her out, and she refuses to go. Can I give her a 60-day notice? And would she have to abide by this?

Diana T., CA

A: Well that would be the place to start. But it may not end there. Let me know if she doesn't get the message.


Published 2016-04-21

Dear Mr. Reno:
Brenda let her daughter’s boyfriend move into the house, There was never an agreement made about paying any kind of rent beyond verbal but he does pay $100.00 monthly. He has become abusive to her daughter and threatening to her husband and has destroyed their personal property (a 27” flat panel TV Not sure of the value). After the abuse and threats started the police were called but they refused to do anything as he was paying rent. I am not sure any of this qualifies as a Renter/Landlord eviction case, but can she kick him out of the house legally and change the locks or will doing these things mean more trouble for her and her husband down the road?
Thank you.

Brenda K., Maine

A: Okay, so you change the locks when he's at work? Then he kicks the door in. Someone calls the cops. I wonder what they'll say. Oh, wait- I forgot.

We already know what they'll say.

(Serve 30 day notice to vacate.)

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have been staying with who I thought was my friend since 2010 for free. Known this person for 30 years. I now have been asked to leave. I am 60 years old disabled with bad heart, jobless and soon to be homeless I am scared , I have two cats I love, and don’t know what to do.
Thank You,

Marcia M. Woodbridge, Va.

A: So let me get this straight. You've been living rent free since 2010? And now you've been asked to leave and you want help? Seems like you've been given 5 years of help. What more do you want?


Published 2016-04-19

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have tenant who I brought a non payment petition and petition against. We went to court, and I settled to get them out by waiving the back rent owed, and got a stay of eviction through April 30th. They moved this weekend, took everything but the little odds and ends I guess they didn't want, couple glasses, broken bookcase, etc. The apartment was a new renovation when they moved in with top of the line everything, which the caused considerable damage. I overheard them talking about coming back to steal things area rugs etc. When they were leaving I asked for the keys, and was told its still their apartment until the 30th and can come and go as they please until then and was warned not to change the locks or they will call the police. I am not a young woman, and am scared to death of what they will do in the next two weeks. Is what they say true?

April C.

A: Scared to Death! Why? Is there a history of violence?
To me, things are going just swimmingly. They obviously will be out by 4/30/16 (unlike most of our lyin' tenants.) And they're not even keeping you in suspense to see if they'll leave since they've almost completed the move. So what's the beef? They'll be out in April, April!


Published 2016-04-15

Dear Mr. Reno:
We own a house with a legal accessory apartment. We were using the whole house until my daughter, her boyfriend and their child needed a place to stay. We put a door up to divide the downstairs and charged them a low amount of rent for the accessory apartment. They pay when they can and other times don't. We now feel the need to have our whole house back as we have custody of two grandsons and 2 dogs. We need more living space. We are cramped. We do not want to rent to anyone anymore. My daughter and her boyfriend refuse to look for another place. On what grounds can we evict them? There is no working this out. It is a toxic relationship of take and take some more.

Barbara L.- Long Island New York

A: Here we go again, Kinfolk misbehavin'. You should serve a 30 day Notice. Give them until 5/31/16. Serve the Notice by April 30, 2016 (tick-tock).

When June 1 rolls around, you'll need to evict as "holdovers".
(Maybe they'll vacate when they're supposed to, but I wouldn't count on it.) So sad.


Published 2016-04-12

Dear Mr. Reno:
I'm a landlord . My tenant was scheduled for a lock-out this Thursday.However, MY TENANT went to court and asked for 3 more month extension .Please help me to Get her out. This is her second extension .I lost faith in the system .she Violated the lease and still get her way with the court system,She always put her children as an excuse to stay , She's horrible...please help

Nawal A., Brick , NJ

A: Not much info here, but I doubt very much they'll give her three months. At most another 30 days. (They love to do that.)


Published 2016-04-11

Dear Mr. Reno:
My fiance and my father in law co-signed on our house, they had a falling out and now my father in law is drawing up legal documents to have us evicted. We have made every house payment on the house, we have paid for all the renovations on the house (carpeting, finishing walls, plumbing etc) there is no written agreement about the house being his v.s being ours. We have two small there anything we can do or are we just out?


A: You say Fiance cosigned? what did he sign? If he's on the deed or mortgage, you may have a leg to stand on.

You should see a lawyer. If he's taking you to eviction court, you need to remove it to a higher court, like Supreme Court.

Dear Mr. Reno:
Is nonrefundable portion of security deposit legal in NC?
  I have a tenant of 7 years who is now in arrears and is demanding their deposit back unless i give them an itemized list.  She just requested notice to vacate in 30 days.

  Back then, I used one of the original LPA forms that stated the following language....(see red) - i tailored the sample given as much as possible.  

"The $820 deposit shall be held by Landlord   __ with    "X" without   liability for interest as a cleaning and breakage deposit and as security for the faithful performance by Tenant of the terms of this Agreement.  $120.00 of the deposit shall be non-refundable for payment of carpet cleaning upon vacating the premises.  

I just found out that in NC - it says that we are not allowed to make part of the security deposit non-refundable due to carpet cleaning, etc.,   The tenant did sign the lease back then and is currently living month to month.  Am I lawful to still withhold since she signed the lease in 2009? or am I in error? I'm not sure when the NC law went into effect or did I just happen to use a lease that had language in it that should've been removed.  

At a minimum, I'm sure I can deduct the unpaid rent portion.  
  Thanks in advance for your counsel

J. Gowen - NC

A: First of all, the deposit is not even up for discussion until after the tenant vacates. Then you'll give the itemized list. (Security Settlement Statement) If the arrears in rent offset the security, won't that make the $120.00 a moot point?

Related Forms:

LPA Security Deposit Settlement Statement

The Security Deposit Return Time Chart

Landlord Tenant Law - State by State


Published 2016-04-07

Dear Mr. Reno:
my best friend needed a place for her and kids I said ok just pay me $333 like ur apt she owes me money. And is not moving out and took stuff out of room I put what left in garage with all her other stuff. Can I say she cant have until pays? Can I charge storage?

Hillary, ca

A: Can't. Can't.

You would need a detailed agreement (like at a storage facility) to do that. Do you have anything in writing? No? I didn't think so.

Dear Mr. Reno:
Looking for answers to questions Landlord-Tenant issues

1. When can a verbal contractual agreement supercede a written contract in landlord tenant case? Case law in Penn.? (A tenant told us he was going back to his homeland and might not be back due to visa problems. He offered that if we did not hear from him by November 26, we could give his apartment to someone else. When we did not hear from him by November 28, we took him at his word, cleaned out his apartment and rented it to someone else. Now, he is suing us for entering his apartment before the end of the month and clearing out his stuff. (Of course, we realize now, we should in the future get such an agreement in writing)

2. Is there countering case law regarding whether triple damages were NOT awarded to tenant in such cases where malicious intent could not be proved? In a case cited by opposing counsel, treble damages were awarded for reckless disregard for others, in that they threw away all the tenant’s things, especially that they callously threw away the tenant’s precious family momentos. In contrast in our case, although we removed all of the tenant’s possessions, we carefully and respectfully preserved and placed them in storage, including a separate bag of his diplomas and personal photos,etc.

3. Or cases of treble damages awarded in cases similar to our anticipated countersuit for abuse of process?

4. Is a “Warrant of Attorney” clause, which we routinely have included in all our leases for the last twnety-five years, actually illegal as claimed by defendant’s lawyer in initial Complaint? i.e.,“Furthermore, the lease improperly contained a Warrant of Attorney” clause, which is illegal and unconscionable in a residential lease.” ) Such document was drafted for us by a prominent Real Estate attorney, when we first bought a rental property
Thanks for any help.

H. Lerner

A: 1. If you can prove he said what you say, you've got a shot. I wouldn't argue that the verbal supersedes the written; it probably doesn't, but if he really said that, he authorized you to enter his apartment and do what you did.
But can you prove it?

2. Again, it all comes down to who the judge believes. If you are more credible than the tenant, the judge wont award treble damages. Also, your conduct in preserving his items is strongly in your favor.

3. Your counter-suit for abuse of process is a real long shot. Those suits never go anywhere. 4. Sorry, three to a customer.

LPA Note: On #4, In the event you are using an LPA Lease, the illegality clause may help with any clauses that are unenforceable locally .

Dear Mr. Reno:
If a tenant has been at the residence of a home for the more than three years , can they just take the tenant off the lease because he went to jail ?

Yesenia B. , San Diego California

A: The lease is the lease. It stays the way it is unless all the signatories (the landlord and ALL the tenants) agree to amend it.

Now once the lease expires, all bets are off. The remaining tenants tenants can sign by themselves.

I hope that answers your question.


Published 2016-04-06

Dear Mr. Reno:
We live in a 3 family private home. Our cars have been vandalized on the street and the man downstairs (in the basement apartment) threatened my cars a few days ago. We are not getting along with the people on the 1st floor and basement. They are a family. We have an absentee landlord. He agreed for us to put cameras outside our windows outside our 2nd floor apartment, which we did. The people downstairs complained and demanded we remove them. Now the landlord said we must remove them. Do we legally have to remove them or can we leave them up to protect our property? We were threatened and do not feel safe. Thanks so much! Sincerely,

Skye, NY

A: As long as the cameras are pointed at the cars only and don't view the interior of the house, it's not an invasion of privacy. Why you ask? Because people have no "expectation of privacy" in the street or on the driveway.

But you've got problems that go beyond the law. For example, what makes you think these cameras wont be "disappearing" on their own. Also, your landlord has asked you to remove the camera. So now you've got a problem with the landlord. I don't know how long your lease goes, but I'm sure it's not forever.

A mess.


Published 2016-04-05

Dear Mr. Reno:
My husband and I have a two family house. We live downstairs and we rented the upstairs to a gentleman and his daughter five years ago. Both of their names were on the 6th month lease. After it expired we did not renew and he continued living on a month to month basis. His daughter did not continue living here though and visited her father at times. Within the past year or so the father had a on and off again girlfriend or wife (not sure, don't even know her name) who I guessed stayed at times. We did not ask questions because with the exception of a few months the tenant paid rent.
Well the problem is that unfortunately, our tenant died at the end of February. All of his stuff is there. The girlfriend and the daughter have been coming and going since. I am not sure if she is upstairs (sometimes I hear them and sometimes I don't). Not sure if they are using the space for storage or living. Also, all of a sudden his/her family, whom we have never seen when he was alive are coming out of the wood works. We heard them one day upstairs and decided to ask them what was the situation (if they would pay rent or leave and they were very nasty) but still did not tell us their intentions. We have texted the daughter multiple times but no response.

So now we have a lady, whose name we don't even know and her family and friends who are basically squatting in our home.
We do not know what to do....any advice?


A: You have to commence eviction proceedings. There may be complications. But you have to start somewhere, and that's where to start. Do a non-payment (I'm assuming dead guy stopped paying.)

Unless you want to go in guns blazing and take matters into your own hands. (Not advisable.)


Published 2016-04-04

Dear Mr. Reno:
My brother has been living at my sister’s home for a few years, however has not been paying rent for months. After some violence and police being called he agreed to move out in two weeks, this is in the police report. He is now refusing to move and my sister is scared for her well being. Can the police make him move out?


A: If you can find a cop who will do that, get me his badge #. I'll be calling him regularly.

I really doubt it. They'll tell you to hire a lawyer and evict.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have advertised on the Westchester, NY, MLS to rent an apartment in a 2 family house that I do not live in. The apartment is an excellent unit and always gets offers quickly. I have received two full offers but I do not wish to rent to either one:

1st applicant:
A single man with bad credit and no job but has wealthy attorney brother (who will not live there) who will co sign and wants to pay rent in full for 1 year. He cannot supply tenant references as he has lived with his parents for appx. 50 years. The MLS listing states references and excellent credit required. Must I accept his brothers excellent credit when he doesn't live there?

2nd applicant:
Wants a military clause even though we are not in a military area -I simply cannot take that risk with the high cost of turning over the apartment to rent again. He has good credit.
The realtor is trying to tell me I have to have good cause for refusing a full offer, I always refuse tenants with bad credit but have not been approached with a cosigner before.
Can I remove the listing from the MLS and put it on the market again in 1 month to rid myself of the applicants that I don't want or am I bound to take one?

It's a legal 2 family with my nephew living in a 3rd unit in the garage as a caretaker. I sometimes stay with him and receive mail at the property. would this be considered 'owner occupied'?



A: Not my gig Lisa. (Check my answer to Manoj 3/31/16.)


Published 2016-04-01

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am new to the rental world and I thought you would be the best one to clarify my question below.
I have a potential tenant that I am screening currently. The applicant on the rental application states he owns the property he is living currently and is paying the mortgage for the last 6 months. However, the credit check through Experien or a Deed record search under his name on county records did not show any evidence that he owns the property. Is that good enough of a reason to decline his application?

Manoj, TN

A: It is, but you're out of my area. My job is getting'em out, not picking who gets in! But as far as I know, as long as you're not practicing unlawful discrimination, you can deny they app.

Dear Mr. Reno:
thanks, landlord is afraid husband will return and cause additional problems with the neighors, etc. cops have been called on numerous occasions and husband is accused of being very violent. it's at this point, landlord is leaning toward putting the house up for sale. he's had to evict the prior tenants and that took him over 3 years

Sue, NY

A: I would estimate- serve 30 day in April for 5/31/16. Court is in June. Probably out July, Aug. or Sept.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a four year tenant,and need him move A.S.A.P....How much notice do I need to give him....30Days or 60Days state is California ,,,,THANKS FOR THE HELP.....

Harry Carlson

A: 60 days.

Dear Mr. Reno:
about co-signer not going into eviction because primary residence fail to pay rent? Thank you,

Rory, Orlando, FL

A: Well you're not giving me much info there Rory, but when the rent isn't paid, regardless of by who, an eviction ensues. Then whoever's on the lease, gets named in the eviction. So the co-signer can get a money judgment against him if the primary doesn't pay.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I represented a landlord in Nassau County finding them tenants for their home a little over 2 yrs ago. The husband has been causing problems with the neighbors, where one neighbor actually filed an order of protection. We've also found out the husband had recently been arrested in an unrelated issue and is out on bail at the present time. Needless to say, they are having marital problems, the police have been called to the home numerous times. After speaking to the wife, she tells me he is no longer living in the home. However, the landlord is concerned the husband will eventually return and continue to cause problems.

Their lease was due to be renewed this past November but landlord did not renew, and the wife and her daughter are living there on a month-to-month basis.

What recourse, if any, does this landlord have if the wife refuses to leave the premises? Thank You,

Sue, NY

A: Its a month to month. Serve a 30 day notice.

Question: Why are you doing this? If she's paying the rent... Are you sure you want her out?

Let her give me a call. I do Nassau (631) 667-RENO.


Published 2016-03-30

Dear Mr. Reno:
I just bought investment property in Tulsa, OK. The property already has tenants in place with a lease. I am having trouble getting the lease agreements from the seller. Is there a time frame in which he must turn them over?
thank you,

Lori Hunter, OK

A: You already closed escrow?
Oh boy. That should have been part of the contract/closing process.

I'm assuming OK is one of those states where you buy real estate without a lawyer? Because you don't really need a lawyer. Which is true. You don't. Except for when you do, and in this case, you did!

Now you have a problem. My only suggestion is keep whining but with respect. Eventually, they'll fork'em over just to get you out of their hair.


Published 2016-03-28

Dear Mr. Reno:
Hi, I'm purchasing my house that me n my brother live in. My grandparents passed away 3 years ago and I have been paying every single bill, my brother never once paid a dime. This house went into foreclosure in January and the city has agreed to sell it to me. Milwaukee, Wisconsin when I purchase the house, my brother has made it very clear he is never leaving. Please tell me after I buy this house with my money I can get him out!!! PLEASE HELP

Madelin< WI

A: If you've got the $ to buy another house, why don't you? If you buy this house, you're buying a law suit and a lot of aggravation.

You'll get him out- but it could take a while (6-8 mos. cost 2-3 K) if he fights it.

Dear Mr. Reno:
tenant queens apartment. signed yearly lease for (2 years) , lease ended in September 2015, I did not sign new lease.I informed landlord,I would be buying a home. So I will not be signing,I let him know Im buying in December 2015, he had many new tenets come look at apt could not find a new tenet. Now 3 months later I'm leaving, and landlord says I am responsible for paying out the rest of the year. Am I responsible for the remainder if no lease has been signed. I have never been late on a payment and he never said anything about this until I let him know Im closing and moving out.

Julie, Queens New York

A: You lost me. The lease ended last Sept. Its a month to month. What is this "rest of the year" nonsense? I don't get it. As long as you gave 30 days notice, you're cleared for take off.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I represented a landlord in Nassau County finding them tenants for their home a little over 2 yrs ago. The husband has been causing problems with the neighbors, where one neighbor actually filed an order of protection. We've also found out the husband had recently been arrested in an unrelated issue and is out on bail at the present time. Needless to say, they are having marital problems, the police have been called to the home numerous times. After speaking to the wife, she tells me he is no longer living in the home. However, the landlord is concerned the husband will eventually return and continue to cause problems.

Their lease was due to be renewed this past November but landlord did not renew, and the wife and her daughter are living there on a month-to-month basis.

What recourse, if any, does this landlord have if the wife refuses to leave the premises? Thank You,

Susan Irwin, NY

A: Its a month to month. Serve a 30 day notice.
Question: Why are you doing this? If she's paying the rent... Are you sure you want her out?
Let her give me a call. I do Nassau (631) 667-RENO.


Published 2016-03-23

Dear Mr. Reno:
Hi - I inherited a 2 family home when my mother passed away. My sister lived in the upstairs apartment with my mom when she passed. I allowed my sister to stay there at 75% less than the fair market value of the apartment. I am now trying to sell and my sister won’t leave. Is this considered landlord/tenant relationship? Or is it different because it’s family and she practically lives there for free? I’m trying to determine what my course of action should be to have her removed. We live in MA. Thank you.

Catherine, MA

A: You need to petition court to be appointed in charge of the Estate. Once you're head honcho, you can lay down the law.


Published 2016-03-22

Dear Mr. Reno:
Hello there, I have a question about someone that has been living in my home rent free, lease free for over a year. This person used to be in a relationship with me but we have since broken up. We broke up at the end of June 2015. Since that time, I had verbally allowed this man to stay in MY home, which I bought 10 years ago, and he has no claim to any of my property or anything, until he was able to get on his feet.
It has now been an additional 9 months, and I do not want him in my home anymore. He pays for nothing, he does nothing to earn his keep or anything that I would consider trade for rent, he wont even do a dish or take out the trash. He is basically mooching off of me in every way, including eating my food, and I have had enough.
What are my rights? Must I evict him according to the Wisconsin state laws? This is his legal residence now, I understand. But he has no lease and never paid rent. So I wasn't sure what course of action I would have to take in this scenario.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you,

Emilie, WI

A: Unfortunately, you look like you're headed to eviction court. He's there over a year.

Why don't you start by serving a Notice to Vacate. You should use a lawyer so he knows you're serious. Maybe he'll start packing? Let me know.


Published 2016-03-17

Dear Mr. Reno:
My question is:
What legal right do I have to evict the illegal daughter of my tenant? My tenant is legal but I don't believe her daughter is a legal resident.
Thank you,

Natoya, New York

A: Sorry, you can't evict your tenant's guest. You can evict your tenant, for nonpayment or holdover and in rare cases on default- then the tenant's guest gets evicted as well.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I live in Northern California. My tenants and I signed a lease with no specific length and it also says it can be terminated by either party if either is unhappy. I am going to move back in my home and need them to leave. My question is how do I ask my tenants to move out? Is their a specific form I can use to ask them to move out? And do I need to give them a 30 day or 60 day notice? ,br> Thanks


A: 60 days written notice.

Helpful forms for terminating tenancy:
Termination of Tenancy Notice or
Notice of Lease Non-Renewal


Published 2016-03-16

Dear Mr. Reno:
My husband and I own our home and were contacted by his 20yr old sister to see if we would let her stay in our home temporarily so she could get a better job in our area (she is from GA). Wanting to help her get on a good path, we agreed verbally and stated she could stay free of cost until after her second real paycheck (after training) when she would find her own place. She was great until her job training ended. She began going out with friends drinking, trying to bring sketchy people to our home, smoking in the home (my husband and I are non smokers) and abusing our kindness: all things we told her were not allowed in our home. We told her she needed to make other plans and leave. She has her GA address on her drivers license but went behind our back and put our address on her work account so she receives mail- which we had stated she could not do. Despite us giving her 30 days, she refuses to leave and tried to threaten us with the police despite her ongoing illegal activity with shady people and alcohol. We called the police, but since she receives mail, they stated we needed to see the magistrate, which I did. The magistrate allowed me to file an eviction, but was unhelpful otherwise. It could be weeks before the eviction is even filed. The sister only comes home to grab clothes she needs but will not officially move out. My husband and I worry about the safety of our home and myself when one or both of us are away at work all day. Can we not kick her out immediately as there's no lease, no rent and she is a danger to us?
Thank you!

Lauren, Simpsonville, SC

A: No you can not kick her out immediately. You sound like you're on the right path, Lauren. Be a little patient and let the system play out. (You're probably saying "Easy for you to say", right?) Anyway, once again, "No good deed goes unpunished

Dear Mr. Reno:
If I move back in to my home, can I evict my ex. ? I have gone through normal eviction process. He is now paying rent but I am held hostage and can't move on. I want to sell the house and move on.

Kelly, Portland Oregon.

A: Your ex? What happened in divorce court? Wasn't that resolved?

Or did you just mean "ex" as in "ex boyfriend?" So he's a rent paying tenant now. So he gets a 30 day notice (not helping anyone today...)


Published 2016-03-14

Dear Mr. Reno:
Good morning, My name is Ana, I live in Brooklyn. My lawyer sent to the housing court the affidavit of merit and the affidavit of investigation and after 3 weeks we still waiting for any answer.
Why it takes so long a warrant to be signed?
Thank you very much for your consideration.

Ana, NY

A: You are in New York City. The worst place in New York State (& maybe the country) to do an eviction. Don't blame your lawyer. It's a jungle out there.

Dear Mr. Reno:
My question is: What is my legal obligation to a tenant who is being displaced for a few days to make repairs? Am I required to pay for a hotel or just pro-rate his rent? And if it is the hotel, what is reasonable?
thank you.

Brad, California.

A: From what I've seen in Court, tenants have successfully "offset" their rental obligation by hotel bills in these situations. (What's reasonable is up to the judge. That's why we got'em.)


Published 2016-03-10

Dear Mr. Reno:
My tenants shower wall is leaking. I Put up shower curtain as temporary measure until we can find a convenient time for everyone (she has children) to repair shower wall.

For nearly 2 years I have bugged her to let me know when she's on vacation so that I can fix the wall while they are away. She has never complied. Now she is complaining that the shower curtain is causing a mold issue and she wants the wall fixed right away. In addition she wants me to pay for a hotel while the shower is being fixed.
The shower works fine with the additional shower curtain. I have pictures and there is no mold.
Must I comply with her unreasonable demands?
Thank you

Cindy Steckler, Connecticut

A: Take charge Cindy. Schedule your repairs. Forget "her convenience". That ship sailed. You notify her one week in advance of the date & time- regular mail AND certified. If she doesn't grant access- you're OFF THE HOOK.


Published 2016-03-09

Dear Mr. Reno:
My tenants have a pet clause in their expired lease. The dog died and they have a new dog that is dangerous. How can I evict them?
Thanks. I live in Florida.

Reneen, FL

A: Here we go again.  Dogs, dogs, dogs.  All I hear about anymore is can I evict my tenant and her dog?  (I need to make a standard answer to explain why that dog wont hunt.)

A lease does not end automatically just because it's violated.  So a lease violation doesn't, by itself, give you the right to evict.

HOWEVER, most leases (but not all) contain provisions that give you the right to terminate upon default.  So if your lease has such a provision, you can pursue termination- but its not so simple.  You have to follow a specific procedure set forth in the lease.

And when the lease is terminated, that's not the end- it's only the beginning.  Now you have the to evict the tenant as a holdover.  Some states still require a 30 or 60 day Notice to Vacate- other's do not- it's complicated.

Then you get to eviction court and everything gets dismissed because the tenant got rid of the dog.

Two days later, the dog came back.

Any questions?


Published 2016-03-07

Dear Mr. Reno:
I work for a manufactured home park and I have a tenant who is allowing her 16 year old nephew and his girlfriend to live with her. She owns the trailer, but it's on our lot. Since she already has her mother and husband living with her, I told her she couldn't let them live there. She claimed that since they're underage and she owns her home that there is nothing I can do. Is she correct?
Thanks so much for your help!

Denise- Virginia

A: I have absolutely no idea. There's so much involved here. You have your particular lease provisions; you have the home park rules & regulations to consider (is maximum occupancy an issue?); and then you have the whole family member issue where some states and localities have banned "no family member" leases. So you really have to ask a local attorney with trailer/home park expertise about this one. Sorry Denise.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a tenant 3 months behind in rent that we were scheduled for eviction in court tomorrow. I just found out she has moved out in the last day or so.Can I get a lien on her vehicle or what recourse do I have to collect? I don't look for her to show up tomorrow but who knows.She is a house keeper so Garnishment is probably out of the question I guess

Rick, Virginia

A: Sorry. Your tomorrow is my yesterday.
How'd it go?


Published 2016-02-29

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have actually used you a quite a few times! Highly recommended and was going to call tomorrow. So I heard from my upstairs tenant and neighbors that my downstairs tenant in west Babylon has a lot of traffic at all hours and they believe they are selling drugs. If they get caught can house be seized? House is legal two family with rental permits. Thanks !

David, W. Babylon, NY

A: It's rare, but possible. They would have to prove you had knowledge.
What's the plan?

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a tenant who, without landlord’s approval, decided she could save money by using electric space heaters throughout the home instead of paying for the butane for central heat. She has been in the home since July 11, 2015.

She called me on February 8, 2016 stating that the home had electrical problems because the breakers kept tripping since she started using the free-standing electric heaters. The home is a very nice home built in the 90’s, and I have rented out since approx. 2000. Never had electrical problems. I tried to explain to the tenant that those heaters draw a lot of amps, and that perhaps the 15 or 20 amp. breakers would not support those electric heaters. She said they only had little fans in them. I replied that the fans blow over heating elements that draw a lot of amps, and add that with tv’s, lights, etc. and there must be overload. She accused me of renting her a bad place with electrical problems. I informed her that those electrical heaters were dangerous and could start a fire. She would not accept that information. I had an electrical inspection. He said there is nothing wrong with the property. Now she is complaining about a faucet. She attacked me personally and stated she is going to let everyone know the type of person I am and I will never be able to lease a home again…(slander) She wants me to find a new tenant. I will gladly.

Now, what forms should I send her to terminate her lease for violations? I know she violated Heating and Cooling Systems paragraph. I know As Is agreement needs to be enforced. I did execute move-in inventory and condition form, with addendums including the smoke detector and no-email addendums. I noted one bedroom smoke detector missing, and it was taken apart and sitting on her dresser. She sent me email today stating she wants to find someone to take her lease so she can move. She states she has been advised to communicate only per email to me. I called her and told her lease does not allow her email communication and that she needs to call and put all communication in writing to me. Should I keep email she sent? I am not responding to info in it.. Should I block her emails? She has informed me in email that I am to call her at work only, and not on her cell as agreed in listing areemet,,,and no later than 4 PM each day, and to give her notice ahead of time when I want to show to perspective tenants. My lease states that I may show at reasonable hours without notice to perspective tenants… Should I give her a 3 day notice for violating Heating and Cooling Systems agreement? It will not get better.. Am I able to hold her to reletting charge?


A: A mess!
You are not going to get an eviction for lease violations, so just forget it. But she wants out. So what's the problem? Find another tenant and rerent. Communicate with her however.

You and your tenant actually agree on something. She doesn't belong there.

Lease violation forms will most likely escalate the problems with her, so instead consider an Early Lease Termination Agreement to get her to agree to leave without a more costly eviction. The last thing you need is a long drawn our court eviction with the tenant making safety and habitability accusations.


Published 2016-02-26

Dear Mr. Reno:
I live with my Father and Brother. I was on General Assistance, telling my brother that I would help out with the bills monthly. I received $221.00 giving $100 plus $176,00 food stamps. I found out today that my brother is co-tenant with my dad. Can he do a eviction without my dad’s consent.

Tina Thompson, Milton California

A: Another family affair?

I'm assuming when you say co-tenant you mean co-owner? Yes, one owner can evict- but don't need both, however, if Dad comes to court he can put the Kabosh on it.

Dear Mr. Reno:
Went to court over non payment, been 2 months and he's still in the property, been gone for 2 weeks? What do I do

Jack McCauley, South Carolina

A: So what happened in Court? Didn't you get the eviction warrant? What gives Jack?

Dear Mr. Reno:
I need to know if there is anything i can do about losing my home. i tried to give the bank a payment they wouldn't take it so i filed bankruptcy.
My lawyer didnt let the bank know i was in the process of fileing i gave the lawyer his money to file it now the bank just let me know they put my home for sale the bank brought it back now they said i losted it. what can i do

Donna, LA

A: It's too late. The bankruptcy was a good idea, but you had to file before the sale. Its not enough that you hired an attorney and was "in the process."

Once the bank buys it back, there's no recourse. You need to start looking for a rental.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I'm a landlord with two single family rentals in Pennsylvania. My sister just died in a car crash last week and her New Jersey complex would not let family into the home and said that it was the law.

I have been trying to find out what law that it is and how to understand this in the event that one of my tenants dies.

Can you please help me out with some information.
Thank You so much.

Scott D'Oria, Levittown, PA

A: Sorry to hear about your sister, Scott.

The situation with your tenants is when landlord/tenant law meets the law of Estates. The law of Estates wins. Only the Executor (or Administrator) of the Estate has legal authority. Usually, the family members just clear out the unit. But in some situations, landlords just have to sit back and wait for an Executor to be appointed before they can act.

Dear Mr. Reno:
There are 2 tenants on my lease and one of them wants to move out. The other tenant is amenable to this and wants to continue living at my rental house and honor all terms of the lease. How do I remove the other tenant from the lease?

Catherine Miller, GA

A: Well this is only about the 100th time I got this question. What is this obsession you landlords have with changing the lease? Leave'em both on. They're both liable until it ends.

When the lease is up, you can renew in just one name. Happy?

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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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