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Ask the Eviction Attorney | Landlord Tenant Law Q&A

Eviction Attorney

Q&A with John Reno, Eviction Attorney

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

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

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

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

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



If you are an LPA Landlord with a tenant problem you'd like to ask a question about, please e-mail me your question.

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

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

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



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Recent Court Victory

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



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Published 2021-09-02

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have an unmarried couple that moved in May 2021 and have not paid a full months rent yet (other than May). Do I have to take them to court before reporting then to the credit bureaus? Any advice on how to garnish wages?
Thanks,

Steven Roberts

A: That's many steps ahead of where you are. You need a money judgment first, b/4 you report or garnish. Commence a nonpayment eviction at this time.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I own a property in Wheat Ridge Colorado. Tenants out, was just awarded over $5900 back rent and second judgement over $600 for damages (net security deposit). Tenants currently reside in Cheyenne Wyoming. Local banks told me on the phone that they will not accept Judgement and that I need paperwork from an attorney. They own two cars and are currently renting an apartment. They dont have much money but I want to get as much as I can without spending more money/time.

Questions:
1) Do I have to hire an attorney to collect?
2) Can I seek Title of vehicles

Have an Awesome Day!

Laura M., Denver Colorado

A: You need an attorney because you've ventured into another state. Your judgment needs to be filed in that state to be recognized there.

As far as the bank accounts & the cars, it can be done but do you have the forms & how good are you at playing attorney?

Published 2021-07-06

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am trying to track down an address for a moved out tenant who did not leave a forwarding address. This is about to happen a second time in two months for me. In both situations, there will be no security deposit refund due to property damages. These damages exceed the security deposit, so I am in need of finding an address to serve the claim in court I'm filing. When it comes to getting an address and eventual workplace and/or bank account info, I was told to hire a private investigator.
I know I must have the tenants authorization to run a credit report, so that won't be an option. Would I be able to attempt to obtain this information from an online service such as "peoplefinder" or "beenverified" and remain legal (i.e. is this a valid/legal reason to utilize an online service in hopes of getting an address to sue them in court? Or must I use a private investigator to perform and obtain such information?

Thank You.

Mark R.

A: I have the same problem. I don't know a short cut other than the private detective. They have access to data banks that I don't. (Personally, I think they're doing it illegally! But that's not my problem.) The problem is the expense. And you may be seeking a judgment you'll never collect- so that's a dilemma.

As for "people finder", etc., my understanding is that they want $ up front. I suspect they are also illegally accessing data banks, or maybe they have some way of circumventing the law- I don't know- But again that's their deal. My problem is the expense.

In my case, I'm looking for a judgment of about $2000. Don't forget, finding them is just the beginning- you still have to sue them. How much time, effort and expense should I go through to get a $2000 judgment which may be uncollectable anyway?

If you have success with this, please let me know. I am "needing direction."

Published 2021-06-29

Dear Mr. Reno:
My brother is currently unable to go to the eviction courts at the moment because he is in the hospital and unable to walk/stand right now.

Question: I do not have Power of Attorney, but I do have two letters signed by him stating that anyone can speak to me on his behalf on matters concerning him and stating that I am his Property Manager /Landlord Representative. Is this good enough for me to take a tenant to eviction court without my brother with me?

Patricia C., Texas

A: Maybe, but probably not.>p> You are not a licensed property manager. You have no documentation, such as a lease, that designates you as property manager. So it's a stretch.

You're better off with a power of attorney that lists "litigation" as a power. (Note: even that's not a guarantee. Some judges still wont allow it. But your chances are much better.

Published 2021-06-16

Dear Mr. Reno:
Condo assoc board president is a bully to the older residents in the community (60+ years of age and up) and using the association funds for his personal use. A few former board members have proof of this misuse of funds.He is a control freak and not going to step down easily. The other 4 members of the board are on his side. For example: dining out for behind closed door meetings, glasses of wine, painting the inside of his own condo, paying himself above market wages for menial jobs relating to the up keep of the road & landscaping, paying to have new front door, digital lock hardware installed on his personal front door and the list goes on and on. All are clearly not part of the associations responsibility.

Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you

The plan is to vote him out with more than 51% of the votes. A group of 10 residents are planning to go door to door and acquire the voters signatures. We think we can easily obtain more than 60 votes for the new president.

Robert S., Michigan

A: Well good luck with the vote. This guy sounds like a real ____ bag (fill in the blank!) But he's got the support of the Board b/c they're enjoying the wine & other perks. If you don't win the vote, you'll need a lawyer to sue the Board for Breach of their fiduciary obligations. I haven't personally ever seen it, but it has been done.

Published 2021-06-08

Dear Mr. Reno:
I live in California and currently renting a ADU to a couple. The husband listed as the only signed tenant on the lease and he has been the one paying rent. The lease expired this Sept 1st, 2021. The wife and her 10 year old son are listed as authorized “occupants” on the lease.

The husband has issue with the wife and texted me a 30 day notice last month ( May) to end the lease early. He already left the house but the wife and her son still live there. The wife and her son just came to America less than a year. The rent for this month (June) has not been paid. Do I still post a late payment notice even though the husband does not live there anymore? Am I okay to refuse rent from the wife? If she still refuse to leave, what is the process to evict the wife? Thank you so much for your help as I’m still new to this.

Koden, CA

A: Yes. No. Here's the deal:

You say the Husband "left the home" but he really hasn't. He's still there "in spirit" b/c he left the kinfolk. Legally, under landlord-tenant law, he's what we call "in possession".

You give him all the notices and follow all the procedures as would evict a non-paying tenant still in possession.

Published 2021-05-05

Dear Mr. Reno:
Unfortunately, I just learn my tenant died, and has two other people still living in the home. Beside hiring an eviction attorney, which LPA form should I use first to evict them.

I was in the process of finalizing the sale of the home to the man that died, so now I need to find a new buyer. The lease said only one person was allowed to live at the home, so I don't know who these people are. The one year lease had expired and it was month to month plus utilities.
Any direction would be appreciated.
Thanks

Eric F.

A: What a mess! You need to serve a notice to vacate on the tenant (who died) by "substituted service", and on John Doe & Jane Doe. You'll need an attorney for this. Very complicated. Worse case scenario, you may have to apply to have an administrator appointed for the tenant's estate.

Start with the notice to vacate. (Termination of Tenancy Notice) Good luck!

PS: Keep in mind that depending on what state you're in, you may be limited by your state's limitations on evictions. For example, in NY just extended the moratorium on evictions to September 2021.

Published 2021-03-09

Dear Mr. Reno:
I own 4 efficiencies in a condominium complex.
The HOA is charging me a huge amount for utility bills and does not want to provide any details about how they calculate it. There is no meters and the calculations is done through an allocation model by a third party. I finally decided to pay a fix amount for my utility bills ($20 instead of $80 or $100) in order to push them to provide more information.
What should I do?

I appreciate your help.
Thanks,

Patrick A.

A: You're on a course to eventually get sued and/or evicted, and here's the thing: If you go to war over this, you will end up in court where your legal fees will be 10X what you're complaining about. So that's a problem. In Court, you'll get full discovery of every tidbit of info, but it will cost you thousands in legal fees- so that's a non-starter.

All I can suggest is an avid aggressive letter campaign. Carbon copy everyone, second request, third request, certified mail, etc. etc. Eventually, they'll come clean just to get you off their back.

That's my advice.

Published 2021-03-07

Dear Mr. Reno:
Tenant is leaving of free will ­ been a good tenant - no rent due. However, he has a 14'x16' shed on the property that he may not move on or before the final day of his Lease ­ which states that he must remove all personal property on or before the expiration date of the Lease.

What is my recourse?? Can I take possession of the shed (which I just found out he never got a permit to install nor wire up)? It¹s blocking access to the rear of the property and thus the rear entrance, which the new tenant needs.

Being in the state of Maryland, - if he in fact does not move it on the due date ­ how should I proceed to acquire his shed - so I can move it from blocking access without the worry of damage due to the move, etc.???
Respectfully,

Martin, Easton, MD.

A: My tenant left me a shed and I was glad. I've been using it for years. You no like? I don't get the part where it blocks in the new tenant. Isn't the new tenant replacing the guy with the shed?

Anyway, if it is not nailed down with a foundation then it's considered "personal property." If the tenant doesn't take it, you can consider it "abandoned" after 30 days and dispose of it.

As far as how to move it- sorry- not my department.

Published 2021-01-12

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have some questions since I have a situation with a tenant.

They have not been paying the rent and were refusing to leave, finally I had to pay the first month for a new apartment and help them to move out. They already left my property but they took the keys with them and still they have stuff at my house.

It is my understanding that the law protects them In this case, and technically I am not allowed to enter to my property? I need to have their stuff out but they are not reply ion to my phone calls or give the keys back to me.

What can i do?

I would very much appreciate some guidance

Sincerely

Alexander Fernandez, MN

A: To enter or not to enter: That is the question.

I would say what it comes down to would a reasonable person, given all the circumstances, conclude that the tenant has abandoned the property? So you say they left stuff. Is it garbage, any TV's, any valuables? That's the issue.

It's your call, but if they're really moved out, you shouldn't have to go through the whole eviction process. Well, that's my opinion.

Published 2021-01-06

Dear Mr. Reno:
I recently sold a duplex in Philadelphia. The title company tells me that I have to pay past due gas bills for the first floor tenant who still lives in the duplex and still pays something on the gas bill monthly as well as the second floor tenant who moved out and had an outstanding bill which the gas company states that tenant is also paying something on the gas bill monthly. The gas bills were always in the tenants name and I never had a gas account for that property. The gas company does not have a lien on my property for that and I was never given any notice from the gas company about any past due bills that I would have to be responsible for. What can I do to fight this?

Best regards,

Ron B., Philadelphia PA

A: They say "you can't fight City Hall" so that's where you are. Those governmental agencies have the power to lien your property without taking all the steps of a normal creditor. You say there's no lien- I disagree. If there was no lien the title co. wouldn't be raising it.

Pay it. Sue the tenant.

Published 2021-01-05

Dear Mr. Reno:
My question is...
If tenant owes 500 dollars when I filed in small court and then pays 500 dollars but again owes $ 700 when we got date for hearing. Will my case be dismissed or I can continue to demand $ 700 under breach of contact?

Shah, LPA Member in NJ

A: Not to worry. These things happen. As long as the tenant was in default when commenced, you can amend at the hearing to reflect payments and/or new arrears.

Published 2020-12-21

Dear Mr. Reno:
We have 15 low income units in Spring Lake, North Carolina which the tenants we inherited when my husband bought the properties in March. Because of the Covid 19, the tenants not only have stopped paying rent for months and continue to trash their units but are also not willing to move out when the lease expires. One of them also is involve in drug dealings that recently there was a drive by shooting where this tenant occupies. There was a police report with the incident. My question is what can we do as landlords to evict these tenants?
Thank you for your response.

Jessica, Spring Lake, North Carolina

A: The quickest way is nonpayment proceedings. Are the eviction Courts in Spring Lake open? You'll have to wait for that. And you need assignment of the lease to you from the prior owner. Did you get that at closing? Hope so.

Published 2020-12-14

Dear Mr. Reno:
Hello, I had a tenant who destroyed my home. I had to incur a lot of expense to repair the home and I need to recuperate the money I had to spend. I live in the NY, my property is in NY but the past tenant now lives in Florida and I have all of their new contact information at their new Florida address. Can you please tell me the process to recuperate the expenses I incurred from these damages and losses? Thank you

Paul, NY

A: That's a pretty tall order Paul. You've got at least two big problems.

Number one, I hope you like to fly. You may have a few plane trips in your future. As a general rule, to sue someone, you go to them. New York Courts will not have jurisdiction to nonresidents. You need to file in Fla.

Number two, if you won a judgment, you would need to know their employer to do a wage garnishment, or where they bank. Even the banking wont help unless there's enough money to grab.

So that's a real long shot, but may be worth it if they own or plan to own real estate in Fla. If you think they value their credit, you may want to post the debt on their credit report. This ability is a free bonus with your LPA membership!

Published 2020-12-07

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a signed commercial lease (the form created by LPA). The commercial building is located in Georgetown South Carolina. The term of the lease is three years. After only five months, tenant who is a realtor has sent an email on 12/3/2020 saying he plans to vacate in 30 days. He further indicated that the LPA commercial lease is not enforceable in South Carolina. Is this an accurate statement? If not, what should I do to offset/minimize my losses? How should I respond to his email.

The tenant has indicated that he would work to find someone to sublet. However, he sent the aforementioned email saying he plans to vacate is 30 days which is not in compliance to paragraph #25 or #27 in your commercial lease agreement. Not sure what to do?

James Mobley, SC

A: There may be individual penalties and charges that are unenforceable as the laws change in various states- but that doesn't mean the whole lease is null & void. He's still on the hook for three years.

Tell him you'll give due consideration to an assignment- but if that falls through, you expect rent paid or you'll SEE HIM IN COURT!

Published 2020-10-13

Dear Mr. Reno:
Can I terminate the lease of a tenant in a rent control area who has only occupied rental for less than 12 months?

We are in the process of completing the purchase for a duplex in Los Angeles (area code 90038). The duplex is in a rent control area and the one side of the duplex is occupied by a tenant that signed to lease the property until 2021 for $800 below market value.

After doing some research I found this:

"Vacant Units and Removing Tenants: If a rental unit is vacant, a landlord is permitted to reset the gross rental rate for the unoccupied unit to market rental rates. (Civ. Code § 1947.12(b)). The statute, however, prevents a landlord from terminating the tenancy of a tenant that has continuously occupied a rental unit for at least 12 months, unless the landlord has “just cause” for removing the tenant. (Civ. Code § 1946.2(a)). The statute establishes two different “just cause”

Will we be within our right to break the lease?
Thank you!

Andre, California (90038)

A: Probably not. How would you explain it? You're just doing it to raise the rent. They don't want that. That's a rent control.

Published 2020-10-01

Dear Mr. Reno:
Tenant Landlord laws for residential security deposits
Can you help me with a question I have regarding security Deposits on a residential lease when a tenant moves out of a residential property and does not leave a forwarding address or does not return the key to landlord?

What is the landlord obligated to do if they don’t have a forwarding address to send the tenant the required inventory checklist of deduction charges from their security deposit via U.S. mail with any money owed back to tenant as required by law?

The tenant also did not return the key.
If you can point me to information on this particular situation that would be great.

Thanks,

Jeree, Lake Stevens, WA

A: You send your personal check to their last known address (your house) certified mail. If they don't claim it and they haven't forwarded their mail, oh well- not your problem. (Check is only good for six months.)

Published 2020-09-25

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have the attached writ of possession issued, but the Sheriff’s department refuses to execute it. According to the legal department of the Police, the refusal is based on oral instruction from the Miami-Dade Mayor to the Police Department.

My eviction is not COVID-19 related and there is no legal norm in Miami-Dade that bans all eviction, except those related to COVID-19.

What can I do to force the Sheriff’s department to comply with judicial order and execute the attached writ of possession?

Milena M., FL

A: This is happening all over. It's the governors. They're issuing executive orders that warrants (or writs) from before covid will not be executed unless they're re-conferenced. What a pain! The governors, tell the mayors & on and on.

Published 2020-09-15

Dear Mr. Reno:
Hi, I rent a room out in my house. I also live with my 19 year old daughter so three of us live in the front house. I rent out an adu on the same property, it's r1 zone. I'm in Burbank Ca. I would like to get some help on getting rid of the tenant for being a nuisance. She is up to date on rent but a horrible nuisance to us all. Is the person living in my room a tenant or a lodger? Do I have to register my room as a rental before getting started on the notice for her to quit. I would like some help and get started asap. Please let me know if you're available. Thank you,

Karen K., Burbank, Ca

A: Well for starters, she is a tenant- not a lodger. A lodger would stay like for a week or month. This is a long term month to month tenant.

You have no rent default, so she needs a Vacate Notice. I'm pretty sure that California required 60 days. She needs to be served.

By the way, you can forget the "nuisance" angle. That wont fly. She just gets a Notice to Vacate like any other tenant.

Published 2020-09-11

Dear Mr. Reno:
Thanks for your time and advise in advance!
My ex-tenant refused to pay her outstanding water bill charges ($4K) due to a running toilet before she moved out from my town house located in Massachusetts that has one water meter only and directly connected to the unit. She signed the lease which clearly stated the tenant responsible for paying the water and sewer. She agreed and had been paying the water bills for 5 years under her name in the account until this incident happened. After she left, she had her attorney asked us to pay the $4K bill and reimburse her the last 5 years of water charges since I did not file a certificate with the Board of Health and had no rights to charge her water usage. The attorney also asked me to return her $1K security deposit since I didn’t have the bank account # written on the lease (I only provided the name of the bank). I have her SD saved in an escrow account. I have spent more $ than her SD to clean, fix, and paint my town house within 30 days after she left. I wrote her a note (on the 27th date) listing all costs and requested her to pay the $4K water bill but she disregarded the damages and hired an attorney and sent me the letter threatening that they will take action.

Q1. Is it true the landlord need to file a certificate at the BOH to charge tenant water in MA?
Q2. Who responsible for the outstanding water bill?
Q3. Do I need to pay her back the 5 years water charges especially the water bill is under her name.
Q4. Should I fight with BOH of asking me to pay the bills not the tenant since it’s her account with her name?
Q5. Is the signed lease a binding legal doc that overthrow the tenant’s requests and the certificate rule?
Q6. Is the bank account # required to print on a lease for the security deposit? Do I need to give her the $ back?
Q7. What would u suggest me to do now?
Thank you so much!!!

Noelle, Massachusetts

A: So over the last five or ten years, states have been 'cracking down" on shared meters. Originally, it was just electric, but now their going after water too.

They think the tenants are getting ripped off. So the solution is to make sure the landlord gets screwed- and the undeserving tenant hits the jackpot.

They don't care what your agreement is. Theses utilities say their rules override everything- even where I had a stipulation "so ordered" by the judge- the electric company didn't care & made the landlord pay back two years.

Good news is as long as you had the security in a separate account, I wouldn't worry about the account number.
That's all I got.

Dear Mr. Reno:
My tenant is running up high water bills. Previous bill was $500, this month $600, recently found water hose running in backyard, this morning locked faucet running. Plumber reports no leaks. What do I do ? Thanks.

Beverlee K.

A: What's up with the lease Bev? Ending soon, I hope.

Not much here except you can serve a notice to vacate when the lease is up. Would the tenants clean up their act if they understood this is a problem and if they don't knock it off "we will not be inclined to renew your lease upon its expiration". Try that?

Published 2020-08-31

Dear Mr. Reno:
My sister and I own the above single family home. We have a alcoholic landlord/attorney roommate who's behind over 2 1/2 yrs in rent ($1,000/month). A certain Jaime Lathrop, Esq recently successfully defended us against an illegal lockout in Housing Ct. Question: Housemate returned to subject premises after being hospitalized 2-3 months and then rehab re detox from alcohol/heart attack. She trashed bedroom, bed had to be tossed, etc...defacated/urinated on floor in alcoholic stupor, etc... She is basically squatting, under Covid is there nothing now that can be done?
Thank you for your attention in this matter.
Sincerely

Barbara S., Bklyn NY

A: O.M.G.

An alcoholic attorney roommate? But you say she's squatting- a tenant does not become a squatter. You mean now, because she's not paying? She's just a deadbeat tenant now.

So if she's your "roommate", that's a problem. One tenant can't evict another. Unless the cops will help, probably not, its up to the landlord to evict her for nonpayment. The present Covid moratorium is up October 1st. Until then, I guess, watch your step?

Dear Mr. Reno:
Good Morning and thank you for taking the time to help me with my dilemma,
i am a Senior Citizen who has rented my house for almost 20 years to the same familyll
In the past when they have had meidcal problems i have worked with them as they are in older age with a teen son The husband has had some severe medical issues recently and i have worked with the spouse to accommodate their late payments as she has assured me she has a disability check to cover the rent.
as of two weeks ago i sent her an instant message to remind her to pay the july rent and she assured me it was "in the mail" after ten days i sent another im and received no response although i know she had read my message. i wired a few days and re messaged her asking to please let me know when i can expect payment before moving into the month of September

As of September 1 they will owe me 4500 and i need to address this before it gets any higher. How do i do this and since i know eviction has been stopped til the end of the year , how do i send a demand letter/documentation so that i can pursue this in a timely manner? Thank you for your time and assitance in this matter
Sincerely

Maureen A

A: So cutting through all the medical issues and other extraneous information that my readers can't help telling me! (LOL), this is really just another nonpayment eviction. Most states (you didn't tell me yours-thanks- the one thing I needed!- You really cause me in a mood Maureen) as I was saying, most states require some sort of preliminary notice "pay or quit", "Notice of Default", etc., which you are free to serve, mail or transmit during the pandemic, & then its a nonpayment eviction paper, but, oh well, wait for court to open.

Published 2020-08-21

Dear Mr. Reno:
Two questions. . First, is Cuomo's no work/no rent due to expire tomorrow ? Aug 20th ? I am unable to find any information online regarding an extension of this.

Two, when it does expire, the clauses in that "executive order" will also be null and void, correct ?

Since last night I have rewritten the LPA lease I use. It now states that the cost of repairs must be reimbursed on demand. And I removed any mention that tenants can address repairs themselves.

This really is a bad thing for landlords in NY. I put this entire thing on his piece of garbage attorney general, abusing her office to try and right her personal grievances and not doing what is in the best interest of the people of NY.
Thank you again.

Tim, NY

A: It's extended now to October 1, 2020. Disappointed

Published 2020-08-20

Dear Mr. Reno:
Tenant’s lease contract has expired. She is 2 months past due. In Pennsylvania. Am I able to give notice and have her out? Covid 19?

Doug H., PA

A: You are able to "give notice" but not "have her out": we're still in a moratorium. But please start it and take as many steps as they will allow you to take.

Published 2020-08-11

Dear Mr. Reno:
John I have a tenant in my house that wrote a protective order on me and now I'm homeless for two months now I've evicted her three times she has stayed the third RIT and it goes into Superior Court in a whole zona here what do you suggest?

Bubba

A: It just gets worse and worse. O.M.G! This is what happened to Matthew Modine in the movie "Pacific Heights." That film is every landlords nightmare. Hopefully, the protective order is only temporary. You need a criminal lawyer to help you with that. Modify the "keep away" order to a "refrain from" order.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I LIVE IN RENO NV. I RENT A SPACE IN AN RV PARK,I OWN THE RV. SEASONALLY EVERY YEAR RENT GOES UP IN SUMMER AND DOWN IN WINTER. I RECEIVED A RENT INCREASE NOTICE. DO I PAY INCREASE OR IS IT INVALID TO COVID CRISIS? THANK YOU,

JESSICA, RENO, NV

A: That's a tough one Jessie because it's varying state to state. In NY, they're making it tough to go over 5% increase, but even in this blue democrat state you can raise it. I don't know what red (or purple) Nevada has done lately. Sorry.

Dear Mr. Reno:
Question and backstory:
The tenant ok lease moved out months ago, but also literally handed the keys to unit to a corner street group of felon homeless families where more than 10 squatters live and remain at since there move out, and have caused us great fear, anger and lack of rights in Florida it seems.

We don’t know if we can claim abandonment of unit as they told police they were moved, and their stuff when we went to check unit was empty. These squatters have maintained they are her guests although she doesn’t live there anymore. The unit is 300 sq ft! Moments later these squatters brought a futon and crash there now. They go off site leaving one person to man the fort. Police are of no help at all. In fact I think they are moments from trying to arrest us for something!! The squatters broke the key in lock so now are having to open and climb thru windows (told cops they don’t have key as they shouldn’t but he’s allowed to break windows and such to enter) the answer is yes since his residence. I have to puke every time I hear that: he’s a squatter not a tenant!

This tenant really did a number on us.We have informed the courts that they abandoned the unit and the other circumstances with these squatters but haven’t heard from judge on that. So we now have 8k retainer for lawyer, have Counterclaim for 30k lawsuit for FCDPA violations, we have eviction for nonpayment on hold due to damn moratorium and now a lawyer for all cases as well as just filed a second eviction for violations of the new squatters and damages to property. These eviction types claim to not be governed by the moratorium. We sure hope not.

Thanks so much,

A., Tampa, FL

A: What a nightmare! These squatters situations are the worst. I'm working on one right now where the cops said they would help, only to drag their feet until the squatters were there 30 days and then washed their hands of it.

It really comes down to the cops. If they wont help, you're screwed (pardon my language.)Even with the Courts open, It might take 60-90 days to actually get a squatter out. In this eviction moratorium, what? Wait for them to die of old age? I have no idea. We're all in some surreal holding pattern. You've hired the lawyers. You did your job. Its up to them, but lawyers can't do squat (pardon the pun) without a court!

Published 2020-07-30

Dear Mr. Reno:
My rental property is in Baltimore County, Maryland. The Governor signed a proclamation. Suspending evictions or rent increases, during the COVID 19 emergency. My tenants lease is about to expire (Oct 20) should I offer them a new lease with a small rent increase and a few changes in terms or should I offer to extend their existing lease and if so HOW?

Fred H., MD

A: So, assuming they are current, why wouldn't you extend it? If it's not broke, don't try to fix it. A small increase is perfectly acceptable.
(Unless prohibited by local law.)

Published 2020-07-17

Dear Mr. Reno:
I had a person living in my home who was on parole and didn't pay rent like she should have but she was arrested and went to prison.
Can I give all her stuff to her mom?
Thank you.

Terry S., NV

A:

Dear Mr. Reno:
My question is, in Illinois, can a private landlord have a clause in the lease stating “no overnight guests” allowed. Is this legal?
Thank you

Jane, IL

A: You can put it in- but try enforcing it. You can't. No police will assist you in removing the guest.
And if you try to evict on that- no judge will do it. That's way too strict, Jane.

Published 2020-07-14

Dear Mr. Reno:
If the tenant doesn’t make full payment during the coronavirus , is there anything I can do? Because I still have to property tax, insurance and mortgage in full. But they don’t pay me enough to cover my expense. What can I do?
Thanks

Michael

A: That's the question on everybody's lips. What can I do?

All I can say is, be ready. Serve your prerequisite default or other notices. Start your eviction paperwork. be 1st in line at the Courthouse when it opens.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I need to evict 2 tenants due to disturbing the peace and quiet of other tenants. They both have been warned several times over the past 4 months but refuse to stop their vindictive behavior. They both are intentionally dropping large items in their apartments to disturb the tenants below them, one of which has Parkinson’s. Due to the COVIG restrictions I need to know the soonest that these evictions can happen. This has now crossed over into becoming a trigger for the gentleman with Parkinson’s.
Thank you!

Tony Savage - Nevada

A: If they're midway in lease- that's a problem. These people need vacate notices, but that won't fly mid lease.

You may have to wait until their leases are up. Smoke the piece pipe, bury the hatchet- pick your metaphor.

Some leases have provisions where you can terminate for default or other misbehaviors- but these clauses are hard to enforce. You try evicting a rent paying tenant mid-lease. Good luck with that!

Published 2020-07-13

Dear Mr. Reno:
My tenant not paying me more then a year.
He is telling his TV and furniture damage due to Heavy rain water get in to the floor claiming 12000/-
Question; in eviction court can he claim this money and do the eviction court ask me to pay it if I want evict him ?

Mohammad, Queens, New York (city)

A: Well I don't care what this man tells his TV, but he may get a small offset to the one year's rent he owes if he's convincing but he'll still be evicted.

Published 2020-07-10

Dear Mr. Reno:
I rented my one bedroom to someone without any lease and without any background check in April. No security deposits either. I live in the same house with my family.

The lodger stopped paying rent after April, keeps us harassing by sending false complaints to the city government and openly challenges us that nobody can process eviction due to moratorium in Alameda County (CA). The lodger believes the moratorium will be extended for a long time so refused our offer of all past rents forgiveness and cash for keys.

My family is in distress due to lodger's bully and disrespectful behavior. Further research in our community revealed that the lodger did a couple of years of prison time in CA state prison for fraud and very volatile and bad person. Is there a way to evict the lodger during this pandemic? I am extremely worried if the emergency is extended after July 28th.
Please help.
Thanks!

Pembe, CA

A: If there's an eviction moratorium, that's problem.

#1 Then there's the lease- but if you're in a non-payment situation, you can break the lease. So start your paperwork (pay or quit) and be ready.

Published 2020-07-09

Dear Mr. Reno:
Thank you for your time. I live and have a rental in NJ. My tenant has been with me 11 years. Can I increase the security deposit at any point to reflect the current rent?
Thank you,

Kelly S., NJ

A: Yes, but what if they don't pay it. That's the rub. It's not a "non-payment" or "no-pay" situation b/c they never agreed. You may have to give a notice to vacate if they won't cough it up.

Published 2020-07-02

Dear Mr. Reno:
I gave tenant a 5 day notice to correct. and the attached letter. She states in email the she will move by July 15. I regret that I stated in email that I would give her 1/2 July rent back and her security if she left the place in good condition as she found it.

Is the email agreement I made with the tenant binding? Did I give away my rights?

I want damages for loss of tent - (very likely August) and for my time to re-rent. Are these things I am entitled to?

Shawnette S., Wisconsin

A: So you tell her that if she leaves by 7/15, you will give hr back 1/2 of the July rent and her security, but now you've changed your mind? That's a problem. You take her into court, she'll be waiving that e-mail around like a yellow flag. She'll say you said they could leave on 7/15 & she relied on your offer.

Even without the e-mail, you could never have recovered for your time to rerent, but loss of rent would be on the table.

But now, I'm afraid not.

Published 2020-06-29

Dear Mr. Reno:
I own 3 SFH in Auburn California. I gave a tenant a 60 day notice of termination for a month to month rental agreement on February 25 2020. The termination date was April 30 2020. Tenant will not leave until the eviction moratorium is lifted. She is not affected by Covid 19 and is still paying rent. Do I need to issue another termination notice?
Thank you,

Gayle L., CA

A: So you're caught in the horns of a dilemma b/c if you take May or June rent, you're reinstating the tenancy. I would take the rent and serve another notice (can't evict anyway.)

Published 2020-06-13

Dear Mr. Reno:
The space is in Georgetown SC

Real Estate LLC wants to lease commercial space. On application they provided the name of LLC and TIN. Question: Can I pull a credit report on a LLC TIN?

Question: How do I determine if the LLC is a suitable guarantor?

Question: Applicant do not want current landlord to be contacted. They want to have a lease notifying their current landlord. Per my colleague who knows the applicant well, advised that the applicant is a good businessman. Should I be concerned?

Question: At what point should I ask for an additional guarantor?

Question: Pros and Cons of having a three year lease?

James Mobley, SC

A: I'm ok with the three year lease because it's commercial. These people are running a business. They can't afford to up and leave willy nilly. Five year leases are common & I've even seen 20 year leases. (of course, you should be including annual rent increases in the lease.)

Now as to the other questions, you're out of my area. I don't help you pick who to let in- I'm the guy you call when you want to kick them out. If you're not using a real estate agent, you should be. That's in their wheelhouse, running credit and so forth. (The LPA has plenty of tenant screening articles you may want to check out!) Landlord Articles

Published 2020-06-10

Dear Mr. Reno:
Just read John's article "When a tenant leaves" https://www.thelpa.com/lpa/what/whattodo3.html
if this tenant leaves without any notice of any kind and you are fairly sure that they have gone, can I legally enter this unit to make sure if they are gone? if they are gone but some furniture or others items were left behind can I legally get rid of them.
No notice was given that this tenant was leaving or even gone. I texted tenant and got no reply until yesterday. tenant texted and said national grid needs to get into the cellar to turn off utilities. so now I am sure tenant is leaving but not sure if they are completely gone yet.

also in my rental agreement I have a clause that says:

TENANT HEREBY AGREES THAT THE FULL SECURITY DEPOSIT WILL BE FORFEITED IF TENANT VACATES THEIS APARTMENT WITHOUT A PROPER AND LEGAL 30-DAY WRITTEN NOTICE TO VACATE

Can I legally keep the security because no notice was given and can I still go after the rent owed. tenant owed me for April and May, no notice given can Is till go after June because of no notice given. thanks for any help you can give me.

Milton James, NY

A: If you are fairly sure they're out, you are good and you may retake possession.

Security is another matter. Under new subsection 1-a (b) of Section 7-108 of the General Obligations Law (got all that?) you can withhold security for "non-payment of rent", but this is different. You are penalizing the tenant for lack of notice, not collecting unpaid rent.

If your lease provides that the tenant is responsible for the next month's rent, you could make that case- that there is unpaid rent, but you're on thin ice unless your lease is very clear on that point.

Published 2020-06-05

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am renting a room in my home -private property, I've been challenged by someone that has not applied because it states no pets. Their inquiry stated, "what if its a service dog" ?

I have rent houses and am very aware of requirements with allowing service and emotional support dogs, but read private property is excluded from ADA mandatory allowing service and emotional support dogs.

Do I have to allow in my own home?

Cherie N., Texas

A: Now you've thrown me a tough hardball question that I'll get wrong & you'll be sued. You've got two issues here: The Federal anti-discrimination in housing laws (as well as the ADA) and State landlord tenant laws.

Now while its true that private property is excluded from the ADA, homeowners are not excluded from Federal Housing Laws. The Fair Housing Act requires "a reasonable accommodation" for a disabled dog needing person. So you're on thin ice there. And we haven't even got to Texas Law, so you should "tread lightly" here and talk to a Texas attorney.

Published 2020-05-29

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a bad, bad tenant - he only paid one months rent, and no security, I was being nice and said he could pay it in installments, so he paid January, and hasn’t paid since.
I have a month to month lease that he signed.
I know there are no evictions allowed in Pennsylvania right now, but can I make him leave because of the month to month lease?
Also he never put oil in the tank is using the oven for heat and is punching holes in my doors and walls, I saw it.
Is there any way a lawyer can write him a letter that he has to move?
I’m at my wits end!

Thanks so much,

JoAnn

A: Yes, your lawyer can send a letter. But that won't work. I'm sending letters all over. But without courts, lawyers can't do anything. We're like paper tigers.

(And the tenants know it.)

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a mother & adult daughter on a lease that expires 7/31/2020. The mother would like to move back to Utah, and be removed from the lease.

Q: Do I have to refund 50% of the deposits to her ?
or can I stipulate that the deposits transfer to the new lease with just her daughter ?

Q: If I must refund – what is best practices for getting the portion of the lease from the daughter before releasing the deposits to the mother ?

Thank you !

Lorraine S., AZ

A: This response was delayed due to Covid19 (not really, but now I blame everything on Covid19.)

DO NOT REFUND 50%. That's between them. If daughter will replace it, fine, but then just let daughter give it direct? Why get involved? You deserve a full deposit.

You don't have to return the deposit until the property is returned to you as agreed in your lease.

Published 2020-05-05

Dear Mr. Reno:
Question: the lease agreement says the rental increases by $80/month if a warning letter is received from HOA. I received letters and forwarded them to the tenant by IM. Is this enough to apply that rental increase or should I have sent them by a certified mail?
Thank you,

Chunho, AZ

A: Whoa whoa say what? Your lease says the rent does what when you get what?

Certified mail is preferable, but will that fly in court- I don't know. Sounds like a penalty clause frowned upon by most courts. Okay, go for it, but I don't know if that increase will be upheld.

Dear Mr. Reno:
Question 1: Can I win the termination of month-to-month lease now in this COVID-19 situation in Arizona?

Question 2: If the tenant denies receiving the 30-day lease termination notice sent by a certified mail, is the delivery attempt good enough to file to the court?

Thank you,

Chunho KIm, AZ

A: Many states have various restrictions for covid. In my state (NY) all of the evictions are stayed until June 20, 2020. So you can serve your 30 day notice- but the court & the Sheriff or Marshall have their hands tied until your Governor lifts the stay.

And if you're worried about service of the notice, hire a local process server (Usually only cost about a hundred bucks.)

Dear Mr. Reno:
Question: the tenant paid partial rental payments over many months by saying that he had paid for fixing A/C, plumbing, cutting trees, etc out of his pocket. There are two cases. Case 1: He did not notify me prior to his fixing, Case 2: he notified me by IM prior to his fixing but has not provided the receipt. Which of these cases should I accept as a legally valid claim for the partial rental payments or none?

Thank you,

Chunho KIm, AZ

A: Really both things should be a prerequisite to a rent credit, the prior notice & the receipt. Problem is, I've seen some courts just give what we lawyers call "lip service" to the prior notice requirement. If the tenant has a receipt, most judges will give them the rent credit.

So I guess the answer to your question is demand both, but if they have proof of the repair, make some adjustment, even w/o the prior notice.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a tenant occupied home. Class A and great tenant. We have confirmed that there is a small area of concern in the kitchen "toxic mold" by a professional mold tester. Upon findings from tester, he wants to further investigate. We are scheduled for Monday, and I asked the tenant to have somewhere to stay due to the stirring up of the mold spores when we access inside the wall and foundation under cabinets. Should I be doing anything more, and will this keep me out of trouble if she sues me. It was reported to me a month ago, and we cleaned and thought we mitigated the situation (not professionally) and I asked her to keep an eye on it, and let me know if the problem still persists (smell). Here we are now.

Betty C., Texas City, TX

A: Betty, you seem to be doing all you can- what else did you have in mind? If you're asking her to vacate, you may have a hotel bill in your future. I guess you could do a mold test after you're done, but they are a few hundred dollars. Are you sure your remedial efforts are effective?

Published 2020-04-17

Dear Mr. Reno:
I understand that right now we are not allowed to evict and should be willing to work with our tenants, but where is our protection? I literally watched and called the police because a tenant was ripping off under pinning from the trailer he is living in. The police said there was nothing They could do and were not making misdemeanor arrests. They have knocked holes in the walls and everything, but I CANNOT EVICT THEM. The tenants have let me know that they know that I can't evict them and have not paid any rent. Please, please tell me what i can do.

Bobbie

A: What can you do? Send notices, demand letters, notices of lease violations, and then just wait. Wait until the courts open and the eviction moratorium is over.

They're laughing now- you will get the last laugh.

Published 2020-04-13

Dear Mr. Reno:
Could you please tell me as a New Jersey landlord of a private home, if I have the right to increase my tenants rent after their one year lease is up in June, during the Coronavirus restrictions? If so, what percentage is fair for a month to month lease and for a one year lease. Thank you,

Jennifer K., NJ

A: I am unaware of any moratorium on rent increases, unless NJ did something special, I haven't heard of it. A five percent increase is usually considered okay.

Dear Mr. Reno:
How long (legally) can a tenant have a guest/friend stay over without the landlord's permission. I cannot seem to find any ref on this. Thanks.

Rocky, CA

A: Check your lease; any proscription there? If your lease doesn't limit guests, then their guests can hang out indefinitely.

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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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