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Eviction Attorney

Q&A with John Reno, Eviction Attorney

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Recent Court Victory

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


Published 2017-01-09

Dear Mr. Reno:
I recently (12.22.17) won an eviction case against my tenant. In East Stroudsburg PA. I am having a hard time with my attorney he doesn't return calls or emails and frankly I don't think he is a good attorney.

The tenant is paranoid and personally I think mentally disturbed. He has not paid Decembers rent, nor January's rent. I am trying to get the judge to send the sheriff out to present an order of possession however because I live and work inn Manhattan (the house is in PA) I have to do all of these forms via mail and I have been told that the back and forth it will be weeks before the judge sends the sheriff or constable out because of all the forms he needs completely filled out before he can request the possession letter be given to the tenant. In one month after the tenant moved in he claims there was acts of vandalism ( a camera, a cigarette case and my well cover is missing, he alluded that I had something to do with it since there was no force entry) The fire was also according to him mischievous act of vandalism (I also believe he started the fire), there is quite a bit of damage to a support beam and the black top driveway, My attorney told me not to fix anything until he has moved out. now the tenant is saying he he wants it cleaned up because he can;t walk or drive in that area (the area is not walk-able drive able before the fire, it is in an area that is not a main area for access or even necessary to go near for entrance or exit to the house.

Although he has been told to reach out to my attorney for all correspondence he wrote me the email today asking for repairs to be done, which I forwarded to the attorney and have not heard back yet from him. Meanwhile the items he is complaining about just like the other dozens of items he complained of in court were all in working condition when he took possession of the house. After he took possession everything fell apart according to him. I truly believe he is purposely damaging and breaking these things to aggravate me and to get me to spend money (I have 2 months security, already spent on rent due, damages legal fees etc)

The Judge said that the items that I took fixed at the tenants request after he moved in - I shouldn't have fixed - so they were a gift to him. I do not think I should repair to any of his complaints because every-week something is damaged, and no matter how many times I send some one to fix something he breaks something else and asks me to send someone to fix again either something new or something else. Am I obligated to repair these items even though he most likely broke them and caused the issues or do I ignore hm like my attorney has told me too from he beginning?
Stressed, agitated and irritated landlord

Judy, PA

A: I agree with your atty. Let this guy pound salt. Also, you said you won the eviction. So your problems will soon be over.

Dear Mr. Reno:
Can a landlord deny specific breeds (aggressive, like pit bulls) and require weight limits such as no more than 35 pounds. Landlord cannot deny the Emotional Support animal under Fair Housing, but can they set the above specific limits?

Bruce H., Reston, VA

A: That's a problem. The fair Housing act doesn't provide weight limits. Some of those seeing eye dogs are quite hefty. Emotional support dogs may be too. ("Beware of dog" laws.)

Dear Mr. Reno:
my question is since my tenant is in jail he has a guest that staying in the home or apartment. The guest wants to have guests. Legally how do I handle that?

Gene in the state of California

A: You evict the jailbird tenant and all the John Does and Jane Does he let in. Include the whole Cabal. That's the ticket.

Dear Mr. Reno:
My mother is in a nursing home and owns a Mobil home in New York State. Her caregiver/boyfriend lives there now. We would like him to move out and either sell the property or allow my sister to live there. The nursing home is not interested in the home because it is 30 years old and they do not believe it would be worth much. My sisters are power of attorney and I have a brother that is executor of her estate. Can we evict him? Mom is the sole owner of the property. Thank you....

Stacey S., NY

A: Well the executor does not come into it as long as she's alive. So that leaves you with the power of attorney. That's usually sufficient. You have to start with a 30 day notice.

Does the Power of Attorney include "litigation". Check that out. You'll need that for the eviction.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am the owner of 2 coop apartments in Brooklyn, NY . Both apartments are in the same building. I live in one of them, the second apartment I bought 15 years ago for my parents. After they passed away 10 years ago, I let my brother to live in it without a lease - he had a divorce and had no place to live. Now I need to sell that my second apartment because I lost my job and can't work anymore due to health issues - I am 61, but my brother who is 67 does not want to move out, saying he do not have place to live.
What can I do to have him move out?

Ellen, NYC

A: You're in NYC. That a big problem. I would give him a Notice to Vacate by 1/31/16. Then you're off to evict (housing) court. Good luck with that. You may have them out by 4th of July.

Published 2017-01-05

Dear Mr. Reno:
Let me try to explain......
Mother, who is 90 years old and has the start of dementia, owns home. Daughter, who also lives in home has Power of Attorney over mothers affairs. Mothers son and daughter-in-law have been living in home for about 5 years. Son went to prison and will be gone for 3 years. Daughter-in-law has not paid any rent, bad-mouthing daughter to mother. Daughter wants her out of the house. There is no lease agreement or anything like that. How does she go about getting daughter-in-law out of home?

Laurie, CA

A: Yes, that is big trouble. You can't do it for her. You have no authority. Mom has to give daughter-in-law 60 day notice. If she can't do it b/c of dementia, that's a big problem.

Maybe try elder protection service for abused elders? Mom may need a conservator appointed. You'll need a social worker and/or an attorney with mental hygiene/health experience.

Published 2016-12-28

Dear Mr. Reno:
My father's girlfriend decides that she don't want to live at my home anymore. Instead of moving out right away she decides to just take one or two items occasionally out of the house and keeps coming back to verbally abuse everyone. She has already have her important mail changed to her son's house, but she keeps saying she will leave but have not and is verbally abusive everyday. when she starts verbal abuse it goes on for 2 to 3 hours of constant complaining and arguing.

What are my rights to keep her out. Right now she sleeps over at her son's house for a couple days and she leaves for the night whenever she is mad. I want to schedule with her one or two days to grab her belongings then I want to be sure she can not enter my home again. What are my rights as the owner. We do not have a formal rent agreement to family and my father pays for her share of our their rent and utilities. She has been living with me for about 10 years.

Pam, Oregon State

A: Well, the last sentence of your question is the problem. She established this as a residence. She has rights.

But that doesn't mean you have no rights. You have the right to serve her a 30 day notice (or 60- depends on your state). You really need a local attorney that knows what he's doing. This can get tricky.

TIP: How to Select a Good Eviction Attorney

Published 2016-12-21

Dear Mr. Reno:
My wife lost her house, the new owners allowed her to move on the first floor of the house we previously owned. She signed a lease agreement with the new owners and I'm not on the lease. The new owners has given me 5 days to leave, what can I do?

Brian, New Jersey

A: Stay, for now. She's got a lease. You're her guest. They can't evict you.

Now when her lease expires, then, there may be a problem. They can not evict you during her lease, but nothing requires them to renew her lease once it expires.

Dear Mr. Reno:
Hello, I will try and make this short, I am moving back into my house that I had rented. The tenant moved out but left behind 2 people that he rented 1 of the bedrooms to. They haven't paid rent and have no intention to pay rent. Hence the eviction process is started. Now my question is can I take back the bedroom for myself without kicking them out. I don't care if they sleep in the bathroom. I want my bedroom.

Sherry, Shirley NY

A: How exactly would that work, Sherry? I'm not getting it. You ask them to move out of the bedroom and they say "no" and then what? You're going to have to let the Court process run its course. if I were you, I wouldn't have moved back in at this juncture. I know it's your house, still, sounds like a bad situation you've walked into.

Published 2016-12-14

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a tenant that is on a month to month now and has stated they are leaving (original annual lease, expired and carried over month to month). We agree on a date of departure, I agree to let him use one month security of the two I have to cover his last month of rent in order to help him with security on the next place he rents (I had property inspected by a relative and most things are in order, so would not need two months security to cover). I bought a plane ticket to fly up and check him out of the house and take possession back. I am informed a few days before the trip that he needs to extend as the place he was moving to fell through. I visit the house and we agree on a new date under a good faith agreement that he pays the rent for the previous month immediately, which would leave me with one month security. He has not made good on even making a partial payment, so I will begin the eviction process to ensure this does not drag on for months. Am I entitled to my travel expenses (air, rental car..anything) assuming I win in court and he is evicted since I am having to make multiple trips now?

Thank you

Rob from New York

A: Travel expenses?

Not happening Rob. Never seen it. never heard of it. Nothing in any lease I've seen. Maybe attorneys fees, never travel. Sorry.

Dear Mr. Reno:
Good morning. If you are in escrow court in Maryland and your landlord is represented by an LLC. Does the LLC have to have a lawyer in court?


A: It varies. I've seen it required and I've seen it not required. Depends on the Court and the Judge and the case. Could go either way.

Published 2016-12-09

Dear Mr. Reno:
My tenant in Jersey city, renting 1st floor unit (including basement as storage only) of a 2-story house, does not keep things in order & clean in the house, and just complain to the housing dept, which ALWAYS just turn around can call us and demand us to "fix problems for the tenant",

- Scatter garbage by sidewalk and we gets violation ticket
- Misuse toilet and refuse to fix clogging, just call housing dept and we ended up paying $300 to fix it
- Call housing dept complaining about rats in basement, for the 2nd time! We actually paid for a rodent treatment late last year, but reality is they never keep basement clean.

They have been paying rent, though sometimes late. So, as long as they pay rent, they can just abuse and take advantage of the system? Is there anyway we can terminate lease and kick them out? Or, at least, is there anyway we can file complaint to any department to hold them accountable?
(how can those people at housing dept just blindly take whatever tenant says as truth?!)

Thank you

Richard, from Edison NJ

A: Pretty much, yes, as long as they pay the rent, you're stuck with them. Some leases have provisions to terminate upon other "defaults", but it never works.

You didn't mention how long the lease goes. I hope it's not a long one. When the lease is up you'll give them their Notice to Vacate.

Published 2016-12-08

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a property in Sacramento Ca.
I gave my tenant a signed (she say’s)lease / Purchase agreement in Sept 2016.

I did not receive a signed copy back, I sent a letter on Nov 7th saying the house was no longer for sale. The tenant Is trying to force me to honor the September offer? Can I say no and get them out ?
Thank You

Gary Lee, Hawaii

A: This is a mess. What did you sign? Without knowing, it's kind of hard to advise you.

My suggestion: Start the eviction. Then you'll get all the info, probably reach a settlement to terminate for next Spring. It might be a tortuous route, but you have to start somewhere.

Published 2016-12-07

Dear Mr. Reno:
A lease expired. Tenant remained with landlord's permission. Landlord tries to evict for broken terms of original lease. Judge says there is no lease and neither party can hold the other to the terms of the original lease.
Is this normal?

Mary, Virginia

A: No. That is incorrect. The terms of the lease continue. For example, if the lease says the tenant has use of the washer/dryer, that doesn't mean when the lease expires the tenants wash gets tossed in the street! Everything stays the same- just month to month. I disagree with the Judge.

Published 2016-12-05

Dear Mr. Reno:
Hi,my daughters lease is up and she does not want to renew it.She can not find her lease,she asked the landlord for a copy of of the originally lease and he will not give it to her. The house has three units and she rented one of them,the other two tenants had to pay first and last months rent and a deposit and she is sure she had to do the same .The landlord made her pay rent for the last month again when she already paid it three years ago when she signed the lease.So what can she do to get a copy of the lease that she signed .Thanks


A: So when she leaves, she thinks she has one month coming to her (plus security) b/c she paid for the last month twice?
Okay, so at that time she notifies the landlord that she wants the dough or she'll go to small claims.
So they can show you now... or show you later.

Dear Mr. Reno:
My mom passed away with no will. I am executor to her estate. Her boyfriend was living in her home and has changed the locks not allowing me access to take inventory of her assets an executor is supposed to. I have served a 30 day notice however how can I get immediate re-entry to the home and evict him as quickly as possible?
Thank you


A: "Immediate re-entry"? What's that?

You served the 30 day. That means, wait 30 days, right? Then you're off to Court. You wont have access for the inventory until after he's evicted. No short cuts. Sorry.

Dear Mr. Reno:
My daughter moved from apartment and landlord agreed to allow me to stay and pay rent, she asked my daughter to write a letter giving rights to the apartment up and sign it. She did and we gave it to landlord. Still the eviction was in her name. Can we get the eviction out of her name and into mine?

Jillian W., from California

A: Probably not. She's on the eviction because she's on the lease. You would need to have an assignment signed by Landlord which you don't have so daughter is still liable.

Dear Mr. Reno:
My grandma wants to get her son to leave her house, he was suppose to be out Monday Nov 28 2016, is there anything we can do to get him out by today Dec 1st? he doesn't pay rent and she gave him proper notice, she also gave him a written notice back in August 2016 hut did fail to enforce it. we live in Minnesota and wondering if there is anything we can do they don't have a landlord tenant relationship, he was only suppose to stay here til he got back on his feet, not move here permanently let me know what we can do thanks.

Joe A., Minnesota

A: Your grandma is Court bound. If she wants him out- she has to file.

Hire a local. You need to check out the notice from August. Was it legally sufficient? Can't say. Someone needs to check it out.

Published 2016-11-15

Dear Mr. Reno:
We have a new tenant that is asking about putting a fire pit in the backyard. I'm not sure if our insurance permits this. I know that gas grills are allowed but have to be a certain distance from the building. Should I allow them to put one in the backyard?

Suzanne B., NC

A: Step one: Call the Town Building Department. Legal? Needs a permit? Restrictions? What's the deal?

Published 2016-11-09

Dear Mr. Reno:
We are in the process of renting one of our apartments to two people [not married]. Do you do one lease with both equally responsible or two leases with each individually responsible? It is a 3Bdr 2Bath apartment and they may want to add an additional roommate at a later date. This is my work email account not the one we are registered under.

Suzanne B., North Carolina

A: So they're living in sin! And you think that's okay?
Just kidding. One lease. Every tenant is responsible for the full rent in a lease. Good luck.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am a tenant currently living in Connecticut and my landlord who is my sister is the executrix because my mom passed away. I still reside in my moms house since I was her caregiver. The house is suppose to close this Monday but me and my daughter still live here. Is there anything we can do to delay the closing or them going back to court n evicting us quickly, would i be able to ask for a stay of execution even if my sister still owns it and the other party didn't sign yet, thank you very much

Martha G., CT

A: If you're still there, they can't put you out without court. But you need to talk to the buyers' attorney.

Make a deal. When can you be out? How about 12/1? 12/31? Will you pay the buyer's rent until then?

Time to start talking.

Published 2016-11-04

Dear Mr. Reno:
We have a home in Arkansas , that we leased out starting August 1, 2216. The tenants was to pay 1000.00 on september 1st. That would cover 700.00 rent and 300.00 would be the remainder of the deposit. They only payed 700.00 on September 3rd. As of today November 2, they have not payed October rent, remainder of deposit, or November rent. How many days do I have to give them in an eviction notice?

Kirk S., Texas

A: Hoy. (What are you waiting for?)

Published 2016-11-02

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am have my tenant a 30 day eviction for violation of lease and she has a visitor harassing me and threatening me and the visitor has a key and also has public assistance letters being sent here and telling public assistance she lives here. I have a lease and evicting my tenant for lease violations. I live downstairs from the tenant what can I do?

Christina Ojeda, Buffalo, NY

A: Well as far as the harassing goes, that's a police matter, so if they don't help you, I can't either. But as far as the eviction, if you do it right, that will get her out along with all visitors and clingers on. So hopefully, your troubles will be over then. Good luck.

Published 2016-10-26

Dear Mr. Reno:
My stepfather bought me a home after my mother passed(money was 1/2 moms as it was joint acct) I agreed to let him live here as he seemed lonely and lost. From day one he has been verbally abusive throwing me out constantly. He claims he bought house in my name by accident. I am literally living in a bdrm in fear. I want to evict but am afraid if it doesn't stand in court he will physically harm me. Its a mobile and all paperwork is in my name only with him listed as only the payer not owner. Do I stand a chance of evicting him before he harms me?

Bridgette B.

A: A mess! The best way of doing this is for you to clear out (move) and then serve him a Thirty Day Notice to Vacate in that order. If you try to evict him while you live there, well, you think he's abusive now? He will not be a happy camper. And evicting a person from a space you also occupy presents various logistic problems.

Sorry Bridgette. You need to start packing.

Published 2016-10-24

Dear Mr. Reno:
Wrongful evictionfrom Senior Citizen Home
I am contacting you on behalf of my father. He believes that he is being illegally evicted from his senior citizen home. He's been living there for 8 years and has never been late on his rent and has been extremely helpful to the building staff and the buildings residents. He's supposed to be out by the 31st of this month but didn't find out until 3 weeks ago. Are you the right person to contact regarding this issue?

A: He needs to get down to the eviction courthouse ASAP. Tell them he needs an Order to Show Cause to stop it on grounds he got no notice.

Get moving.

Dear Mr. Reno:
How do I evict someone living on property that they own 25% of and you own 50% of due to the death of a family member.

Samuel P.

A: The Executor (or Administrator) appointed by the court, Evicts everyone, sells the property and divides the money. (At least, that's what's supposed to happen.)

Published 2016-10-21

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am in the process of evicting a tenant that looks like it will work in my favor. However the tenant still owes me roughly $1500 which will not be completely covered by the deposit. Some attorneys in NC have told me that wage garnishment is not an option in NC unless I am a government entity. One even told me that I could only put a levy on their property but the tenant can have that waived. Am I just at a lost?
The most recent videos posted by the Landlord Protection Agency made it seemed that I may have a chance to obtain a monetary judgment but the attorneys I've spoken with in NC all seem to separately agree that I will not be able to get my money back and just to focus on evicting the tenant and finding a new one fast. I want my current tenant that owes me to pay, but I need help to understand how to do this successfully in my state. Your response will be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Isaac Crumpton of North Carolina

A: I garnish their pay. Why can't you?
Are salaries exempt in NC? I'd be surprised. Get your judgment. Then reach out to a collection agency.

Related Info:

Credit Bureau Posting with Landlord Collection Agency (Free Bonus for LPA Members)
Bad debt / collection agency posting impacts tenant's credit record and creates incentive for the debt to be paid.
Report Tenants to Credit Bureau

Report Tenants to Deadbeat Database

Dear Mr. Reno:
After my husband died I turned over a small 20 unit apartment building in North Carolina we owned to a rental management company. I have now gotten a letter saying that I as the owner and the management company have violated the Fair Housing Act and discriminated by refusing to renew leases and evicting people. The management company today told me that the evictions were for tenants that had cooking smells coming from their apartments and those who let their children play in the parking lot.

At 73 I am not well enough to get involved in this and never had anything to do with the building even when my husband was alive and managing it himself.

Do I need to consult an attorney or should I just wait and see what happens on this? I don’t want to get sued for something I had nothing to do with.

Carol R., NC

A: You got a letter? From who? Do you mean you got a summons? If so, you need an atty ASAP. If just a letter, someone should answer it.

Published 2016-10-20

Dear Mr. Reno:
I sincerely apologize for approaching you with a tenant question, but I am sure you will have the answer due to your experience with landlords. The State of residence is Florida (Bay Co.; Panama City Beach) & there was no written lease (only confirmed thru texts and online rental site. I pay my rent monthly & are paid up thru month of October 2016.

My question in essence is: Would my husband & 11 yr old grandson, whom we have adopted, be considered "unauthorized guests"? My husband & I had recently went thru a separation after 40+ yrs of marriage in TN. I moved alone to Panama City on Sept. 10th and rented a two-bdrm apt from an individual woman. Our house in TN was sold shortly after I arrived in PCB, and my landlady drove me to the airport so I could fly back for closing of the our home. I had mentioned to her on several occasions and, again, on the way to airport that my husband & grandson would be driving me back home to PCB on Oct. 31st when we completed the closing, AND I hoped I could talk my family into moving back with me.

Yesterday, 10/16/16, my landlady text me & said she had already moved another retired husband & wife into my apt and "you need to come pick up your car. I put all your belongings in car. I wish you the best. I do not want kids".

Once again, I would like to know if she can evict me due to bringing my child to live with me (along with my husband)? Do you think I have a chance at any recourse?

Thank you again for any advice.

Judy Gail Grisham

A: Say what? The landlord did what? She can't just put you out! You paid rent thru October. No way. You need to call either an attorney or a cop ASAP. I know its a month to month, but she still has to give you the proper notice.

Published 2016-10-14

Dear Mr. Reno:
Thank you for considering these questions. I apologize that to set the scene I had to make it such a long message.
The questions:

1.) What needs to be in a Risk Release form for residents to return to an active construction area? Sample form?
2.) Need to know if we are obligated in any way to residents whom, we believe, have no justification for breaking their lease just because they feel uncomfortable with construction going on nearby and barely affecting them directly.

A Tenant couple lives in home my LLC rents to them across the driveway from a 4-unit rental apartment building the same LLC owns. We temporarily relocated and reimbursed the 3 adults people (one unit is vacant) in the apartment building because we needed to replace deteriorating 2-story deck – the only entry to their units. While that decking was removed and being replaced, we waterproofed the basement wall below, and are replacing the 30 year-old roof on the building since the new deck/porch roof will change the roof line. Also, we graded the backyards behind both the house and apt building. We still need to pour concrete in the enlarged drainage ditch behind. Also, the exterior concrete steps to the basement of the house were removed 3 weeks ago as the retaining walls were slowly collapsing. These steps are the only access to the unfinished basement with the furnace, oil tank, electric panel, water heater, computer router, etc. There have been lots of changes in the details of the design of these replacement steps and nothing can move forward until the inch to inches here and there are finalized and the plans are approved by the building inspector. Since the designer thought these steps would be “easy” he did not put sufficient thought into them and did not get his plans to me until after the old steps had been removed. He made serious mistakes in the plans which needed to addressed before the footers could be formed. Sometime next week we anticipate the plans will be to the building inspector for his approval, we hope. Then, weather-permitting, the concrete work can begin and completed in short order. Basically the main reasons for these projects to be done is they need to be. I have kept the residents informed, perhaps, too informed of the schedules and scheduling changes and the whys. The residents who had to be relocated are not complaining, just wanting to get back into their homes. Originally the relocation was only supposed to be three weeks. Next Monday will begin the fourth week. Those who just live next door, are the ones wanting to break their lease.

All totaled my husband and I only own 9 rental properties. Only 5 of which are in this LLC.

Project started around 4 weeks ago after a week or so of delays when we thought deliveries of lumber were to have started and I asked residents to park out of the way of anticipated trucks. The project was to have been completed with 3 weeks of relocation. If we can get a good risk release arrangement, then, they, likely, could move back in after being out for 4-4.5 weeks, but there will still be much work to be done.

1.) We need a Risk Release form for our residents of the apartments to sign releasing us and the contractors from liability so that we can allow them back into their units once the contractors have made the new steps safe using temporary plywood and temporary railings. The extensive amount of hardwood deck boards and railings will take much time to complete and there will need to be access into the attics through units to deal with venting issues through the roof and adding insulation. However, construction will continue and we will need to limit their free access to their units. They need to only enter and leave a couple of times each day – there are only 3 adults total, and we would prefer not to have them have visitors for the 3-4 more weeks that there will be construction dangers around.

2.) Also, the residents of the house are asking to move out leaving us with no rental stream from that house because they do not feel safe and their enjoyment of the property has been ruined by this extended construction project. They do not like having “trash” around, a port-a-potty in front of the apartment building, safety hazards, workman around, people walking around, etc. This is likely the cleanest construction site I have seen and I have seen many. The piles of lumber are neat. There is very little encroachment in areas that the residents of the house would normally use. The workmen are very quiet. . . no radios, no cursing, . . . but lots of hammering and sawing, which does not start until 8AM and ends by around 4PM. Before that there were around 3-4 days of heavy equipment maneuvering for demolition and hauling of the old deck components, grading, delivery of gravel, etc. The main carpenter arrives around 7:30 and leaves by 4PM. The site has barricades around where the basement steps were removed. The residents of the house, I believe, should not be allowed to break their lease because they do not like looking at piles of decking lumber covered with tarps on the parking area related to the apartments or because there are workers’ vehicles parked in spaces other than the ones reserved for the residents right outside their front door. Their usual “reserved” space by the back path, which they usually used, is where the structural lumber has been piled and is where the men have their saw set up. The steps they just completed are exactly where the original steps used to land within an inch of the asphalt, one and a half parking space width away from where the residents of the house usually park their car. The “trash” to which the residences of the house refer, after the initial demolishing of the cinderblock and wood deck, was just one black trash bag with construction debris, some scraps of treated wood and framing lumber, some backing paper from waterproofing membrane, etc. No food was in it. It all would have fit in the back of my Subaru wagon. The contractors are amongst the top handful of contractors in this region with an excellent reputation and years of work experience working on high-end homes. I am not sure why they are so worried about safety, except that now there is no on living in the apartments and there are workers around. Behind is about a mile of woods and fields as well as more open and wooded rural beauty as far as one can see behind to the sides as well. The nearest neighbor is a football field away in each direction to the sides and pretty far past a dense row of pines across the street. These residents lived in densely packed suburban to multi-family area prior to moving to rural America. When they arrived the premises only come on when motion sensors are tripped spooked them. They may not yet be adjusted to the beauty of the night sky which we struggled to make sure our residents could enjoy to the fullest if they stood still. Occasionally someone comes by to check the premises. Last Friday evening, because it was raining hard during the day, the supervisor came to set up a pump and drain the hole for the basement steps before it flooded the basement. This may have been what really frightened them, but, of course the lights came on and they could see him.

Margaret R., LPA Member, Virginia

A: I've never heard of a "Risk Release Form". Not familiar with that term. There's a standard "General Release" that's a Blumberg form lawyers use. Why don't you start with that, and add any specific "risks" you want to be released from?

That's all I got Maggie. Sorry.

Dear Mr. Reno:
We won our small claims case against a former tenant.
Now this former tenant has filed Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.
To have the debt owed to us excluded from the bankruptcy filing, what form do we need to submit to the court?
Thank you very much for your assistance.

Tracy Adams, Gilbert, Arizona

A: Why would your debt be excluded? The only debts non-dischargable are taxes, child support and student loans. What up Tracy? (Maybe talk to a bankruptcy guy?)

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a condo that was for sale for 6 months. I verbally hired a third party to find a tenant, create a lease and signed as my agent. Then a full price offer came in to buy my unit. What happens if I don't let the tenant move in??

Jeff Halfon, Ohio

A: If there's a lease, there's a problem. If that tenant moved in, muchos problema, ie.. good luck evicting him. If you put the kabash on the deal prior to occupancy- probably okay. Maybe a suit by the tenant? Doubtful. Just a lot of cursing and threatening- that's about it.

Dear Mr. Reno:
How do I word an eviction notice to my 25 yr old son? He's a good kid, in grad school and works however, he does not and refuses to pay rent and refuses to do his part around the home. I look forward to your reply.

Elise Gurmankin, Caldwell NJ

A: This problem is becoming like an epidemic. He needs a standard 30 or 60 day notice to vacate. Form should be somewhere on this website. (Maybe this will send him a message to "shape up or ship out."

Eviction Notice - Termination of Tenancy

Published 2016-10-07

Dear Mr. Reno:
A resident moved out at end of lease term due to non-renewal from management. He Left his girlfriend here. She refuses to leave apt and is now taking in all kinds of people and smoking crake. When the police were called she refuses to open door.

According to police, she has a cable bill in her name with this address. Do I just evict her?

Kim/ Laurel Apts/San Antonio Texas

A: You evict him! You thought he left, but you were wrong. He's still "in possession" as long as his guest is there. You evict the tenant as holdover and Jane Doe, subtenant.

Published 2016-10-06

Dear Mr. Reno:
Previous tenant's dog urinated on all carpets in townhome. I had them cleaned and treated until there was no more urine odor. New tenant claimed odor was back (it was), so treated with enzyme again and odor was gone. Tenant is threatening to sue stating urine odor is back again, and if I do not replace carpets and padding they will sue... stating unhealthy ammonia off-gassing. I did not keep previous tenants deposit. Am I responsible for replacing carpets, since urine odor is back? I don't have the money. What do I do?

Lonny Burman, FL

A: Oh my God! What's up with this? Why can't you correct this problem?

You need to contact this restoration people that do clean ups after fires and deal with smoke damage. They'll know what to do.

Otherwise, you'll get no rent and be in L/T court. Judge will want to know why place stinks.

(I do have one question: How will tenant prove it smells? Maybe with a "nose-witness?)

Dear Mr. Reno:
I rented a house to a friend of the family. She not only broke the lease by moving out early but refused to pay the last month. The bigger issue is we had a verbal agreement that we could store some furniture at the house. She sold the furniture for way under its value and never paid us a dime. What would be the best action to take against her to recover lost rent and the value of the furniture? I am not worried about upsetting family members.

Harry Hafele from Texas

A: No good deed...

Well she's gone (thank God) so take local landlord/tenant court has no jurisdiction any more. This is now either a small claims court case for lost rent.

As for the furniture, that's gonna lost cause. You can add it to your small claims case, but try proving the values. Big problema.

Published 2016-10-04

Dear Mr. Reno:
I rent a first floor 2-bedroom apartment in a triple decker for $900 a month (without utilities) in a highly desirable section of Boston, MA.. The tenants on the top floor pay $1250..
Two of my family members live on the second floor and pay $800 a month. In the past year or so, the first floor tenant has started asking for many things. There are many things that I initiate without being asked, so that the apartments are maintained well and up to city code. This week, for example, I had an electrician replace all the hard-wired smoke alarms and carbon monoxide readings — everything is up to code and I was told that the tenant was asking the electrician for extra ones (the electrician asked me why I had so many, because they already exceeded city requirements).. After the electrician completed all the work and had left, I received an email from the tenant that he forgot to mention that his light in the kitchen and living room were not working. He also has access to free laundry and he uses the washer excessively and the property is in an area where the water bill is quite high — about $135 a month for the house.
The tenant keeps the apartment clean and always pays the rent. My question is, "Can I raise the rent on one apartment?"
I do not want him to perceive the rent hike as retaliation or as if I’m singling him out. I don’t want to raise the rent on the other tenants, who keep costs down. Please advise.

Judy Bayog, MA

A: Go for it. Raise it. You might lose'em. You obviously don't want'em!

Published 2016-09-28

Dear Mr. Reno:
Tenant left for a few days came back my property flooded with fresh water. Cause, “ toilet was flushed and valve stuck”. When it first happened tenant mentioned smell, and mold right off the bat. (The tenant wasn’t fully moved in yet, and nothing of theirs was ruined).

( The smell was the wet carpet ) I called carpet extractor, to vacuum out all water, then I had all carpet taken out, and plumber in. ( The smell was the wet carpet). New Carpet coming to be installed today 9/27/2016. ( This is an immaculate home )

I am leery of these tenants. They could say they are now getting headaches.
People are sue happy now days.
What should I do now?
Thank You So Much

M. Howell, Ohio

A: These mold cases are becoming an occupational hazard for landlords. I'm involved in one now. It's a mess.

It sounds like you're on top of it. Good for you! Keep up the good work and fear not.

Dear Mr. Reno:
Currently renting a double wide modular to a young couple, it has central air which has been maintained by a licensed heating and air guy, who says the air is working properly and is adequate size for the home. The couple is complaining it is not cool enough for them and want us to install window units. My question is do I have to provide them with air conditioning at all? Thank you for your time.

Karen V. in Indiana

A: If its in the lease, you're obligated. Otherwise.. NOT

Published 2016-09-21

Dear Mr. Reno:
I own my home in New York State. My ex girlfriend was living there and never paying rent, utilities. I have been paying for everything. She has now purposely destroyed my house and has stolen everything out of my house. She has started a lawsuit wanting half of the proceeds of the selling of my house. I want her out of my house, what do I do? I need your help. Thank You

Staci F., NY

A: Where do you find these people?
Well obviously you need to evict this person. You can start with a 30 day notice to vacate.
You need to hire a local atty. This will get tricky.

Published 2016-09-20

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a tenant that is 3 months late on his rent. He has broken out 4 windows Kick in two doors broken door jambs and the carpet is damaged beyond Repair. This is a 3 bedroom two full baths, large laundry room with washer/ Dryer. Furnished kitchen. Stove, Frig, Dishwasher etc. ceiling fans in every room.
He has been letting in lots of people in all hours of the night. Drug users.
I served him a 3 day notice to vacate the property a month ago. He said he found another place to move, but just two weeks ago he pulled a gun on someone and shot the gun.
He did not hit anyone. He did get locked up. Bond is $20,000.00. No one is coming To help him get out. He does a lot of drugs. Mean time he is in jail and a lot of people have been coming into his apartment removing furniture. Washer there cloths, sleeping there.

These people say that the renter said to move hiss furniture and could stay there.
Water is turned off . Crap in the toilets. Place stinks. I have an abandonment Clause In the contract. What are my rights to remove all the junk that is left in the apartment.
To change locks on the exterior doors. Do I have to go through the courts to get my place back. The electric is in someones name not his. So the electric co. will not let me turn it off.
When the bill is two months behind, I will have to pay the electrical in order to be able to have a new renter to come in. What are my options

R. Wayne, Eastpoint, FL

A: The general rule is, when someone is arrested, that is not a signal to the landlord to change the locks. In other words, if he were paying the rent, he could stay in prison & you couldn't evict him.

But he's not paying the rent. So you can evict for non-payment, not for abandonment. He has not abandoned- he's in jail. His stuff is still there. You must evict. But you could have done that 2 months ago. You shouldn't have waited. Better late than never.

Evict tenant and John Doe and Jane Doe. If you go in there without an eviction, you're opening yourself up to law suits from him or any of his low life friends that claim you trashed their stuff.

Published 2016-09-19

Dear Mr. Reno:
After the (year) contract with our Tenants ended on February 2016, my wife and I agreed to give them a 6 months extension because they were buying a house. They signed a Contract Extension Agreement. One of the points in the Agreement they signed stated that:

• If the Tenant requests the Landlord for further changes after June 14th, 2016, the Landlord would contemplate such changes but in case of acceptance, the Tenant will lose their deposit.

As per the agreement, they were supposed to leave the premises on or before August 14th, 2016. On August 8th, 2016, a few days before the ending of the agreement, I sent them a message asking for the date they were planning to leave. They informed me that they need to stay more time. They even said that if I do not give them more time, they will not vacate the property anyway.

On August 15th, 2016, after going back and forth for a while and because we wanted to avoid all the legal paperwork needed for eviction, we signed a Letter of Agreement for a One Month Lease with them. They finally leaved on September 14.

The question is - can we keep the deposit as per the point above-mentioned and because they anyway stayed after the contract expiration?

Thank you for your attention.

Carlos A. Gonzalez, Florida

A: I'm a little leary about advising you there because so many states have enacted strict laws on returning security and the landlords are getting their butts sued off. As a general rule, security is only to cover damage to the property. Period. So if your agreement runs a foul of local security regulations, I really can't say.

Related Security Deposit forms :

Avoid lawsuits and comply with state security deposit return laws. Security Deposit Return Time Chart State by State

Security Deposit Settlement Statement

Property Condition Inspection Report

Security Settlement Challenge Crusher

Published 2016-09-16

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am a new member to LPA. We were showing a rental to potential tenants. A woman said she wanted the place. she texted me that "i will take it" I texted her back that I wanted money down and that we could not hold it for her without money down. she gave me 650 down. then when the rest of the money was due and we needed to meet and sign the lease and get her moved in she quit taking my calls and texts. on the fifth of July she texted me that she changed her mind and wanted the money back. I explained that this was the whole reason for asking for the money down and that if she wasn't sure she should not have had me hold the place. I did not give her money back regardless of the texts and phone calls from her and her mother. I told her if I rented the place I would prorate the money she paid and give her back money based on when I rented it. I am going to court now over this all and am being sued for the 650 and filing fees. was I within my rights to have kept the money down? when I go back and look at the check, she wrote "security" in the memo section. she is now trying to say she gave me security not a down payment.


A: Here we go again with the buyers deposit. (Check out my answer to Diane on 9/13). But in that case, the tenant signed the lease. Not here. A small claims judge could go either way on this. "Security" in the memo complicates it further. Hard to predict the outcome. Bring your checkbook.

Published 2016-09-15

Dear Mr. Reno:
Brother had legal issues. His wife and 2 kids were going to lose their house so they needed a place to stay. Mom invited them to stay a short time for her to get on her feet and find a place to stay. Of course not contract, all verbal. No money exchanged between her and mom. She began to become abusive to my mom. Mom is almost 80. Police were at the house twice although there were 4 instances of this abuse. We had her file a Quit with Sheriffs' Department. Quit was served and it is a 30 day quit. I have been trying to find out what constitutes vacated a premises. I noticed her once pack two suite cases and was not seen for 2 days with the kids. She still had personal belongings in the house. She has not indicated verbally or in writing her intent. If she leaves again and we do not see her or hear from her, is this considered vacating the premises? Should we have to ask her what her intentions are?

Thanks for your time.

Chuck Johnson, Burke, VA

A: This is the perennial question. When has the tenant vacated? It is not always clear. As a general rule, if her stuff is there, she's there, but not forever.

I would say, if she's gone 30 days, then put it in storage.

Dear Mr. Reno:
Good morning,
My question is if a tenant decides to breach her Suffolk County, NY lease and depart early, is the landlord allow to keep the last months rent that was collected at the signing of the lease? There is also security that will be used for any damages etc. The tenant is leaving 5 months into a 12 month lease. The tenant has given less than 30 days notice but has also provided 2 possible tenants to move in upon departure. One tenant wants it but does not have the financial ability to come up with first, last and 1 month sec. The other does have the financial ability. But I have not received the rental applications from either to allow the landlord to do their due diligence.

But the original question applies. Can the landlord keep the last months rent?
The tenant says no and the following "I understand the law allows me to be charged until the end of my lease but NOT if there is no loss of income. If a renter comes in October 1st you and the landlords are not allowed by law to keep any of my money. I've been renting all my life and have successfully sued two landlords in small claims court for keeping money not legally owed to them. I have no desire to enter into a cantankerous relationship now when it's been so lovely up to this point. There is no penalty allowed by law for leaving lease early. The lease is a contract and I am liable for the rent on the unit until the end of my lease UNLESS and until it is rented. If the unit stayed empty then I could be taken to court to collect on the lease. In these cases the landlord has to prove the unit is empty, has remained empty and not able to be rented. And in fact, the law states that first and last month payments can only be used for rent. Period. The statue is plain lease law available on several websites. "

I look forward to your reply.
Best Regards,

Janalyn Travis-Messer, Broker, Griffing & Collins Real Estate,
DJTM Enterprises, Llc

A: Where did you find this Clarence Darrow wanna-be?

If you re-rent without any loss of rent, your case for keeping that money is weak. You would have no damages, the money would be considered a penalty. I doubt most small claims judges would let you keep it.

But you can't insist on re-renting on the same terms. So if tenant A doesn't have the dough, you don't need to make a special arrangement to satisfy Clarence Darrow. Also tenant B hasn't put in the paperwork.

So it remains to be seen what will happen.

Dear Mr. Reno:
Property owned by parents and a daughter. Parents willing to sign rental agreement. Daughter has not, keeps postponing to sign, saying its already sign by the parents (parents paid for the property all cash)….
Do I need the daughter’s signature?
Thank you

Lala Shapona

A: You're cleared for take off Lala. Any owner can "let" the property. You don't need the whole cabal.

Dear Mr. Reno:
Sir,I have some people that I gave a lease to own deal with and specified they could move in if they would clean up the last tenants mess and they could live rent or lease free for 2months for doing so ,
that was in April of 2016, now it's sept 2016 and they haven't paid any monies at all to live there as agreed in the lease to own, now I have notified them via email , that I want them out ,cause I've Re-leased the property, and they agreed to move via email, by Sept 5th, andndndrathernswering haven't done so ,claiming they didn't have money for a truck to move ,and said they would be out by the 9th via email and now it's the 11th and they still haven't moved and claimed they can't afford to move how can I get them out of my property legally and immediately?

William Cayton, VA

A: You gave them a lease. That makes them tenants.

Serve a pay or quit- notice of default, or whatever and start your non-payment eviction.

Time's a wastin'!

Dear Mr. Reno:
I said no to my tenant's request to have a roommate since lease stipulates single occupancy.
Am I in violation of the roommate law?

Since the denial, tenant has accused me of not upholding lease 24 hour entry notice since I entered apartment in what I deemed an emergency due to probable water damage without notice. He deems a water leak not an emergency. I suggested we talk about his options to end the lease since he continues to be unreasonable.

Tenant has now begun written communication accusing me of inflammatory communication with him.

What are my rights as a landlord re occupancy and entry?
Can I suggest tenant pursue options to end lease, eg, assignment?
Should I just let it go?

Carol Eckermann, landlord, Syracuse, NY

A: All bad news Carol:

New York's "Roommate law" is very clear- you cannot deny your single tenant to have one non-tenant occupant.

And you have no absolute right to entry. Only whatever access rights are provided in the lease. Even those, hard to enforce. (A water "leak" is not an "emergency", like a fire.)

Published 2016-09-14

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am a landlord, and I rent a house to a tenant in California. My tenant's lease contract ended July 11, 2016. After the contract ended, it became a month to month lease. On July 30, 2016 I delivered a rent adjustment notice to this tenant. The tenant owns a beauty shop. She was working when I was there, and it was very busy and her daughter was helping. The tenant does not speak English. When I went inside, she and her daughter saw me. After waiting for a short time, the daughter came to speak with me. I sat down and pulled the paper document out and explained to her daughter. The rent adjustment started September 1 (thirty days notice was given). The tenant refuses to pay the increased rent. She states I did not give the notice directly to her, I had given it to her daughter. Her daughter is in junior high. The tenant saw me come into the beauty shop and saw me speaking to her daughter. The daughter has always been the one to communicate with me and translate to her mother. The tenant insists that I did not give the document to her, even though she was less than 10 feet away when I was explaining it to her daughter.

Can you please advise?

Rose, CA

A: You're on thin ice there Rose. Are we going to evict her for non-payment for not paying the increase? I wouldn't want to be the lawyer with that case.

Better off trying it again for November 1, 2016. This time, hire a process server for about 75 bucks so there's no loop hole. Also, review the fine print in your lease for special "notice" provisions that may apply. Good luck.

Published 2016-09-13

Dear Mr. Reno:
On September 2, 2016, we had two individuals that passed the credit and criminal check, give us the security deposit for our rental unit and at that time, they signed a year lease. We were to meet on September 15th to give them the keys to the unit, collect the rent for the month, collect the information stating that they obtained renters insurance, and changed all utilities into their names. They texted Sunday, 9/11/16, in the evening, and said that they no longer were interested in renting due to a car accident that a family member in the state of CA had. They insisted on getting back the deposit. My question to you is, are we required by law to give back the security deposit? We were under the impression that we could legally keep it and that we could legally hold them to the full year of rent. We do not wish to hold them to the lease agreement for one year, but want to keep the deposit because we now have to advertise again and are losing at least one month rent. Please advise.
Thank you,

Diane and Kirk N., LPA Members, KS

A: To all the crazy tenants (or would be tenants) that want their deposit back- I must ask- what is the reason of the deposit if it has to be returned? That's the whole point!

And you could technically sue them for every month that unit is vacant. THEY SIGNED A LEASE. IT'S A CONTRACT. WE ARE BOUND BY OUR AGREEMENTS!

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Legal Disclaimer
The Landlord Protection Agency's "Ask the Attorney" column is for informational purposes only. The questions answered by Mr. Reno on this site do not constitute an attorney - client relationship and are not to be considered legal advice. Not all questions will be answered and some may appear in the LPA Q&A Forum.
The Landlord Protection Agency recommends that you seek legal advice before using any of the material offered on this web site, and makes no guarantee on the effectiveness, compliance with local laws or success of any of the material offered on this web site. The Landlord Protection Agency is not engaged in rendering legal advice.

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