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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 2019-09-18

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have an agreement and rules and regs stipulating where tenants park, I have a tenant that parks across lines of spaces and in a totally different area that is designated. Attached is agreement and rules and regulations signed by tenants.

Question is, do I have authority to tow vehicle if not parked in designated area (Space) ot across multiple spaces.

George H Copeland, Massachusetts

A: My first thought was: "Tow the car!" What are you smoking, dope? But after thinking about it, well, the shopping centers do it. Why can't you? You would have to consult a licensed towing establishment. They are heavily regulated. They would tell you what the legal requirements would be (signage warnings, insurance, etc.) If they say you can, then maybe you can.

Dear Mr. Reno:
If a fifth wheeler who never paid a penny in either rent or utilities vacates property, leaving behind possessions, (including piles of garbage, non-working motorcycles, ) how long do I have to keep it before I can get rid of it? Can this ex-felon, (I only just found this out), be termed a tenant still though he has been gone eight days? (Was here only 3 months).

Dee Jones, Washoe Valley, NV

A: There really is no answer. Could you wait 30 days? That's just a rule of thumb- but not a law. Good Luck.

Published 2019-09-13

Dear Mr. Reno:
My tenant passed away she does not have an executor of her estate but has adult children. Who do I send the security deposit to?
She does not have a spouse. We are in CT.
thank you

Katie, CT

A: Technically, you are supposed to wait for an Executor to be appointed. But I would just give it to the kids. We're not talking about millions of dollars.

Published 2019-08-15

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a mother who co-signed lease for her three kids (all in their 20s.) The mother collects rent from kids and pays me. She wonít pay on time and going to court for third time. She pays at the last moment but we have to go through the entire court process. How do I get her to pay on time and can late fees be deducted from her security.

Sandy, East Orange , NJ.

A: It's a problem. Most courts are not keen on enforcing late fees. Does your lease allow that deduction from security? Otherwise, it's generally just for damages. I've even seen courts refuse to deduct unpaid rent from security, let alone late charges.

You've always got lease renewal time. So don't renew. Get another tenant. These people will never change.

Published 2019-08-07

Dear Mr. Reno:
Just purchased duplex home 2 months ago. Previous landlord evicted a tenant over a year ago but property is still stored in the basement. A large tv cabinet is in the living room that is about to be rented out. Tenant's mother still rents downstairs and she has tried to get her daughter to remove items. What recourse do I have. Thank you.

Sheila, Cleveland, Ohio

A: Evicted over a year ago? That milk is way past it's expiration date. (Dispose at will)

Published 2019-08-05

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a question regarding a tenant in New York Staten Island in particular The home is a 2 family and I'm a absentee landlord She & Her boyfriend moved in 3 years ago ( always late with rent)

The couple broke up and her girlfriend moved in to help pay rent since Jan 2019 things got worse they refuse to take out trash during pickup, rent hasn't been paid and they are destroying apt there are many new people living there And I've been threatened when I go there to check on house what are my options and as a landlord what can I do they said to me we are professional tenants don't mess with me

Kindly advise please in despite need of help
Best

Aniello, Staten Island, NY

A: Get a lawyer & fast. Serve a 60 day notice to vacate. If still in lease- send default notice.

Published 2019-08-01

Dear Mr. Reno:
Apartment on slab---water leak under slab (which has morphed into also a drain problem)--tenant without water two weeks; had to jack-hammer through floor--not finished yet--tenant caused (according to plumber--tenant doesn't know we have proof) a toilet overflow and she is complaining ; however, tenant staying in apartment--grandmother lives next door--she goes there for water/toilet needs.

Any suggestion on how much to compensate tenant for "inconvenience". Before this happened she was given a 60-day notice to leave.

John Grosmann -Ohio

A: Well for 2 weeks there was no water. That's the definition of uninhabitable. No rent due for 2 weeks.

Published 2019-07-30

Dear Mr. Reno:
My current tenant is finishing out a 6-month short term lease on an unregulated market-rate studio apartment in New York City. She has requested I place an out clause in a new lease providing her an option to end the lease early and still receive 100% deposit. Of course, I am refusing to do so. Do I have to serve her 30-day day notice to vacate? The lease expires July 3. My other question, is how do I have to serve her mail, hand, certified mail? Please advise.

Keith L. Forest, NYC

A: You should have it served personally (by hand) by a friend or process server who can testify in court, just in case it comes to that.

Published 2019-07-29

Dear Mr. Reno:
Question: Can I refuse to take section 8 applicant for my rental?

I have a question regarding to section 8 housing. My rental unit is located at Union City, CA; the county of alameda. I posted an ad to rent out a two beds and on bath unit and there is this person who contacted me and she said she is section 8, but I told her I donít accept section 8. She told me that there is a low in Union City and Fremont that does not allow landlord to not to accept section 8. I never heard of that before. Can I refuse to accept and to participate in the section 8 housing?

Thanks,

Kenny Lei, CA

A: Not sure. In liberal California, that would not surprise me, but I'm really not sure. Please consult a local atty. Sorry.

Published 2019-07-16

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have two questions, I have searched the forum but the responses seem varied sometimes contradictory.

#1: In a month to month lease, is it required to sign a new lease 30 days (or more) in advance of a rent increase? I know it would always make sense to do so, I am just curious if the law requires it (our tenant has already agreed to the increase via text message).

#2: In a month to month lease, if a tenant pre-pays for a long period of time (letís say a year), does that obligate the landlord to rent to them for that entire length of time? (for instance, a week after the pre payment, you find the tenant is dealing drugs on your property. Can you choose to terminate the lease, and refund the pre-paid rent? Or are you obligated once you accept the pre payment?)

Thank you so very much for your help!

Mannox, Maine

A: #1 That's tricky because there's actually a no law that a month to month has to be signed over. You can have a verbal month to month and I see it all the time. However,, without the written agreement for the rent increase, you could not evict for failure to pay the increase.

#2 That will depend on the written agreement. If the right to cancel is clear and unequivocable, you can still refund the money, but not without a fight, I'm sure.

Published 2019-06-19

Dear Mr. Reno:
My Issue:
More and more I am being faced with non-english speaking people who are interested in renting from me. My problem is 1. I speak english and only english so how could I have a successful tenant/landlord relationship with a tenant I can not communicate with? would it be discriminatory of me if I did not rent to them because of communication?
2. How can I perform proper screening if the applicant does not have a SS#, which often happens, the number of people who are here are not here legally, so once again, is that justification enough to not rent to them?
3. if I did decide to rent to a non english speaking family, and would only do this with a signed document from an interperter...would that hold up in court if I ended up being in court for a reason. if they don't speak english and don't read english, my lease is in english, they sign it, would it still be a legal binding contract?

any help, suggestions, opinion
thank you

Gina Franco, Massachusetts

A: If they're undocumented, that's not a problem, but if they're US citizens or resident aliens, you are on thin ice if you deny them based upon the language. That would be a Fair Housing Act violation. I know the language barrier will be an inconvenience to you, but that's where we are in 2019.

Related topics:
The LPA Lease - Spanish Version - (All Forms are included FREE with LPA Membership!)
The Landlord Protection Agency created The LPA Lease - SPANISH VERSION for landlords who have spanish speaking tenants. In some states, the landlord is required to supply non-english speaking tenants with a copy of the lease in their own language. https://www.thelpa.com/lpa/forms/ef-leasespan.html

3 Legal Ways to Reject a Tenant Applicant
https://www.thelpa.com/lpa/what/3reject.html

Published 2019-06-06

Dear Mr. Reno:
Im in the process of looking for a lawyer to represent me (landlord) to evict my tenant of 20+ years in the apartment. FYI... she has been living there since before I took over the house my parents left me.
no lease/no contract
$1075.00 per month rent Ö

I have decided to ask her to move on May 1, 2019 and gave her a verbal / written request to do so by Nov 1, 2019.
On June 1, when that months rent was due, I went to collect and she informed me that she will no longer pay rent because she needs that money in order to find another place to live and that I should take her to court.
Her apartment has not been updated as long as I have been in charge, I can't speak for my parents, however I did say to her that I wanted to do this, and that once completed she would be the first in line to have a chance to rent it again, of course at a higher rate that we will negotiate.

At this time, since she is forcing me to go to court.. I don't want her as a tenant anymore, saw a side of her, that I never knew existed. With that being said, I been calling around different lawyers for advise and I have gotten 2 different options from each, and I need to know from you if you will which is my best move.
1.... 3 / 5 day Notice for Non Payment of Rent
2.... 30 day Holdover to Vacate / Evict
not sure quiet the exact terminology.

At this point, in a perfect world, I want my rent and I want her evicetedÖ YESTERDAY!
However, I understand that is not possible.

My question to you Ö which of the 2 is more advisable to do?
I been told if I go with 3/5 day notice, she can pay July and come August she denies payment, and then I have start over again.
With the 30 day Holdover Eviction, If she offers Rent while this is going on, I can't accept, and the process can take anywhere from 3/6/12 months Ö and I would be out of rent.

Sooooooo this is my dilemma.
Can you guide me to the most efficient way of handling this problem?
Sincerely,

Isabel Cataldi

A: That is a dilemma, yes. Nonpayment is faster, that is, unless they pay- thin it fails.

Thirty Day is definite always works- but it's slower.

Pick your poison.

Published 2019-05-31

Dear Mr. Reno:
We have a tenant in our rent house in Garland Texas who is very rough on appliances. They've lived there approximately 5 years and they have have gone through 2 ranges and 2 refrigerators. Is there any way, legally, that we can state in their new lease agreement that we will not replace them once the warranty is over and/or they're not repairable? If so, how would we phrase this in the lease agreement?
Thank you,

Ronald Crouch, Dallas, Texas

A: So, "The tenants are responsible for the repair and/or replacement of all appliances". That's fine, but will they agree to that?

There's the rub.

Published 2019-05-29

Dear Mr. Reno:
We had tenants who were continually racking up late rent payment fees over a ten year period and we continued to warn them but they never paid the fees. They recently vacated the premises without giving proper notice and left a mess. Can we now sue them for breach of lease agreement and include the accumulated late fees? Thank you for any help you can provide.

Bill V., in Colorado

A: Yes, but the problem is finding them. I just answered this recently. You can sue for breaking the lease, damages, etc., but to sue someone you have to serve them a summons.

Some courts have let me use the "last known address" which is the rental unit, which results in a default judgment b/c these low life's don't forward their mail. But some courts say no- you can't pretend they're still there. So that's sometimes a problem.

Published 2019-05-15

Dear Mr. Reno:
I tried using a collection agency to help me to recover monies that a tenant owed also damages to the property she started to pay then stop she engaged her brother who is an attorney now the agency wants me to pay them over $3.000.to continue with the case I don't have that money what do I do .

Hyattsville Maryland

A: Find another agency.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have two ladies that rented a unit from me for a florist shop. Both signed the one year Lease, and each did an application for me. Within one month, it seems they have come to a parting of the ways because of who is doing the most work, who is spending the most money, etc. They have both asked that one party be removed from the Lease. The one wanting to continue the business seems confident that she can manage on her own without the other person.

I am not sure how to approach this situation, because I can see room for confusion. For example, at the end of the tenancy, who gets the security deposit, if one is due and payable. I have had this problem pop up with residential tenants as well. I would be very interested in your thoughts on how you would handle this. Thanks so much!

K. Lacey, Florence, Ms.

A: Tell them no. Whatever arrangements they want to make to dissolve their partnership- that's their business. It had nothing to do with you.

If one tenant wants to do all the work, keep all the $ & pay all expenses, they should sign an agreement saying that. But its got nothing to do with you. They both signed the lease and are both responsible

Dear Mr. Reno:
2 tenants signed a 1 year lease dec 2018. Now they are having marital issues so one tenant is leaving and one is staying. Whats a good way to remove that person from the lease and are there any other ramifications to be aware of?

John Keeble

A: Why, why, why? Why are you landlords so obsessed with removing such a person. They're name on that least doesn't hurt anybody and can help you in the event of a default. You are under no obligation to remove them.

When the lease expires,, renew with the sole survivor only.

Published 2019-05-08

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a tenant whom came through section 8, they have stopped paying a rent. she has several children. not able to pay rent for over 3 years. how do I get her out of my property section 8 DCHousing will not help me.

Utheldra, Washington DC.

A: That shouldn't be a problem. You can still evict for nonpayment; even if Section 8 is paying, if the tenant isn't paying their share, you can evict on that basis.

Published 2019-05-01

Dear Mr. Reno:
My tenant in Arizona is stating that the pet fee on the pet application which is not legal. I charged $250 as a pet fee and she stated after almost a year of living there that it was not legal. It was basically a per pet fee. She has about five pets and negotiated with me to only charge $250 as a single pet fee. I did not state it was a deposit. She says that pets canít pay a fee so itís illegal. Do you know of anything in AZ law that would make that not legal.

Pauline L.

A: I must confess- not expert on every state law everywhere but I will say this: I have never heard in any state of a law banning pet fees. If its an emotional special needs pet, or seeing eye dog, thatís one thing, otherwise is there a blanket law? Never heard of it.

Related Forms:

Pet Agreement

Pet Application Form

Dear Mr. Reno:
Tenant claims landlord entered unit illegally and outside of business hours, emotional restitution, hours missed from work. Suing for $6,000.00 in small claims court trial date May 17, 2019.

We have emails to prove that they first complained of warping floor 1/8/2019. 1/9/2019 10:01PM I responded that Robert would check out the problem at 9AM. They responded 1/9/2019 10:12 requesting Friday 6PM.
When I responded agreeing to their time and date request I asked if there was any water from window or fridge in the kitchen because I knew exactly where he was referring to.
Robert saw the warping floor at their agreed time and let them know he had to get handyman estimate for repair.
Monday 1/14/2019 Robert and handyman ring the front doorbell at approximately 6PM. Since no response Robert knocks again on the unit door before using his key to enter.

1/14/2019 Tenant sends me email 6:34PM that we need to have serious talk about Robertís behavior. That Robert just entered the apartment without permission while he was naked and about to jump into the shower.
That he will be speaking to the SF tenants union about this behavior. That it was unbelievable and unforgivable.

My photographs of the floor on the described area when they originally rented show no difference to what they were complaining about.

They give notice to terminate lease 1/19/2019. Their terms and conditions proposed:
Security deposit returned $4,650.00 on 2/16/2019; Rent, utilities from 2/1 to 2/16 waived; and keys returned 2/16/2019.

We send email correspondence item #33 on the lease.
We sent email 1/30/2019 Tenants notice to vacate
We send email 2/8/2019 General Release of Liability
2/24/2019 email correspondence regarding CA Civil Code Section 1967
2/28/2019 emailed again General Release of Liability
3/4/2019 email correspondence with no response

All the emails correspondences and text messages were with me but the defendant is Robert.

Please advise what to do, what to expect or how to prepare for this trial date.

Thanks,

Gina, San Francisco, CA

A: Wow! That's a mouthful.

They will never get reimbursed for emotional, so don't worry.

Print out all your e-mails to show the judge. You should be fine.

Published 2019-03-21

Dear Mr. Reno:
Former tenants' security deposit did not cover full extent of damage. I sent a security settlement statement advising tenants of the balance due, and asking for payment within 15 days. Tenants sent immature responses, so I sent the Security Settlement Challenge Crusher in response. Tenants have not paid the balance, or responded back now for 6 weeks. The balance due is not enough for me to spend time with court costs and take off work to sue them for it, so I am inclined to not reach out to them for the balance due. Should I send another letter reminding them to pay, even if I have no plans to sue? Or would letting this go become a problem for me if they decide to sue me for the security deposit down the road?

Sugar M

A: They would have sued you by now, but one more letter won't hurt. Go for it.

Related Forms:

security settlement statement Security Settlement Statement
condition checklist Property Condition Report & Checklist
security deposit crusher Security Settlement Challenge Crusher

Published 2019-03-12

Dear Mr. Reno:
Situation:
I have a renter that is approx.. 75 days away from lease expiration. In recent talks they expressed wanting to renew so I sent them the paperwork at the beginning of March. Over the last couple weeks they have they have become "combative" in arguing inspection reports, language in the lease, mildly rude text messages and lose demands on changing the terms of the lease. I am not feeling comfortable about future business with them but I have already verbally agreed to allow them to renew the lease. I haven't got any paperwork back from them yet.

Question:
Given the previous conversation and timeframe, am I within my legal rights to withdraw my previous verbal offer and chose NOT to renew with them?
Thanks for your time,

Evan, Apple Valley, Minnesota

A: Even if a verbal agreement could be enforced (which I doubt legally that it could), this lease is under negotiation, which means there is NO AGREEMENT on terms and language. So if you want to walk like Trump in N. Korea, you're cleared for take off.

Related forms:
Notice to Terminate Tenancy or a Non-Renewal Notice.

Also, check your state's minimum notice period before sending a notice.

Published 2019-02-06

Dear Mr. Reno:
You probably have answered this in the past, so feel free to send me the link to your answer. I have a tenant that signed a year lease with me here in florida and after 2 months just moved out...they claimed their family was in danger...HE was constantly gone on his job...she claimed she smelled smoke and that there was an electrical issue...My answer to her was to call the electrical provider to determine what the issue is. They came out and said they didn't see any issue. She then called Code Compliance and claimed the roof was leaking and there was mold in the house...they couldn't find anything when they went out...but these tenants without PUTTING me on notice moved out. They did not use the last month rent they had on deposit and I do have a deposit and non-refundable cleaning fee. The lease they signed said NO Pets and I found out they had 4 dogs there from others in the area...not to mention the mess and stench left at the house from the pets.

I use the LPA lease which requires written notice and I do not allow someone to break a lease. BTW, they talked to my tenant next door and she said they were planning to move to Georgia as his company has plenty of work for him there...he was IN Georgia at the time and was there the entire month of December...The move out was in January 2019. The move-in was Nov 1st 2018. They refused to speak with me and even called the sheriff when I went out there to find out what was going on.

Can I go after these people for the rent since they just walked away ...and the damages they caused if it exceeds what I have on deposit for them?
Thanks in advance.
My Best wishes for you,

Cheryl Kissell, FL

A: Yes, you can go after them, if you can find them. After you rerent, you sue for lost rent & damages. But such a course is an investment of time & money with no guarantees.

You may want to use the LPA's tenant reporting options which have been known to get results when the credit report is threatened.

Delinquent Rent - Bad Debt Collection Reporting to Credit Bureau

Published 2019-01-29

Dear Mr. Reno:
I own a house in Queens NY that is rented. There is a lease agreement with my tennants which has a early termination clause by way of an addendum of a 60 day notice condition. It states that this can be effected by either party. Is this enforceable in NYC?
Thanks in advance for your advice

George Bramwell, Queens NY

A: Yes. If the lease clearly states that either party can terminate on 60 days notice that is enforceable. Your only problem is the NYC Housing Court is very "pro tenant" and if their rent is current your eviction will probably take several months.

Published 2019-01-15

Dear Mr. Reno:
Departing tenants caused excessive wear and tear to the hardwood floors, which I can document with before/after photographs and video. The floors were 11 years old when they moved in, and in 1 year, their dogs caused excessive gouging/scratches to the floors--primarily on one level of the house, and the stairs. Cost to refinish the floors is more than their pet and security deposits. I'm trying to determine what's reasonable because the floors were not brand new when they moved in, and I will not refinish the floors until I put the property for sale. I have a proposal from a reputable wood re-finisher which divides up charges for each level of the house and the stairs. I thought charging 100% for the stairs as they were in excellent condition before, and 50% for the level with the most scratches would be the way to go. I would eat the cost for the resurfacing the other level, which has what I'd call normal wear and tear from their tenancy. What do you suggest as a fair/reasonable way to charge for the excessive wear and tear to the floors?

Sugar

A: I would say whatever the cost is ask them to pay half (but if it goes to court, you're for suing the whole thing.)

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am a landlord in Northern NJ and I am currently seeking an experienced landlord attorney specifically in Northern Nj. I am located in Bergen county. I am seeking an attorney who has experienced evicting bad tenants .
I have a tenant their lease expires on July 31 2019, who are been constantly violating the lease term and condition and have also endanger our lives by causing fire, vandalism of property, unsupervised children who throws object at incoming traffic, screen all thrown out , and many other damages and violations. The Tenant pays on time .
The tenant has been warned multiple times through text and email they would stop for few days but then restart all over again. They have also prevented inspection and repairs even after 4 days notification and they have brought their cult members to threaten and obstruct repair work and inspection.

This is a 2 family owner occupied home.in NJ, I live on one and rent the other.
I am really concerned .I look forward to hearing from you soon. and thank you in advance
Kind Regards

Kaiser, NJ

A: The hardest thing to do in landlord court is to evict a tenant who's current. Your best bet is to advise them of your issues and that their lease will not be renewed if they don't clean up their act. If that doesn't work, well, July will be here before you know it.

Published 2018-12-19

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am the landlord/owner of a (quiet, with professionals) multifamily in Montclair NJ. I live on the third flr and have engaged a local realtor to find a tenant for the second flr.

My question: If the realtor finds a person or couple that they believe is suitable and passes a background/credit report, if I believe the renter(s) are unsuitable to rent in this location, how much leeway do I have to credibly reject the tenant(s). Specifically I have two guys in their early 20s that are interested in the apartment. They are single. I have a quiet house with a quiet 1st and 3rd flr (me) apts. If these fellows want to party and are not quiet (in this 100 year house where there is not a great amount of sound isolation), I am afraid that I will again lose my good 1st flr tenants. Really I am looking for quiet professionals but cannot advertise that. Any advice? Thanks!

Dave, NJ

A: You're a little out of my area. I'm that "who do you want kicked out lawyer" not the "who do we let in lawyer", but in general, you have race, religion, sex, natural origin, etc. These are the unlawful discrimination categories. Otherwise, you're okay.

See LANDLORD SPECIAL REPORT: 3 Easy Ways to Reject a Tenant Applicant

Published 2018-12-17

Dear Mr. Reno:
We recently had tenants sign a rental agreement and give their nonrefundable deposit to move in on December 15, 2018. A week went by and they have advised us that their house fell through and they need to cancel the rental agreement and want their deposit back. Can you please let me know if we are legally to give them back their deposit in whole or in part and what would be reasonable. If you could respond as soon as possible, I would really appreciate it, as they want their deposit back now and time is of the essence.

Thank you for your help

Tracy Duncan, California

A: I get this question all the time, and I can never give a good answer because there are so many variables. It's very frustrating. Here's what I mean:

What was signed? Anything? All verbal? Got lease? Signed? What about the deposit? Give a receipt? What does that say? Does it say non-refundable? Is there any documentation at all where you specified what would happen if the tenant backed out?

Otherwise, it's a crap shoot (am I allowed say that?) Offer half.

Published 2018-12-10

Dear Mr. Reno:
Hi,

Background:
I have an 8 unit property in Santa Monica.
We have rent control.
I just went through a rent decrease petition hearing in which the hearing officer awarded the tenant $50 per month rent reduction. $30 for not having green grass (Turf).
$20 for not having a cleaning service in the laundry room.

Why I am asking you instead of my local advisers:
While my local apartment association is active; I feel my apartment association has taken a non activist role in defending local landlords from the unlawful practices of the rent control department.
(for example, the board of directors made a backroom deal not to oppose the rent control department following position: "landlords should not be allowed to pass through Add On Taxes (to the Property Tax )").

Both of the decisions should be barred because of the preemptive clause.
In California, only 16+ units require an onsite manager. The decision in this hearing is basically punishing me for not having an onsite manager.
Santa Monica has a Turf Reduction policy. In addition, the hearing officer acknowledged that there is no sprinkler system when the tenant moved in so the tenant is not entitled to that amenity.

Finally the most serious point for me is that I was discriminated against during the Hearing. The Hearing officer did not allow my witness to testify because the same witness was assisting me during the hearing proceedings. I have a disability related to Diabetes and my mom passed away in July. The hearing was conducted in August.

I needed an assistant because of emotional and physical support.

First, what are your thoughts?
Second, my main question is: As a pro-LL activist, do you see justification to sue the city or should I give up?

I have talked to several lawyers; and most of them say it is easier to comply than to fight it in court. However, that all depends on the departments willingness to let go of a levy on a landlord. I do have a compliance request already filed; but it may cost as much as legal fees to get the compliance approved than it would be to sue the city for the ADA and state violations.

Daniel Davidsohn

A: Don't you know " you can't fight City Hall"? Because they're all in cahoots (Did I Spell that right?) The Judge when you get to Court will be the hearing officer's father-in-law.

Also, the rent control department are appointees of elected officials. So she Court's say, if you don't like what they do, elect different people.

It's a no win situation.

Published 2018-11-27

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a month to month tenant that was evacuated because of the wildfire in N. California.
sheís been displaced staying with friends for two weeks.
Her renterís agreement states that she must have renters ins.
She is wanting me to refund her rent for when she was displaced & her security deposit immediately.
She says she will move, but hasnít given me notice or a date.
I need advice on how to proceed with this. Thanks.

Rebecka Zahnd - California

A: So, your position is that even though she was evacuated, she should still pay? How does that work?

Now let's talk about renter's insurance. I thought that's just for property loss. You're thinking her renter's insurance would reimburse her for paying you rent while she's evacuated. I never heard of it.

The security deposit issue depends on if and when she can move back. Is she cleared to move back in? If not, are we talking days, weeks, years? You don't have to agree to cancel for a "temporary" displacement. But at some point- you'll have to part ways.

Published 2018-11-20

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a tenant that has delivered to me a letter from a therapist. The therapist states that in her opinion my tenant meets the definition of disabled under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The letter also states that the therapist is recommending an emotional support animal. The lease my tenant signed has a no pets section. What are my options, if any?

Also, if I am required to allow the emotional support animal/pet in the unit, what requirements are there to inform the other tenants? Thanks

Russ, Minnesota

A: I'm seeing these more and more for "emotional" support which now means any nut job can have one. If she gets the emotional support animal officially it's a done deal. You do not get a vote or have standing to object.

A formal notice (letter) to the other tenants would be advisable.

Published 2018-11-14

Dear Mr. Reno:
Can I start a small claims proceeding for past due rent from a tenant while we are on Eviction proceedings?

**Note, the tenant did not answer the petition and a default judgement has been made against her. A warrant request has been made.
County: Bronx County
Thank you

Bibi, NY

A: You can't sue for the same past due rent but some landlords sue in small claims for additional rent due which was not included in the eviction.

Published 2018-11-08

Dear Mr. Reno:
We have a tenant who is active duty military. We received applications for a rental online from him and his spouse. He was deployed at the time of application and lease signing. The lease took effect 6/5/18. He returned from deployment 6/26/18 and has been living in the unit since then.
On 10/15/18 he contacted our office saying he was getting divorced, his wife had moved out and he wanted out of the lease. We informed him of the clause in our lease regarding breaking the lease. His wife just called and said he is claiming her POA had been revoked and she had forged his signature on both documents. Since he has lived in the unit since the end of June, does he have any legal standing to get out of the lease?
Thank you for your time.
V/r,

Heather

A: He has no right to break the lease but you should let him out of because of his military status. You get into it with him & he stops paying & if you have to evict "Soldier boy" you're in for 40 miles of rough road.

Published 2018-10-29

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am a commercial warehouse landlord in Kent, WA state, we also have damages from (2) Tenants. Should I just file an insurance claim? Could I hire you to guide me pro se?

I sent my lease to John @ the Landlord Protection Agency, I'm sure he would share it with you. Thank you!

Margaret, WA

A: If you think your insurance may cover this (I really doubt it) but file the claim before you miss some notice deadline. Worse thing is, they say no.

Also, notify tenants to repair the damage, or they'll be in default.
Let's see what happens.

Published 2018-10-22

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a tenant who is moving out under less than favorable conditions. Her friend has asked to rent the apartment. My concern is some form of retribution from the former tenant should she come visit the new tenant. Is it legal to ban a formed tenant from visiting one of my rentals.And stating so in the lease. I believe this interested party is highly qualified to rent.

T. Frost Schenectady, NY

A: That's not allowed in NY. You can put it in the lease, that's not a crime, but no court will enforce that restriction.

Published 2018-10-19

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am a landlord in Colorado. My new tenant moved in and I noticed damages to my unit and the common area of the building. The tenant told me that the furniture movers had caused the damage and would be back to make repairs. I don't expect the movers to make repairs since it has been several weeks since the damage occurred. How do I get the repairs completed and paid for? I would prefer not to deduct from the security deposit since that may be needed for damages at end of lease.
Sincerely,

Marty Wilczewski, CO

A: You can probably stop waiting for them. Start getting estimates. When you decide how much, prepare a payment schedule.

If no dice, there's always small claims court.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I'm trying to help my 97-year old mother. She owns a piece of land and mobile home in Reno. In 2014 she created a Lease with Purchase Option with her tenants which matures in 2020. The tenants have defaulted on rent many times and are now over two months behind as well as being behind on utilities and taxes. They are telling lies and causing other issues. Can you give me advice on how my mom can break this purchase option legally and remove these tenants? We've been told that if the tenant fights the eviction process, she would probably win.

I've also been told laws are different when a manufactured house is involved.

Kind regards,

Rita P.,

A: Yes, the tenants will win if THEY PAY! You need to start a no-pay eviction.

If they cough it up, they're there until 2020. Why a homeowner of a residential would give a multi-year lease I will never understand.

Dear Mr. Reno:
Fail to vacate left on tenants door with attached letter reads as-I will not be accepting these attached payments or any future rent payments.You have 10days to vacate this property.Fail to comtply will result in the criminal charge fail to vacate.

Today the Sheriff served him with the criminal citation fail to vacate and a court date.

This tenant seems to think he he will win in court because I gave his rent back & refused this months payment.
Am I missing something?
A month to month tenant can be evicted without reason.This is Arkansas law

Angel Martin in Arkansas: Manager

A: Now what the heck is this all about? Criminal charges? Say what?

Question: If you wanted him out, should you have given a 30 day notice? Ten if no pay. Thirty to terminate? (need more info.)

Published 2018-10-10

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a former tenant (month to month) who did NOT give 30 day notice she was vacating, so I kept the deposit, she is now threatening to sue me. Wasn't this correct? The Property Code says she actually owes MORE- see below and thank you


PROPERTY CODE
TITLE 8. LANDLORD AND TENANT
CHAPTER 91. PROVISIONS GENERALLY APPLICABLE TO LANDLORDS AND TENANTS
Sec. 91.001. NOTICE FOR TERMINATING CERTAIN TENANCIES. (a) A monthly tenancy or a tenancy from month to month may be terminated by the tenant or the landlord giving notice of termination to the other.
(b) If a notice of termination is given under Subsection (a) and if the rent-paying period is at least one month, the tenancy terminates on whichever of the following days is the later:
(1) the day given in the notice for termination; or
(2) one month after the day on which the notice is given.

Lyla Davis, Texas

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

Published 2018-10-01

Dear Mr. Reno:
First of all thank you for taking the time to provide us Landlords with your advice!
PROPERTY IS IN MARYLAND

Here are some facts leading to my question about a lease violation and whether a penalty would hold:

(1) Tenant's 1 yr. lease will be expiring 10/31/2018. In the lease it states that it is required for the tenant to have Renter's Insurance within 14 days of moving in. In the case of violation, Owner may issue a Notice of Lease Violation and obtain insurance on the tenant's behalf at the tenant's expense. In the event a written Notice of Lease Violation is issued...tenant shall correct within 5 days...If tenant fails to correct violation, they will be responsible for a Lease Violation Penalty Fee in accordance with another section where I defined the lease violation penalty fee for uncorrected lease violation to be $500 per month until corrected.

(2) I have constantly through the year have asked the tenant for proof of insurance and nothing. I issued the Notice of Lease violation back in March 2018, sent emails, and nothing. Up this point I have never received proof that she has renters insurance.

Question: Can I legally apply this rule and charge the security deposit according to what the lease says. This would mean $500 x 12 months (above the security deposit). In my opinion this is not reasonable. I would be happy if I could at least just charge a one time fee of $500 but I don't even know if this would hold in court if it came to that.

Jorge Pena, MD

A: It's up to the Judge. Sometimes they follow the lease, but sometimes they don't like these penalty clauses. Especially where there's no direct damage to you.

One per month would definitely be deemed excessive. One per year, maybe, but what, you'll go to small claims court? Over this?

Why don't you tell them if they don't get the insurance, their lease will not be renewed? That might wake her up.

Published 2018-09-24

Dear Mr. Reno:
Question: There is what we consider a squatter in our rental house. The Judge considers him a tenant because he moved in and had the electric and water turned on in his name, unauthorized. We were told to go through the eviction process as if he was a tenant, which we did. At Court, the defendant lied under oath saying that he paid rent and did repairs to the house. He had no proof. He also said it was dangerous for him and his 3 babies to live there because the electrical breaker would sometimes shut off. The Judge ruled in his favor and said he could live there for the rest of his life if he chose to do so.

Can we move into our own house to do needed repairs while the squatter is there?

Thank you ever SO much!

Jacqueline, Texas

A: The judge said what? This is the most bizarre thing I've heard (this week.)

So he said he pair rent. So he's a tenant- with no lease. He gets a 30 day notice- then back to court.

Published 2018-09-10

Dear Mr. Reno:
Good Morning!
I have two tenants in a building that do not get along.
The downstairs tenant has complained about noise from Day 1. She is currently in a 12 month lease until January 2019. I have offered to move her to another building, break her lease without prejudice, waive her necessity to give notice, but she refuses to move and instead complains at least once a month. The police have been called numerous times. She is currently pressing me for their contact information so she can file a civil suit.

The upstairs tenant has been with us for more than 5 years. He is currently in a month to month lease. He has been spoken to about the noise (which we have never received complaints about before). He has not complained to me at all but I believe he has initiated calls to the police at times when the verbal arguments escalate. I recently had a rather abusive conversation with a "friend" of his that blames me for the situation and feels that I am not acting to protect them and evict the tenant downstairs.

Can I evict both of them? It is not a monetary issue, which is the only type of situation I have had to evict under.
If I am able to evict, how much notice would it require?
I have attached a sample of our lease agreement for reference.
--
Thank You!

Jane Collins - North Carolina

A: Sounds to me like the downstairs tenant is the fly in the ointment. You're stuck with her until January.

Upstairs guy gets a 30 day notice to vacate (some states require 60- so check that). It sounds like he is a victim of a very fussy, demanding person downstairs. (Why can't we all just get along?)

Published 2018-09-05

Dear Mr. Reno:
Unit is in Los Angeles. Renter permanently stain 14 year old carpet. I have before and after photos to prove the renter damaged the carpet. Can I keep the full security deposit? Or due to the age of the carpet, do I have to give some or all of the $2,300 deposit back? Replacement will cost more. Thank you,

Dawn, CA

A: Usually a paid bill does the trick. So if you replace the rug- or pay to clean it, you can deduct. Otherwise, not so much.

Published 2018-09-04

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a disruptive tenant that owns his own mobile home in my park, he is arguing with the neighbors and causing so much grief I am risk of loosing 2-3 of my tenants. He has been accused of a lot of things but there is no proof. He is not behind in rent but has been late 2 times. Is there any basis or a way that he can be evicted. Also he currently does not have a lease, but again he owns the trailer and just pays lot rent.

Thank You,

Mark F., Oneonta, NY

A: He needs a Thirty days notice to vacate. (Another softball knocked out of the park.)

Published 2018-08-28

Dear Mr. Reno:
Scenario: Garage door replacement.
Old door had functioning garage door opener and opener was already present when tenant moved in. Landlord replaces old garage door with a new door, removes the old garage door opener, and does not provide a new garage door opener.
Tenant is complaining. Is landlord obliged to re-install a garage door opener?
There is no appliance list nor mention of the garage door opener in the lease agreement.
Thank you.

John Charles, California

A: You don't have to, but maybe you should?

I don't see anything the tenant can do. They wouldn't be able to withhold rent on that, or if so, only a minute portion (less than 5%). So there's not much your tenant can do to compel you.

But you're going to have an unhappy tenant.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I got your info online and seem to me you are an experience attorney dealing with eviction related to rent stabilized tenant. I am a home owner and please read below. This is in Queens County.

Here is my situation:
I bought this 2 family house from a bank with an elderly lady living there. Later on I found out the house used to be garden community and she is rent stabilized tenant.

At some point, I went to the housing office and wanted to find out more about it. Housing authority initially verdict that this not a rent stabilized apartment but later when she appealed with her docs and rent history where she had been living in the apartment since 1967 and at that point it used be part of garden community housing and later in 1980s, it has been converted to many 2 family houses.

As she had been living there since 1967, prior to 1969 based date, she is entitled to live as rent stabilized tenant.

She move out on November of 2015 on her own due to some health reason and I thought my apartment is a regular apartment and I rented the apartment to a lady for a year lease as a regular apartment for 1800 per month.
This new lady, caused me lot of headache. She moved in the apartment giving me security deposit check with closed bank account and continued to live. Long story short, I acted little naive and she continue to live in the apartment and owing me more and more money towards rent as time passed. Also sublet my apartment. Last time she paid me 1000 on November 17th, 2017.

Finally I started eviction process in March of 2018 and while knowing that my apartment is a regular apartment. Finally her attorney, show Cause, last week, August 17th that my apartment is rent stabilized
According to the contract, the lady owe me over 22000.00(22K).

What is my option? Can I evict her regardless of my apartment being rent stabilized or not?
Also can I deregulate this apartment? I believe some rules like that exist for condo/coop.

Please let me know if you can help me. I am not familiar with the terms and rules related to this at all.

Regards

Kazi

A: That's way out of my area, sorry Kazi. I am actually not a rent stabilized lawyer.

You really need an expert for this. You want to "deregulate". That's a tall order. Good luck with that!

Dear Mr. Reno:
I own a non owner-occupied triple decker. Recently, one of my tenants told me that he is noticing high volume traffic (men coming in and out of one of the apartments) at odd hours (1am, 2am, 4am, etc.). The apartment is leased to one man who is a "tenant at will" and he has a roommate. Do you have any suggestions on how to approach the traffic issue?

Kind regards,

Judy Bayog

Judith Bayog, Boston, MA

A: So we're talking drugs, I assume, start with a letter. They should be made aware that the traffic is unacceptable- and if it doesn't stop, they will get a Notice to Vacate.

Probably end up going that route anyway.

Published 2018-08-03

Dear Mr. Reno:
Tenant eviction was completed with Sheriff Lock out. We began the process of a HORRIBLE mess left behind. Tenant has come back into the property after locks changed (broke in). Tenant claims she has 72 hours to recover her belongings. Some have been removed due to horrible odor and 4 cats left in the unit. What legal rights do we have and herself.
Thank you!!!

Shirley Patee, California, Property Manager - Preferred Rental Properties

A: Call the cops. Tenant not allowed back in house after Sheriff Lock out. That would be criminal trespass.

Published 2018-08-02

Dear Mr. Reno:
This is an issue that I have never had before.... Tenant died in the house. We found him when the family came to do a welfare check. He was the only person on the lease. No will. Rent was paid for that month and lease was is up at the end of that month. Family wants to get in and start selling, no probate since they cannot find the will. How would anyone respond to this? I am in Ohio just a FYI since I know laws vary from state to state.

Jeni S., OH

A: Without probate court- the kinfolk have no rights. But let me make a suggestion:

Let them take what they want. If they'll clean out the place, they're doing you a big favor. You can wait for the Court to appoint an Executor- but that could take months.

There's a legal way to do this. And then there's an easy way. Take your pick.

Published 2018-08-01

Dear Mr. Reno:
We live in Washington and have rentals in Texas. One of the houses was vacant and a person moved in on their own, without permission, etc. He called and put the water & electric in his name, so I know his name. He has been there at least 2 months. We had another tenant of ours post a 3-day notice on his door. Nothing, of course since he knows we live in WA.

My question is, can we fly to Texas, let ourselves into our own house and stay in our own house in order to get rid of this trespasser? Can we legally move their stuff out?
Thank you,

Jacqueline J., TX

A: The answer to the Second question is definitely not- but the answer to the first question is definitely maybe. I say that because there's nothing stopping you from moving in until the police come. What will they do? Can't say. Depends on who pulls up. These cops don't know the law. They make it up as they go. Can't predict.

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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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