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Eviction Attorney

Q&A with John Reno, Eviction Attorney

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Published 2015-08-31

Dear Mr. Reno:
My name is Chris and I live in a apartment in NC, recently our 19 year old daughter came to stay with us with her 8 month old son, while her husband stayed in NY. She was to stay with us for a little while and we would help her get on her feet. In the three months she has been with us she has become violent, threatening, disrespectful and does not contribute anything to the household financially or in any other way. Can I serve her with a notice to quit? And if she doesn’t leave have her taken out for trespassing? There is no written agreement whatsoever. Thank you

Chris, NC

A: First off, she not trespassing because you let her in. Now, she may be an unwelcome guest. But she still gets a 30 day notice and then its eviction court.

Note: You may get transferred to Family Court. But try eviction court first.

Dear Mr. Reno:
My tenant (who does not have a rental agreement nor a lease) has had only 1 rent increase over the last 22 years…&600 to $800 8 years ago. Am I within my rights to increase his rent to $950/month, if I give this tenant 60 days’ notice? Thank-you for your help and prompt answer.

Joan H

A: Yes, you may. Go for it!

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have rental properties in Winston Salem, NC. I currently have a tenant that gave a 60 day notice to vacate because he is buying a house. We placed ads to re-rent the house and have since signed a contact and received a deposit with the new tenant. The current tenants term runs thru September 30th and the new tenant begins on October 1st.

I received a call yesterday from my current tenant that his home deal fell though and wants to renew his lease for another year. He has been a great tenant, pays on time, never complains and has maintained the home to our standards. Are we legally obligated to the new tenant to rent them the house?
With Best Regards,

Tammy Melang

A: Well the magic word is "contract" (you say you signed one) but I wouldn't be surprised if you can get out of it. If you tell them the other tenant isn't vacating and you may have to evict them and you probably wont have the unit available for several months- I think they'll be happy to just get their money back ASAP. Probably. Unless they say, " no problem, we'll wait." Then you have a problem


Published 2015-08-28

Dear Mr. Reno:
Hi, we live in South Carolina, have tenant in California who has not paid rent on a regular basis. (house) At present he owes Approx 29K. Rent from 1994 to present. He owns business in Ca. What possibility do we have if we evict him to collect money.

Robert, SC

A: It looks bleak. For 29 grand they'll probably file bankruptcy.

Right now your main priority should be evicting them & getting real rent paying tenants in there.

Then you can worry about chasing these dead beats.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I emailed tenants to get their permission to drop off their security deposit status documents on the date required in my state (21 days after they moved out). They emailed me back and said NO, do not drop off the documents because they weren't going to be home. They asked me to drop them in the mail instead. As a result they received the security deposit in the mail 23 days after they moved out. Consequently they sued in small claims court and the judge awarded them double the original amount by default as I was unable to appear at that hearing. I am able to reopen the case now. My question is: do I have a chance of getting a different result from the judge since I have the email which is proof they told me not to return the documents on the 21st day?

Debra W.

A: You've got a shot. Go for it. (Nothing to lose at this point.) Good luck!


Published 2015-08-26

Dear Mr. Reno:
The HOA (Alderwood Ridge) in Lynnwood is trying to create new rules requiring me to hire property management and landscaping services to maintain my property instead of allowing me or my tenants to maintain the premises. Can they do that?


A: Yes they can! The association is supposedly a "democratically" elected body. If the owners don't like what the board is doing, you can vote them out. (Like that would ever happen!) But it's based on that theory, that time and time again, courts back them up.

Another way of looking at it, when you by a condo, a coop, a Townhouse, or any property in an association or "gated community", you agree to be bound by whatever rules and regulations they dole out. You have to know that going in.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I recently inherited my grandparents home and my sister was came their uninvited (never paid any bills) before my grandparents passed away. I am in the process of selling the home and the Realtor has given my sister and eviction notice, however, she refuses to leave. What are the proper steps I need to take because my sister is claiming she falls under the squatters law.

Latasha in Philadelphia PA

A: She's not a squatter- she's something else, but it doesn't matter; she still has to get a 30 day notice and be evicted in eviction court.

Dear Mr. Reno:
The HOA (Alderwood Ridge) in Lynnwood is trying to create new rules requiring me to hire property management and landscaping services to maintain my property instead of allowing me or my tenants to maintain the premises. Can they do that?


A: Yes you can! The association is supposedly a "democratically" elected body. If the owners don't like what the board is doing, you can vote them out. )Like that would ever happen!) But it's based on that theory, that time and time again, courts back them up.

Another way of looking at it, when you by a condo, a coop, a Townhouse, or any property in an association or "gated community", you agree to be bound by whatever rules and regulations they dole out. You have to know that going in.


Published 2015-08-25

Dear Mr. Reno:
I need your expert answer.
What is the difference between dismissed with prejudice or dismissed with out prejudice?
thank you in advance.

Carol P.

A: Dismissed with prejudice means you can't refile, you're done.

Dismissed without prejudice means, fix what you did wrong and try again.


Published 2015-08-21

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am in Washington state with 2 homes on the property. I rent out the second house, and the renters are month to month. They refused to pay rent this month and said in a text message to me, "we're not paying rent so go ahead and evict us." A 3 day pay or vacate was handed to them, that was a week ago and they won't leave. The court said get a lawyer but I don't have the money for one. What can I do? We rely on rent to pay our bills right now.

Keith, WA

A: If you can't hire a lawyer, then you have to do the eviction yourself. Get down to the courthouse and ask for the forms.

I'm not saying it's easy. You probably wont get it right the first try, but it can be done. I see it every day.


Published 2015-08-18

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a house that I have a rent to own contract on. The tenant pays on time but he has violated every other term of the contract including tearing buildings down and other damages. Do I have grounds to evict him and sell to someone else who has the funds to pay for the house. The rent to own contract was actually done with his mom however he has been living there and making the payment so we do not have a contract with him technically.

Jared, Tennessee.

A: What do you mean he's "tearing buildings down"? What does that mean?

You probably are beyond realm of eviction court. You have a purchase agreement that includes a lease- but is more than a lease. You need a real estate lawyer to find a loophole to cancel the contract.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a tenant that has not paid the water bill (she is required in the lease to). She plays games saying “i’ll be right over to pay it” and never shows up. What can I do regarding late fees and/or evictions if she does not pay?
Thank you,

Terri, NY

A: Evictions for utilities is tough. Even if you say its "added rent" in the lease, some judges just wont evict for a water bill or a late charge.

1. You can either put the water in the tenants name, or
2. Tell the tenants that unless their water bills are paid promptly, their lease will not be renewed when it expires. Maybe that will get their attention.


Published 2015-08-17

Dear Mr. Reno:
My tenant moved out 2nd week of July because he did not want the unit to be shown while he and his partner were still living there. They left quite a bit of work for me to clean up. His deposit amounted to $840 and I am refunding him $171+ I sent him the Security Deposit Settlement refund receipt and release form by certified mail and he said on his email to me early this week that he would mail it back to me.
I have not heard from him since.

I have 14 days from the end of the tenancy to send him the balance of his security deposit.

If he does not send me back the release form and did not meet me at the unit on July 31st to go through the apartment and sign the move out checklist, should I wait until he signs the release form before sending him the balance of $171?

Paulette, Washington

A: It's $171. Send it!


Published 2015-08-14

Dear Mr. Reno:
I own a 4 unit rental building in the state of Pennsylvania. One of my tenants recently told me that the house next door (which has two apartment rentals) had bed bugs. I told my tenant to make sure she did not invite the "neighbors" into her apartment or into the building. On a visit to my rental I saw her bringing two children and an adult from her apartment (people who lived next door who live in the active bed bug building) and they got into a car and left. When I questioned her about this she stated, "the mother did not come into my apartment, just the kids." Last week she went to the beach and I told her I was going to have the apartments checked. When it was inspected bed bugs were found in only her apartment. I sent her a text stating she did have bed bugs...and she text me back, "Get rid of the bugs pls, I will pay u on payday." The house next door was treated last week. I had my 4 apartments inspected and hers is the only one that needs treated at a cost of $2500.00. I feel she was willfully negligent by bringing these people into my building, and very cavalier in her disregard for my other tenants....specifically after I asked her not to bring them into my building. Is there any thing I can do to recoup any of the cost from her?

Pam, PA

A: It will only cost you $20 to find out. It's a small claims case. You could try, but it;s a tough one. They'll say it wasn't their fault. It's up to you to prove. You may need your expert in court too, so that's an expense you may not get back. (so much for only $20). It's a gamble.


Published 2015-08-12

Dear Mr. Reno:
I own my home. The house next to me and the 3rd house next to me are rental properties. Both are owned by the same landlord. The tenants in both houses are all related to or friends with each other. The tenants have harassed me ever since they moved in in December 2014.

First they had a friend come weedeat their yard a few days after Christmas. This friend came a good 4-5 feet over the property line and cut a 5 year old fig tree to the ground. He killed part of it because the tree had not yet gone dormant for the winter. The tree is now only half the size it used to be.

Then ever since last April I have had to clean up my yard every time before I can mow the grass because the tenants next to me constantly empty the garbage out of their half-dozen or so cars.

The tenants at both houses spend every Friday and Saturday night in the street at all hours of the morning and the noise makes it difficult to sleep.

Between the two houses the tenants now have 2 pit bulls that they allow to roam free. These dogs are constantly in my yard meaning I have to clean up after them too- on top of being afraid to go out my front door because I never know when I am going to be confronted by them. I am in heart failure and have debilitating arthritis. My mother has lupus. We both have drug-resistant hypertension. Neither of us could evade these dogs or defend ourselves against them if we had to.

Yesterday (August 7, 2015) one of these dogs was standing on the hood of my car. I went to the landlord’s place of business the same day and complained. And less than one hour ago (9:30pm August 8, 2015) I had to call the police because these tenants were throwing eggs at my home.

Is there anything I can do under Florida law to hold the landlord personally liable for what his tenants do?
Thank you,

Jon Arnett

A: Oh my God! You got but problems there Jon. If the police and the Town Ordinance Department wont help you, you're s--t out of luck.

I would look into moving. You can pick your friends, but- not your neighbor's tenants.

Dear Mr. Reno:
This month, I did not receive rent for August so I called tenants and she said she already mailed her rent. She text me the picture of three (3) receipts of MoneyGram (money orders purchased receipts only) - not actual pictures of money orders. Also sent me the picture of receipt from grocery store's of payment. Rent was $1050 but receipts were for $1150 payment. Rent is not received yet. On August 7th, I gave her 3 day notice to pay or quit. State is California. She called me and said I have all proof and I will fight. Can you please let me know if I am right giving 3 day notice? Can I proceed further if she does not pay within 3 days or what I should do in this case or should have done?
Thank you, Sam


A: So now we're paying our rent with photos of money?

You're on the right track Sam. Next stop Eviction Court. Don't stop until you have the green in your hand.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have a tenant in section 8, that is constantly paying her rent portion late. She pays whenever she feels like, not paying the late fee. What can I do about her?

Harry M.

A: I'm all for section 8, but note you're not getting the cream of the cream there Harry. At least they're paying.


Published 2015-08-10

Dear Mr. Reno:
My question is as a landlord who won a “owner occupancy eviction” case. Once I take occupancy of the apartment is it legal for me to have a roommate in the apartment with me or do I have to occupy the entire apartment? Thank you.


A: As long as you're occupying as your sole residence, take the roommate.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I took in a boarder (she wrote the word SHARE in the memo portion of the check) for a trial month into a room in my house with kitchen privileges..
I wrote that if I felt this was not a good fit she would agree to leave with a 7 day notice and no courts, no police.. She signed in agreement and moved in on June 4..
I told her I wanted her gone by the end of the month on June 10 based on certain of her behaviors.
She led me to believe she was going but on June 26 when I showed her room to someone else she went off like a roman candle.
She said she would sue me for harassment, discrimination and assault and take me for everything I'm worth and she said my agreement and the rules she also agreed to are garbage, not worth a thing and she intends to stay her for many many months and never pay me a cent.
She called police who sided with her that it is her apartment. (It is a ROOM in my house.)
I then hired an attorney who didn't get my signed forms until July 6 so he sent her a 30 day notice that he said comes to a head on August 31.
In the meantime she claimed and called police and postal inspectors that I am stealing her mail. I think it is to pretend she didn't get the 30 day notice.
She went into me full body blow and claimed I did that to her.
She then hit me in my kidney when my back was turned and said I hit her first.
She called cops several more times saying that I was harassing her.
She went to legal aid and said I was disturbing things in her room and she is a renter and they told her to put a lock on her door.
She called in a locksmith. I told him as homeowner I don't want it.
She called police and the same one who said it was her apartment came and told the locksmith to go ahead.
She is in a room where my second exit door is.
She had been told by me that that exit has to be kept unimpeded. I told the cop she can't lock the door because of that exit if nothing else.v He said many places only have one door and that is nonsense.
When she was first coming in I told her if she did I would be checking that everything was ok in her room and she agreed to it verbally. I have a text message from her thanking me for closing her window one day. Actually, I had to close it for a full 5 weeks.
I recorded events on the day she got the lock.
She came over to me and slammed the cellphone camera out of my hand and smashed the screen after saying that it was fine if I recorded her. When she walked over to me and stood in front of me she said get the camera out of my face, you are harassing me.
but she had walked over to me.
all of this is on the recording.
I had to remove 2 plastic cigarette lighters that she had laying on 3 matchbooks whose covers had been torn off. this was all on the windowsill that gets the midday summer sun, next to a curtain. This was dangerous.
I smelled gas one day and came down and aired out the house. Then she came into the kitchen to document that I had turned off the utilities (apparently the stove gas jet had not caught the flame and she just left it on .) If I had not come down to air out the place and she had relit the stove, we could have been blown up. She said, as she lit the stove, to document that I had turned utilities off but she guesses I have turned them back on since this time the stove lit. My lawyer says it can take over 6 months to get her out if she keeps postponing court hearings.
Isn't there a way to do it sooner based on her recorded attack on my cellphone in my 73 year old hand, and her dangerous actions?
Is there a way to get the door unlocked? Show a document about boarders to the cop or something?
I keep asking my lawyer and his secretary these things through email and am not getting response.
Do you have a better idea?

Mount Vernon Landlord, NY

A: Oh my God! How did you find this nut case?

You landlords renting rooms in your home to total strangers- this is what can happen. Now you're stuck with this lunatic until 8/31/15- maybe longer- but you have to let the process work itself through. No, I'm sorry, I don't have a "better idea". You hired a lawyer, let him do his job.


Published 2015-08-05

Dear Mr. Reno:
Lease: I have a Fixed Term Lease for 3 months that Expired on 7/31/2015
I sent the tenant a notice to quit and not renew on 7/13/2015 (Notice Below). I know that I am required to give her 30 days’ notice, which would not be until 8/13/15. The tenant told me that she could legally stay and did not move her things out or return my keys until 8/1/2015 at 10:45PM. She also told me that she was not paying for the month of August, despite her staying an additional day and preventing me from renting the room to anyone else. She also failed to pay the late fee for July’s rent.

In addition, when taking some of her belonging out of my condo on 7/31/2015, she left every light on in my condo and left the door completely unlocked for the entire night and following day. I have documentation in a text message from her actually admitting leaving the lights on, but no proof of the door.

Can I take her to court for the full months’ rent for August (or at least the extra day she stayed), since she did not leave at the expiration of her fixed term lease( 7/31/15), even though I sent her my notice to quit?
Can I take her to court for failure to pay the late fee ($22.50)?

I didn’t make her pay a security deposit (lesson well learned) and I waived all other late fees (to be nice because I felt bad) and she only paid $450 a month total and was late every single month, but now I am in a bad position and am out a roommate for an entire month. She took advantage of me and put me in harm…. Had someone been in my home when returning to an unlocked place and/or stole my belongings, I don’t know what I would have done. Thank you,
Great full Single Mom,

Christina, Maryland (Anne Arundel County)

A: Well Mom, there's good news and bad news: The good news is you are technically correct. The tenant is liable for the whole month, even if only there one day.

Bad news is, I've had trouble getting small claims judges to enforce this. Maybe you have to be a landlord to understand. They just don't care. Some do, most don't. You'll get your late fee and probably just one day's rent.

Dear Mr. Reno:
Hi there. My name is Jeanne and I own a duplex (two separate units on one parcel) in San Diego, CA. The rear unit is over a shared carport that also has shared coin laundry, a water heater that serves the laundry and the rear unit, and a storage unit. The gas and electric for the carport/laundry is billed to the rear tenant. I pay water for all.She has lived there since March 2011 and I have never increased her rent.

She contacted me today to say that she didn't know she had been "subsidizing" the shared gas and electric for the carport lighting and laundry, and that her SDG&E bill has gone way up in recent months, and she contacted them and they said her hot water usage is much of the bill. She says it must be the front unit tenants using hot water for laundry because nothing else has changed. If this is the case, I doubt it would increase her bill significantly (she says her bill averages $65/month for a 1BR, 600-sf unit). She has implied that she wants payment for the expenses incurred from the shared utility. I explained that I set the rent for that unit (which is considerably below market) to account for the additional expense of the gas and electric used for the carport and laundry.
What should I do going forward to resolve this and eliminate any problems going forward? Thank you.

Jeanne, San Diego, CA

A: You've got tenants sharing gas and/or electric bills, you pay 1/3, you pay 2/3- no wait- you've got more kids, I'll pay 1/4- ok now someone got an extra A/C, so pay more, and yada, yada, yada- you're gonna have disputes.

Now in NY we've had legislation- no shared meter- period. You want the tenants to pay elec, they need separate meters. And the landlords who violate this are getting their butts sued off. The legislature decided that if you try to apportion it- no matter how hard you try to be fair- someone always thinks they're getting screwed (pardon my french) and they are right.

Solution: Unless you've got separate meters, pay it yourself and raise their rent so its included. Otherwise, you're going to continue to have these problems.


Published 2015-08-04

Dear Mr. Reno:
I took tenants that owe rent to court and won a default judgement, then at the garnishment hearing tenant did not show, Now I'm to hire the sheriff to have the tenant arrested , called an attachment. What is an attachment? He's to list his assets ? Than what?? Thanks Michael Thomas

Michael Thomas, AR

A: You need to get the name and address of his job so you can garnish him.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am a landlord in Palatine, IL, Cook County. I have a lease which was in effect from August 1, 2014 through July 31, 2015. My lease clearly states termination on July 31, 2015 unless there is a written and signed agreement to continue or if I willingly accept rental money for additional time which has not happened in either case so I don't understand why a 30 day notice would be needed to evict?

There was only one tenant named on the lease with a reference that his two daughters both around 20 years old would be living there also. My tenant moved out of the property a little while back which I was not aware of and left his two daughters there, in addition his ex wife and her husband/boyfriend moved in along with another child who is high school age and their two dogs and cat.

I was never paid July's rent and obviously everyone is still there which is why I'm emailing you. I served the ex wife the 5 day notice of termination yesterday due to non payment of July rent. I get the feeling she's been down this road before and she has that attitude of knowing what her rights are. To make matters worse I believe they are dealing drugs from my home, I don't know how to prove it but from information I've gathered from my neighbors it sure seems to point to that.

I'm sorry one more question, am I obligated to give 24 hour notice to enter premises? My lease does not state that, only refers to any reasonable times and reasons.
Thank you!

Toni, Cook County, IL

A: I hate to be the one to tell you this- but- until you evict these people, you're really not supposed to be in there. You have to go to court. If you could just take possession, I'd be out of business.

Dear Mr. Reno:
My husband is a landlord and he has a tenant who has been living in the same unit for more than 2 years. She said that she thinks she has bad bugs and wants my husband to pay the exterminator.

Since she was probably the one who brought these bugs in, who is responsible to pay for the exterminator, according to Maryland law?
Thank you,

Denise , MD

A: It depends on the unit. If there are other units connected, you best get it going or you'll have major disasters on the horizon.


Published 2015-08-03

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am a landlord of a rental property in Downers Grove, Illinois. My lease agreement did not state how many days should landlord return security deposit to tenant, my tenants want their security deposit back on the day they return possession.
Will I violate any law if insist to return in 30 days?
Many thanks,

Phyllis, IL

A: Most states give you 30. Some 14. These people seem in frenzy, do it in 14.

Here is a list that may help: Avoid lawsuits and comply with state security deposit return laws. Security Deposit Return Time Chart State by State

Dear Mr. Reno:
This question may be different than the usual issue. How do get a bank and/or servicer evict a bad tenant from a house in foreclosure?

We are neighbors to a two-family house that is in foreclosure. One of the tenants in the house is creating safety problems to the neighbors. The Nassau County Police department has responded to several calls regarding disturbances and alleged gun use. The tenant is boarding and breeding pits bulls and the tenant and their friends are confrontational to all neighbors.

We have contacted the Mortgagee (US Bank) and Servicer (BSI Financial) but have been told that they cannot take any action against the tenant (see attached).

Do you have any advise on how to handle the situation? Can we sue the bank and/or the servicer to force them to evict the bad tenant?
Your advise will be greatly appreciated.

Long Beach, NY

A: Not a chance, neighbor. The bank has no control over tenants. If its any consolation, after the foreclosure sale, the bank will evict the whole bunch, owners, tenants, squatters, whomever.

Until then, if the police wont help you, you're out of luck.

Dear Mr. Reno:

A: You can't control bad behavior, but a notice like this will get their attention:


Based upon the refusal of your guests to respect the rules of this facility, this is a formal notice that your lease WILL NOT BE RENEWED upon it's expiration. Please make arrangements to move out at that time.

Feel free to contact the management if you would like to discuss this.

non renewal Notice of Lease Non- Renewal

Dear Mr. Reno:
My LLC owns a two family house on a residential street in the Bronx, NY, and I am renting the second floor unit. I may rent to a couple who has a six year old child from a previous marriage who will visit on alternating weekends. Am I obligated to place window guards on the windows? NYC law is not clear when I researched it on the web, so I would appreciate your help.
Thank you,

Antoinette M., New York

A: Try the NYC Dept of Health and Mental Hygiene. See attached. attached.


Published 2015-07-30

Dear Mr. Reno:
My previous tenant moved out and I deducted $125 from her security deposit for my time cleaning plus supplies. I sent a detailed email stating that, with pictures. She responded in a very hostile manner, demanding the return of the money. She cited cases of successful tenant law suits against landlords, berated my condo, ordered me to cease contacting her, and said that I was harassing her. She informed me she was going to file for 3x the $125 in small claims court, and cited emotional distress as well.

I am stunned anyone would go to these lengths and actually file a suit over $125. What are the chances of her success in this, and in your experience, is this just bullying to get her way or would the court take this seriously? Thank you.

Linda K, California

A: I can't believe it either, but she will win because you can't bill for your own time.


Published 2015-07-29

Dear Mr. Reno:
How do you evict a tenant's son after filing to evict the tenant?

Also, how do you retrieve 3 months rent and late fees from a tenant who has moved out of town?

Velma C., Illinois

A: What went wrong here? You were supposed to evict them all together. Now you have to evict the son as a holdover. Sounds like you may have goofed.

As to the second question, you have to start a small claims action in the town they moved to.

Dear Mr. Reno:
Can I have a tenant's guests removed/arrested for trespassing if they refuse to leave the pool?

I manage an apartment building and we have a tenant who's extended family visits often and they continually want to use the pool. After many times of the unruly guests violating the pools rules ( no diving,etc.) I finally sent a letter (9/6/14) telling them that we were no longer allowing their guests to use the pool. Now they are challenging the letter/enforcement saying it's unjust. What else can I do to enforce the rules?

Jeff Sharp

A: You can't control bad behavior, but a notice like this will get their attention.


Based upon the refusal of your guests to respect the rules of this facility, this is a formal notice that your lease WILL NOT BE RENEWED upon it's expiration. Please make arrangements to move out at this time.

Feel free to contact the management if you would like to discuss this.


Published 2015-07-28

Dear Mr. Reno:
My houses are rented mostly to single individuals sharing big apartments. It is convenient for both tenants and me to have separated leases for every tenant with percent of utilities payment (for gas, electricity, water) specified.

I understand that this is not quite standard approach for rental. Can I expect any troubles from this method of rental?

Alex, MA

A: I see two problems. First, you're sharing an electrical meter. Some places don't allow that. Second, what you've there is a basically a boarding home. Some places don't allow that ether.

You should call or visit the local building department. Without giving your name or address- just your town, ask them if that's allowed.


Published 2015-07-27

Dear Mr. Reno:
Asking this question for a friend. My friend whom lives upstate NY, her brother owns a condo in Texas who has it rented out. He passed away in February. The sister wants to sell the property but tenant does not want to vacate the property. Would the tenant be able to stay as long as the lease has not expired, or does she really need to get an attorney involved being that her brother left everything to his mother because he was not married or had kids. His mom is an elderly women and so he was in the works of changing that to his sister but landed in the hospital and passed away shortly after.

Concerned friend in NY

A: As far as I know the lease stands, in most places anyway. The estate becomes the landlord- but the lease must be honored. If its any consolation, the rent must be paid. If the tenant doesn't pay, the executor can evict for non-payment. Does that help?

Dear Mr. Reno:
my daughter moved back home and she lived in california and she wasnt in a lease no more and i cosigned for the apt at the time and the landlord wanted her to have a piece of paper stating that she wasnt no longer living there but i lived in tennessee when i cosigned for the apt and has told her that she was getting a deposit and now she has been evicted and charging her 2100 but not getting the deposit back and the deposit was 750 so was wanting to know what can we do thank you she did that

Tracy S, tennessee

A: Say what? Sounds like the girl didn't pay her rent. You say she got evicted. Didn't say why. You cosigned- you're on the hook too. What else can I say?


Published 2015-07-24

Dear Mr. Reno:
On June 15 a major pipe had burst in my two unit rental. I had a plumber fix the issue within three days however along the way he discovered a MOLD issue. I immediately contacted a remediation company who came and advised the tenants that he would need them to vacate for two days in order for them to complete the repairs.
I arranged a 4 star hotel stay for them however when they arrived there to check in the hotel required a credit card or a $50.00 deposit for damage and incidentals.  They walked out indicating that they did not have either. I advised them of my position which was that I paid for the arrangements however I was not putting a credit card or the deposit required. They stated that they were not putting a dime out of their pocket. So for three weeks I could not get them to vacate so the work was not done.

On July 5th I approached them again permitting them to borrow the money from the rent that they still have not paid and they refused to do that either. In the meantime they contacted all the authorities in the city possible.

  An Inspector went out and all three of us discussed them vacating the apartment that day for two more days and it was agreed.  I contacted them later that day and asked them if they were prepared to check in and did they have the deposit required. They lied and try to tell me that they Inspector stated that I had to put it up which the Inspector indicated to me that this was not my obligation and that they had to do it. I mentioned my offer to borrow the money from the unpaid rent which he replied that I was doing more than required.  They would not vacate at all. The Inspector then indicating to me to just follow my Attorneys advice. I then received a warning to complete the work within ten days or face large fines.

  The tenants told me that they were never leaving until I had them physically removed. I filed eviction proceedings but that process takes 6 to 8 weeks. No doubt I feel like I am being extorted from with these fines. I also feel that this was these tenants plan once the Insurance Adjuster completed his inspection.   In the mean while my property is getting further destroyed by not taking care of the mold immediately. The are placing my insurance coverage at risk due to the Insurance requiring that the damage be remedied immediately to prevent it from getting worse as well as limiting their liability. This tenants are also making the tenants above them live under hazardous conditions.  I have so much at risk it gets me sick especially when these tenants were making such unreasonable demands thinking that I would deliver. I tried to make my own complaint to the city on them however they were not that interested in doing that. My big concern is also that is the state of New Jersey gets involved they are ruthless with their inspections and fines. Six years ago they fined me $5k for missing an appointment that I never knew about. I appealed it and lost. They eventually collected 100% plus interest three years later when I refinanced. 

  What do you suggest I do in this matter and the fastest way to do it.
  Thank you in advance.

L. Killmer

A: When you get to Court, with any luck, cooler heads will prevail and you'll reschedule the mold treatment pursuant to a Stipulation of Settlement. It's a good thing you filed because you and these tenants can't see eye to eye on anything. You need a third party, like an eviction judge, to talk sense into everyone and resolve this mess.

It;s a shame. All over $50.00.


Published 2015-07-17

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am a landlord.
One of my tenants broke her lease by moving out 4 months early. She did give me a 30 day notice in writing. I am not giving her deposit back because she broke her lease. She says that since she gave me a 30 day notice that I have to. Do I have to give the deposit back?
Thank You,

Shannon E.

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 deducting for lost rent, you're on thin ice.

Dear Mr. Reno:
After just 3 months a new tenant told me she was relocated to Turkey and she is moving out. I have a one year lease and just painted and put new carpet and appliances before she moved in. What can I do if she is moving to a different country?

Richard Lanzilotta

A: You can wave good bye.

But seriously, after you re-rent- then you can sue for lost rent and damages if you want, but how will you serve them? Also, even if you get a judgment, how would you enforce it if they're in Turkey? Will you seize their camels? (Can I say that?)


Published 2015-07-15

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am a dissabled school teacher who stupidly rented ( i live in home) to a criminal who has destroyed house and influenced other young tenant to also not pay rent send nonthreatening texts etc.
The younger has a good paying job the criminal has drug money hidden. i am broke.. began to pay lawyer ready to evict. we are ready to proceed but i dont have the money.. I can borrow a bit but not all and dont qualify for waiver for filing fees because i get too much from state teacher dissability.. half goes out to medical expenses. one is threatening to have lawyer sue for???

Is there anything he can sue for? should i focus on his eviction first? how hard is it to get his wages attached for no rent refusing to pay 2 1/2 months utilities? does that happen in original eviction case? he has no eviction case. what kind of other suit does he think he could have? Am i legally obligated to keep his deposit in separate account or can i use it to evict him?

Sandra P., Santa Cruz, CA

A: You're putting the cart before the house. Get these dirt bags out, both of them! Evict them for no-pay. Then you'll re-rent and have your income producing. Until then, you can worry about what you can sue them for, which will probably a waste of time and money anyway.

Dear Mr. Reno:
Once the remnant has been evicted and gone from residence for 55 days what are the laws/ rights for property they may have left? Especially if the house was so trashed and nasty that the cleaning crew (which had to be hired) threw it all away?

Neece N., South Carolina

A: Keep it; throw it away; sell it- it's abandoned (why don't you go the extra 5 days to make it an even 60 days?)

Dear Mr. Reno:
A tenant that is 9 months behind in rent and had agreed to move out - slipped and fell on a wet laundry room floor. Her claim is that I (owner) did not unplug a floor drain and that’s why the leaking water heater flooded and she fell -hurting her back and her head. Can I try to get additional insurance before her attorney contacts me?

She had a pre-existing back injury which is why she couldn’t work and got way behind.

Nervous in MN

A: No, no, no. You can't get insurance after the accident. But her pre-existing condition will be a defense used by your carrier so, does that make you feel better?

Dear Mr. Reno:
I'm confident that my tenants are good tenants such that I could take down the doors to the upstairs and downstairs and have a shared living arrangement at least I could claim that it is a shared living arrangement with the people upstairs.

This is in response to the Town of Huntington's threat to get a warrant and search my house for illegal tenants. I've looked into this in NY state law and there is a precedent for it for older people who don't feel secure by themselves living alone.

I'm 60 and am looking forward to my retirement from diesel school bus mechanics which has been rough on my back. 62 and I'm out. I'll find something lighter to do but right now the Town is making a lot of people's lives miserable including me.

Do you have anywhere for me to look as far as the law upon this subject? Before I'm done I may become an expert on this subject, not that I want to.

Bob, LI, NY

A: I would try New York State Jurisprudence under "ordinance", "multiple dwelling", "shared living space"


Published 2015-07-14

Dear Mr. Reno:
In 2013 a husband and wife signed an article of agreement to purchase home within one year….property has a 2 BR unit above detached garage which they allowed man’s brother to move into…’s brother brought in his niece--man’s daughter----brother left, niece stayed, with pit bull dog we told her she COULD NOT have…..she has active warrants for her arrest----she has NO lease with anyone----we believe she is a squatter, but someone told us that now that we have given her dad and stepmom 30 days to move, we can’t get her out any sooner----dog has already done damage to apt.------she can’t even pay her own fines, stepmom idiot is doing it for her----is there any help for us??? Thank you so much!!!!

PA Landlord

A: I had a similar case last week. Are you ready for a shocker? Bro is still in possession. You thought he left, but he didn't. He took in a border. In NY they call her an "under" tenant or a "sub" tenant. I don't know what they call her in PA., but she's not a squatter. Why? Because she entered possession with the permission of someone lawfully in possession. She didn't crawl through a window like a hobo.

Also, since his undertenant is still there, he is still quasi (which means "kinda") still in possession.

Long story short: Serve 30 day notice on her and him at the premises (even though he left.)


Published 2015-07-10

Dear Mr. Reno:
I live in the state of Kansas.
My late fee clause states there is a $10 late fee charged per day after the 3rd of the month. I received no rent payment for the entire last month of the lease. I intend to file in small claims court to obtain the last months rent. Can I also file to collect 26 days of late fees totaling $260 ?

Greg, KS

A: Same answer. Some courts will limit you- knock you down to five maybe 10 per cent of monthly rent. It depends on the judge.

Dear Mr. Reno:
Hi, I’m a Landlord. one of my tenant just came back to ask me for her deposit after one and half years. I remembered that I gave her deposit back by cash. should I worry about this case?

A: The statute of limitations (in NY) is 6 years. That's how long they would have to start a small claims case.

As for the case, its a "he said, she said". Could go either way. Technically speaking, the burden of proof is on you to prove it. Very weird though, that they would wait a year. Judge may take that info into account when deciding. Offer half?

State Statute of Limitations

Dear Mr. Reno:
I'm going to have a sheriff sale on a tenant for back rent , and I was wondering what can I expect from it . how far will the sheriff sale go ?

Don B.

A: They usually only sell big things like a car, a motorcycle (maybe), boat, quad. Did the tenants have anything like that, otherwise it will probably be a bust.


Published 2015-07-09

Dear Mr. Reno:
Our property management company was supposed to have filed a small claims case in our behalf against tenants who broke their lease and left with unpaid rent and damages. In following up, this company is now telling us that they are allowed to file only two small claims filings a year. Does this seem correct to you? Your advice would be appreciated.
Thank you,

Phyllis A.,

A: That make no sense. It must be a company policy- not a State Law. I don't think there could be such a law. Maybe you misunderstood or they mean something else. Somethings being "lost in transaction" here.


Published 2015-07-08

Dear Mr. Reno:
How do you get Adult children out of your home when you have asked them to leave and given them a written eviction notice?

Ann K., Florida

A: Big controversy. Take a look at my decision in Sporazic which is on the LPA website or you can go to

Dear Mr. Reno:
We advertised an apartment as a one person, one bedroom, no pets apartment. A women called looking for an apartment for her and her husband and said they a dog. She confides in us, that she has a mental impairment that limits her ability to concentrate, relate to others and care for herself. Turns out she has a letter from her doctor that states her need for a service/emotional support dog. We had other applications and gave it to a single girl.

Now, we get a formal complaint of discrimination from the PA Human Relations Commission and we have to go to a fact finding conference for a this complaint…not sure what to do?

Chad S., PA

A: Get a lawyer. You did nothing wrong- but with these people, they presume you are a viscous hater & a bigot. You need a pro to put your best foot forward and squash this thingy before it gets out of hand.
It's a dog eat dog world out there!

Dear Mr. Reno:
Our current tenants have a 12 month lease, which ends on August 1st. They gave 60 days notice as required, and it was mentioned that they were trying to purchase a home. Today we received a call from our tenants neighbors, and though they complained about several other issues, my main concern was when the neighbor said to me the tenants had completely moved out already. For two weeks now I have been providing 24 hours notice to our tenants since it is required by our lease to provide notice to the tenants. However, my husband and I are trying to find new renters before August 1st, and both are self employed with very busy schedules. Since the tenants no longer reside on our property and all of their furniture is gone from the premises, are we still obligated to provide 24 hours notice to the current tenant?

For the past two months (June and July) the current tenants have been late with their rent. As stated above, their lease ends August 1st. They have been late with their rent numerous times, but it was when they first moved in and it was due to a miscommunication so we let it go. Last month we had three very close family members pass in a matter of a three week time frame, and approaching the renters for a $50 late fee at the time was not of importance. Since they have been late for a second time now, is it okay to deduct $100 from their Security deposit for late fees? I have the checks/envelopes for documentation purposes to prove when the checks arrived to the mailing address, and will include a letter to the tenants explaining the reason for holding back $100 of their Security (and copies of the checks/envelopes).
Thank you, A Fatell

A Fatell

A: I wouldn't worry about the 24 hr notice, that is now what we lawyer's call a "moot point" issue.

As far as security goes, I would not go there. Security is generally for damages-not late charges. Does your lease expressly authorize it? Otherwise, for a $100, I wouldn't risk it.


Published 2015-07-07

Dear Mr. Reno:
My tenants moved out Jan 31, after 28 months. After months of repairs I am ready to rent, and have the septic system pumped, as I always do every 3 years, or between tenants. The septic company informs me that there is lots of kitchen grease, cloth wipes, paper towels, tampons and items that are not allowed in the septic system. The main pipe was clogged with these items, and the tank pipe had to be snaked in addition being pumped. This system was less than 9 months old when these tenants moved in, and it was pumped prior to their move in, with no problems. The septic company has informed me that these wipes, towels, tampons etc, have greatly reduced the years on my $38,000 septic system. What should have lasted years, has now been reduced by at least 5 years due to this damage. They also did not use the provided monthly septic treatment Lenzime. I provide the treatment, they are to empty the packet into the system once a month. The unused packets (2 years worth) were left in the closet. How do I recoup the damage they have caused to the system? How do they pay for flushing items that are specific in the lease, cannot be flushed.?

Claire, Rhode Island

A: If the system had failed, and you paid out of pocket- you would have a case. Under these facts, however, you have, no chance.

you say the life of your cesspool has been reduced by 5 years. That's what we call in court "speculation". You'll never be able to prove that. Even if you could, reducing that to a dollar figure? I've never seen it.
Never heard of it. Sorry Claire.

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The Landlord Protection Agency's "Ask the Attorney" column is for informational and entertainment 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.
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