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Eviction Attorney

Q&A with John Reno, Eviction Attorney

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Recent Court Victory

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


Published 2016-10-20

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

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

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

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

Thank you again for any advice.

Judy Gail Grisham

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

Published 2016-10-14

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

Elise Gurmankin, Caldwell NJ

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

Eviction Notice - Termination of Tenancy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Margaret R., LPA Member, Virginia

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

That's all I got Maggie. Sorry.

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

Jeff Halfon, Ohio

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

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

Tracy Adams, Gilbert, Arizona

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

Published 2016-10-07

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

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

Kim/ Laurel Apts/San Antonio Texas

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

Published 2016-10-06

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

Harry Hafele from Texas

A: No good deed...

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

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

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

Lonny Burman, FL

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

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

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

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

Published 2016-10-04

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

Judy Bayog, MA

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

Published 2016-09-28

Dear Mr. Reno:
Tenant left for a few days came back my property flooded with fresh water. Cause, ď toilet was flushed and valve stuckĒ. When it first happened tenant mentioned smell, and mold right off the bat. (The tenant wasnít fully moved in yet, and nothing of theirs was ruined).

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

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

M. Howell, Ohio

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

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

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

Karen V. in Indiana

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

Published 2016-09-21

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

Staci F., NY

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

Published 2016-09-20

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

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

R. Wayne, Eastpoint, FL

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

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

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

Published 2016-09-19

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for your attention.

Carlos A. Gonzalez, Florida

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

Related Security Deposit forms :

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

Security Deposit Settlement Statement

Property Condition Inspection Report

Security Settlement Challenge Crusher

Published 2016-09-16

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


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

Published 2016-09-15

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

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

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

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

Carol Eckermann, landlord, Syracuse, NY

A: All bad news Carol:

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

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

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

Thanks for your time.

Chuck Johnson, Burke, VA

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

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

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

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

I look forward to your reply.
Best Regards,

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

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

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

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

So it remains to be seen what will happen.

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

Lala Shapona

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

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

William Cayton, VA

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

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

Time's a wastin'!

Published 2016-09-14

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

Can you please advise?

Rose, CA

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

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

Published 2016-09-13

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

Diane and Kirk N., LPA Members, KS

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

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

Published 2016-09-12

Dear Mr. Reno:
Bottom line is that my renters have had issues from the beginning and I extended their security deposit due date until the second month of their lease (9/1/16). As of this writing, not only have they not paid the security deposit, but they have not paid their entire months rent for September.

I sent an email on 9/4 explaining that they would need to pay the entire months rent by 9/5 (as noted in the lease) to avoid a late fee. I then went on to point out that it's unacceptable to not pay the security deposit. I left it with giving them one last chance to come up with a plan that they can abide by and have since heard nothing.
I really don't want to evict as I would have a hard time maintaining two mortgages for long, but the lack of communication since my last email is cause or concern.
Should I bite the bullet and get a local attorney involved? Sincerely,

Rich Nathan, Aurora, IL

A: Attention Landlords: PLEASE STOP giving possession without security. (Making the tenant agree to pay it later turns logic on its head.) It's like saying "I need security in case you breach because I don't trust you. But don't worry, you can pay it later, because I trust you". See what I mean?

Now the rent is another matter. You can't get a whole year's rent in advance. So notify the tenant if the rent is not paid within 3 days, eviction proceedings will need to be commenced.

Published 2016-09-07

Dear Mr. Reno:
We have an apartment in Queens, NYC
We just rented to three occupants for Sept 1 rental. The tenants have neither paid the September rent, but moreover we have a no smoking clause written in their lease. Yesterday, they called us because of an issue with the electronic entry lock and upon arrival to execute repair, there was a strong smell of marijuana and one of the occupants was obviously high. The are three days into this rental agreement and are already in violation of non - payment of rent and the non- smoking clause. Can I terminate this lease without having to go through the courts considering the lease has only been in affect for three days?

Grace, NY

A: In a perfect world, maybe. But with a lease, probably not. You need to review your lease thoroughly. Is there a provision for termination due to lease violation?

By the way, how did they move in Sept. 1 without paying the September rent? Your bad?

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am the landlord of a newer home which I rent to a young divorced woman with two children. Sheís been there now 10 months and she wants to move in her new boyfriend.
I received a application from him and he was just released from prison for committing a felony. Am I allowed to deny him tenancy to move in with her? Thanks.

Bob, G, PA

A: I don't do screenings Bob. I'm in the "kicking them out" department. I don't know about who gets let in. But offhand, my first instinct is the Fair Housing Act. Race, color, creed, handicap, sex, age, religion, sexual orientation in some places, these are the "suspect classifications" that violate the fair housing act. Nothing in there about prison. Legally, you don't have to RENT to him.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I sent tenants the lease to sign and return to me. Never received it. Tenants claimed they signed and would send me a copy. Never received it. Now they want to move out this month. Advised that they are now on a month to month and owe more than the rent from the previous year.
The new lease stated they would owe for two (2) months plus the current rent if they broke the lease. What legal recourse do I have?
Thank you.

Yvette G., Florida

A: The lease expired! They haven't broken it. It ended.

(But you could hold them liable for October unless they notified you prior to 9/1/16.)

Published 2016-09-03

Dear Mr. Reno:
My mom is the owner, of a rent stabilized, six apartment railroad style building here in NYC. We live in this building as well. Iím involved because, my mom doesnít speak English, so iím the interpreter. I will try my best to make this as short as possible. This is probably clichť, but my mom is super nice, to the point where i feel like she's too nice, she treats everyone in our building like family, she wants everyone to live happily and comfortably. Because of her kind nature, i feel like sheís taken advantage of. We have an apartment rented out to two roommates, two friendís, a male (Mr. W) and female (Ms. B), they are both on the lease, so co-tenants, they are in their young 20s, theyíve lived here for about 4 years, since they were still college students. Everyone has always been amicable, until about two years ago, when the roommates seemed to drift apart, as they have relayed to me. They seemed to have argued a lot, to the point where they even decided pay their rent separately. The problems started here, Mr. W would pay on time every month, while Ms.B , would constantly be late, like 10 days late, her excuse was, she didnít have her checkbook or her bank is not in NY so she canít get a temporary check, she refused to pay cash, so we have no choice but to accept her check. My mom, being the nice lady she is, she would be ok with it, because she tries to understand her. This was until we saw the condition of their apartment, when we went to fix their door lock. It was a mess, garbage dump site like, itís impossible to explain in a few words. I donít understand how anyone can live in such condition. It turns out, Mr. W hasnít been able to use the common area, the kitchen, and living room, for the past two years, because Ms.B has taken over it with all her belongings, her art materials, clothing thrown everywhere. I felt extremely sorry to Mr.W, i wish i wouldíve been told sooner. Every year, we make inspections in each apartment to make sure everything is in good shape. Otherwise, the only other time we would even step foot into their apartment, is if we are contacted because something is not working. I have spoken to them of the messy and unsanitary conditions of their apartment, and Ms.B has promised to tidy up, but also claiming, that, this is not untidy or messy to her. These past few months, they seem to be having more arguments, to the point where they woke up the whole building at 3AM one time, Mr.W is more of a quiet person, so he didnít wish to argue with her, and so he stayed inside his room, while Ms.B was super aggressive, banging on his door, screaming and yelling at him. My parents and I, we were away for that weekend, so i knew of the incident from one of my terrified tenant, right below their unit, when she called me at 3:30am. After i got off the phone, i immediately, tried to get in contact with them, but no one picked up. I gave my terrified tenant, a text, to check up on her and the situation and she told me, they stopped upstairs, thereís no noise no more. I couldnít do much any that point, so i had to wait till morning. The first thing i did the next morning was speak to them, Mr.W told me his side of the story and Ms.B as well, it was over a very small matter, where someone forgot to take the trash out from the bathroom. But, what i spoke to them of was, why did you have to distrub everyone at 3am, banging so hard, why couldnít you wait till morning to resolve the matter. Ms.B denied her distrubance to everyone, she claims, she wasnít that loud, even though everyone else in the building says otherwise. At this point, they were about 5 months away from their lease expiration. I sat them both down, and i conveyed what my mom had said, i explained, no matter what problems you have with each other, please resolve it calmly, please donít cause disturbance's to others. Another main point i relayed to them was, please tidy up the apartment, itís unhealthy and unsanitary for either of you. I relayed that, if your conflicts are just not resolvable, i feel like itís hard for you to live together like this, itís not healthy for either, emotionally or mentally. They both understood my point and agreed to attempt for a resolution. But, unfortunately, this wasnít resolved, Ms.B continued with her aggressive matters (but she didnít do so in the hallways no more, she stayed in the apartment) and messy state in the apartment. But their neighbor could not take it anymore and asked for an early termination of their lease, we have no choice but to do so, because it was unfair to them, to have to be disturbed or frightened by Ms.B. So, with just a month before Mr.W and Ms.Bís lease expiration, they both approached me and said, they canít work out their problems, they want to move. They asked for a bit more time, so my mom being so kind, said ok. Their lease expired July 2016, so they asked to be out by Sept 1st 2016. For this long long email, that iím beyond sorry but thankful for you reading. Itís August 31st today, Mr.W has moved out almost everything already. However, Ms.B decided to file multiple complaints on August 29th to HPD, i was notified on the same day through HPDís phone call. Right away, i wished to address the complaints, i contacted both, by phone, Ms.B did not answer, but Mr.W did, he was surprised and confused. The complaints were filed about, no hot water, and broken fridge. Mr. W told me, there's no such thing, he just took a shower last night and this morning and their was plenty of hot water, and there was nothing wrong with the fridge. Still, i asked if it was possible for us to please view it. He agreed and allow us access to his apartment, with his presence. We checked the complaints and found none of the complaints were real. The hot water was perfectly fine, as well as the fridge. I did not understand why she didnít inform us first of what was wrong, and decided to file complaints first. We are known in the building to get repairs done right away, every tenant knows whatever problem, big or small, they can contact us 24/7. Mr. W told me, itís nonsense, she has hardly been home for a good month, sheís making these complaints up. He was able to contact HPD and explain the situation. It was then relayed to me, that as long as everything is ok, i shouldínt have to worry, but no matter what, thereís no way i can stop her complaints. Itís currently 11pm, Wed August 31st, I havenít been able to reach Ms.B at all since we checked the complaints. I had even notified her everything is working fine after we responded to the complaints. I can conclude she wonít be leaving or moving by Sept 1st, as she had promised. In this position, we really donít have any clue what to do. We have spoken to lawyers, but they all told us, nothing can be done. My mom has been nothing but kind owner, i just donít know what to do, her health isnít the best, but iím helpless. Iím sorry to have you read this super long letter, but i'm truly grateful for your time and help. Have a wonderful day!


Anny, Brooklyn, NY

A: Well aside from you having this terrible tenant, I don't see a big problem here. Her lease is up, hopefully, she's packing as we speak.

If not, you can either commence a "holdover" proceeding in the housing court, or evict for non-payment if she doesn't pay the rent.

I don't get why the lawyer says "nothing can be done." Nothing can be done about what? The complaints are all bogus- you'll have to deal with them in the normal manner. You can't prevent bogus complaints. All you can do is defend yourself.

Also, I don't believe the courts will consider your eviction "retaliatory." They even notified you in July they want out. So cheer up, Anny.

Dear Mr. Reno:
I am purchasing a commercial building (1940 house in downtown business district). It closes escrow on 9/12/16. tenant has a 90 day vacate agreement with seller(his landlord) which is 30 days after close of escrow. He was given notice 7/15/16. Tenant is on month to month and the vacate document is NOT part of the purchase agreement. I just learned of it and he strongly believes he has until 10/15/16?

Keith, California

A: The general rule is that you "stand in the shoes" of the prior owner with respect to any leases or other arrangements between the landlord and the tenant. He should sign an assignment at the closing assigning the lease to you. I don't know why you didn't know about this situation, but now you do.

Are you trying to get out of this deal?

Published 2016-08-31

Dear Mr. Reno:
I have made a mistake of keeping $3200 security deposit together with last month rent in the same savings account in my name. Reading Massachusetts Law I think I am in violation. There is estimated and document damages about $2000.00 to the unit Ė tenant moving out on August 31st I am thinking of refunding the deposit in full and billing for damages, and if I donít get payment then suing for damages. Does refunding a deposit work against me? Has anyone done this?

Thank you,

Svetlana Trifonov, Newton, MA

A: I don't know the answer. So you will be in small claims court claiming $2000 in damages after having returned the full deposit. Obviously, the judge will ask you why you did that, and you'll say, you returned it in full because you were in technical violation of the security law. Will that hurt your case? It may.

(You might return it with a statement that you are "reserving your rights" to sue damages to the unit. That might help.)

Related forms:

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

Security Deposit Settlement Statement

Property Condition Inspection Report

Security Settlement Challenge Crusher

Published 2016-08-26

Dear Mr. Reno:
My tenant was hospitalized in July, he indicated an agency would be paying his rent payments. I have not had any communications with this "agency". His August rent was late by 10 days and $25 short. We have always had a contentious relationship, I prefer to communicate with him in writing, he insists on a conversation. He has told me that he wonít be paying his September rent, and will see me in court. His lease ends at the end of November. How do I proceed?

Thank you!

Cindy, New York

A: Well you wouldn't go to court over $25, the question is, what do we do in September? I would serve a Notice of Default on 9/2/16. Wait 10 days- then start a Non-payment eviction.

That is, unless you see signs of his vacateur. Has he started packing?

Published 2016-08-25

Dear Mr. Reno:
I manage a small hotel in Colorado. I have 17 rooms rented to a contractor for his employees.
At the start of last month, I told the site manager that there would be no refund for rooms that were vacated early. We agreed on this, however it was verbal. Although, I got 1/2 the rent on the 15th, he has not paid the remainder of the monthly rent agreement and is complaining that this is not fair.
Well, no other hotels in the area give a refund if the tenant leaves early. What recourse do I have if he doesnít pay?
Thank you,

Jean Flaherty,

A: "Sue the bastards"

Published 2016-08-24

Dear Mr. Reno:
We have tenants of 4 years in our rental house. The wife keeps the house immaculately clean but is always complaining about little cosmetic things that she wants us to fix. Her husband recently called us on the phone and said his wife THINKS there is mold in her bathroom. We went over there an hour later and the baseboard molding outside the shower had a small amount of dry rot and a small hole. The grout on the floor under the molding was cracking. I saw no indication of mold and didnít smell mold. the wall and floor was dry, not damp. I said we would have a mold inspector come out and test. The tenant said we should just have the molding and drywall replaced and painted and that should take care of the problem. If there is mold in the wall then replacing the molding & painting will not take care of mold. If I have an inspection & mold test it will cost me $350. If there is no mold present then I am out that money. Or can I have the tenant pay for it if no mold is present? Should I have the testing done and consider the $350 the cost of being a landlord?

Should I ask the tenant to put his request in writing as required in his lease and then proceed with the testing if he states there is in fact mold?
We live in Arizona where mold is not that common.

Cindy Allison, Arizona

A: You checked it out yourself. You said no mold. So make the repair and forget about the mold.

Dear Mr. Reno:
Eviction hearing is next week for nonpayment of rent (2 months). Rent always late and history of tenant landlord cases. Will magistrate evict if children in home ages 6 and 10.
Thank you.

Vincene Smith, property in PA.

A: That wont stop the eviction. May give'em and extra couple of weeks or a month at most.

Dear Mr. Reno:
My question is about the letter that explains why security deposit is being retained.

MA law states: "In the case of such damage, the lessor shall provide to the tenant within such thirty days an itemized list of damages, sworn to by the lessor or his agent under pains and penalties of perjury, itemizing in precise detail the nature of the damage and of the repairs necessary to correct such damage, and written evidence, such as estimates, bills, invoices or receipts, indicating the actual or estimated cost thereof".

What does "sworn under pains and penalties of perjury" mean? Is there some special procedure or a specific language I need to include?

Svetlana Trifonov, Newton,MA

A: Normally, I would just say that just means it get's notarized. But 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.

LPA Landlords usually use these forms:

  • The Security Deposit Settlement Statement allows you to make valid, itemized and explained deductions from security deposits.
  • Property Condition Report

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    I have used a leasing agent to manage my rent home. They have collected money from renters, but suddenly stopped paying me.

    1.) Do the normal eviction rules apply?
    2.) Are there unique violations committed when an agent is basically spending what should be escrowed funds?


    Martin, Houston, TX

    A: 1. Yes, except (see below)

    2. What is going on here? Do we even know if the tenants are paying? If the tenants are paying but the agent is stealing the money, that's not their fault and you can't evict. You understand that, right?

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    NYS case:
    Tenant has a co-signer not living in the premises.
    Tenant breach lease and has past due rent and damages, lives in county C.
    Co-signer lives in county A.
    Going to small claims court in county C to file against tenant.court date set.
    If I recd a judgement on tenant
    Not allowed to file against co-signer in county C.
    Do I file in County A for co-signer action?
    What steps and what do I need to do?
    Thanks for your help and your post are very informative.

    Linda, NY

    A: So on small claims, you have to sue both in their respective counties. There's only one catch is the second person you sue will try to use the judgement as a defense. You can fight that, but to be safe, sue the one 1st that you can garnish.

    Published 2016-08-19

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    I have a new tenant moving in 9/1. He has a 1 year lease at his current location that has expired or is beyond the 1 year term. When he approached his landlord about moving, he was told the lease automatically renewed for another year therefore he must continue rent payments until landlord finds another tenant. And, the landlord is increasing the monthly rent from $850 to $950 for new tenant. Can landlord enforce an automatic annual term renewal?
    Thanks for any help or considerations.

    Jerry Barry, Sulphur, LA

    A: Definitely maybe.

    If the lease automatically renews, that's a problem.

    Now in New York, they outlawed those clauses. The lease automatically goes month to month.
    But in LA, I don't know. You need to ask a local.

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    After I form an LLC, will it be necessary to rewrite the leases so the name of the LLC is on them ? Or am I protected by the LLC provided the rent checks are now written out to the LLC, instead of me personally ?

    Thank You -

    Tim F. , Schenectady, NY

    A: That's an easy one Tim. You do an assignment from the present landlord (you, I assume) to the LLC. You notify the tenant that you have assigned your rights to the rent to the LLC. When the lease expires, you amend it to change the name of the landlord to the LLC.

    There you go.

    Published 2016-08-11

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    I have tenants would be turning keys and move out by 08/14/16. Tenantsí last month rent was used and the landlord is holding one month of security deposit . However, he is not responding by email nor by call or text message for the time to turn keys. In this case, what should the landlord do? Can the landlord still go to the property on the 14th and change the lock? We have the proof of email that she stated to move out by 08/14/16 and their request to use the last month.

    Thanks you & Best regards,


    A: If they move out like they say, and you want to change the locks, that's fine. But if you go there on 8/15/16 and all their stuff is still there, you're on shaky ground, even with the e-mail. You can't move in until they're out. Got it?

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    Is it possible to change the date that rent is late from the 10th to the 5th prior to the expiration of the lease. Our lease says that rent is due on the 1st and late on the 10th. We would like to change the 10th to the 5th.
    Many Thanks,

    Debra King, Alabama

    A: You can always amend a lease. But an amendment has to be signed by both parties. You can't do it unilaterally mid-term.

    Will the tenants sign up for that?

    Published 2016-08-08

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    I have a tenant that sent me notice that he is moving out September 6th and to apply his security deposit as last months rent.
    Unfortunately I can not find the lease that I had signed with them and do not know if I have a leg to stand on without having the lease. I know that I gave them a copy, but can not find mine.
    So I have any recourse with this situation.

    Janet McKain

    A: Number one, don't worry about the lease. Your only options are to wait and see or evict now for non-payment.
    Its a tough call Janet. It depends on the tenant. Can you trust him? Or will he stab you in the back and make you evict anyway, except a month later.
    Pick your poison.

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    If a tenant is required to provide a 30 day notice in writing to vacate and does so but then vacates the apartment before the end of the 30 day time period, does the tenant forfeit their right to receive their security deposit back??

    Christine, Illinois

    A: Well that's the first time a landlord complained that the tenant left too soon, but 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 "forfeit" here, you're on thin ice.

    (Check out The LPA Lease)

    Published 2016-08-04

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    We have a warrant if eviction, stating tenant has to be out by July 31,2016 or she owes us $5100. Can she get an extension?

    Sebrina B., Long Island, Suffolk County

    A: Always.

    Published 2016-07-29

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    I have a 5 unit multi and recently had to hire an exterminator for a bed bug infestation. A tenant in the building wrote me a letter when I first purchased property a year ago admitting that it was because of his actions the bed bug infestation occurred. The tenant shared with me that because the washer and dryer were broken he was forced to do laundry at a local laundromat. The tenant stated that the use of public laundromat was the cause of the bed bug infestation in his apartment and subsequently spread to other units. He attempted to self remedy his unit with no success and ultimately reached out to me for help, way after the fact. I hired a professional exterminator at a cost of $4,200 to treat and then retreat building and subsequent inspection to verify.

    So, my question, do I have the right to bill my tenant for this expense? Via his own admission it was his actions that caused this bed bug concern. Your thoughts and perspective are greatly appreciated.

    Richard Schultz Ė Cleveland Ohio

    A: A lot depends on what your lease says. If the lease makes the tenants responsible for their own pest control, then you have a leg to stand on. Otherwise, probably not.

    Just because the tenant caused it, that doesn't necessary mean its his fault. The infestation wasn't intentional, obviously, and from what you say, doesn't even show a reckless disregard. It just happened.

    Stuff happens.

    Published 2016-07-22

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    This is rather involved but I'll try to condense as much as possible.
    I have a permitted "rec room" for my autistic son and later added a tub/shower in hopes someday he'd like to stay back there on his own.

    The woman who was to become his legal guardian when I died was about to be homeless so I allowed her to stay in the back rec room. She knew full well it wasn't legal and agreed to pay a stipend.† When she began taking advantage of my good nature I stopped allowing her usage of my washer/dryer, as they kept breaking and she offered no contribution to the repairs, and I changed the locks to my home so she had no access to my house. †I †then wrote a rental agreement from May, 2015 to May 2016 which she broke in Sept., 2015, the last month she gave me any money for anything.† She then reported to the Bldg. & Safety the illegal tub/shower so I had to comply and have it removed. She became belligerent, cops were called, she doused me with a hose and threatened me, cops called again.† She filed a case with the Rent Stabilization Board but it was closed and they said no relocation fees would be awarded at this time.† However, she refuses to move. We have no conversation. The last time we spoke she said she could be out in July but I had to comply with the City and remove the tub so I could get my permit for the rec room back, which happened. †

    She now has "strange" people coming and going at all hours of the day and night, leaves the side gate open when my son is playing in the backyard, blows her marijuana smoke out the door so he has to breathe it in and I'm a senior citizen, on 24/7 oxygen and can't handle that smell or smoke. †

    I want to serve her with an eviction and have no intention of paying relocation fees, especially since she's been living rent/utility free for almost 11 months now, but I was informed the wording cannot contain monies.† Safety would be one but what else can I put on an eviction and would a judge award her relocation fees even 'tho she hasn't paid a cent for all this time? †

    I live in Los Angeles, a tenant friendly CityÖ..I'm out of money and have no clue what to do at this point.† I just know I want her OUT and as soon as possible. †

    Any suggestions?
    Thank you for your time.

    Roni Perlut

    A: Your solution is with the rental agreement. She signed it, that makes her a rent paying tenant in default.

    Forget the pot. Forget the strangers and the washer. This is a nonpayment of rent eviction. Keep it simple.(KIS) = Keep it simple.

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    Is it legally sufficient to have a guarantor sign a guarantor form only, or is it better to have them co-sign the lease agreement as well? Thank you.

    Vicki Seabrook, New York

    A: Either way gets the job done, but the lease is intended to be signed by the tenants which means the occupants.

    Published 2016-07-21

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    I live in NJ and rent the 2nd floor apartment in my home (which I occupy the 1st floor). Tenant's one year lease expired Oct 31 2015 and I let it slide into month-to-month. Upon move-in she had 2 small dogs and 2 cats along with her daughter. She gave me 60 days notice on June 1, 2016 when she paid June's rent because she was buying a home (closing was set for June 30th). On July 7th she was mostly out of the apt.but not completely until July 10th. When I asked her about July's rent on July 5th she said she wasn't planning on paying. Upon walk thru of the unit with a realtor, I was told I needed to have the carpets professionally cleaned because the unit smelled of pet urine. I have her security deposit of 1 1/2 months' rent. Am I entitled to withhold July's rent since no definitive move-out date was stated in her notice to vacate along with cost to clean the apartment?
    Thank you in advance,

    Pat Paretti, Garfield, New Jersey

    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 to deduct lost rent, you're on thin ice.

    Published 2016-07-13

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    I have a tenant in my coop who owes part of June and all of July rent. 2 days ago the hot water heater broke. I do not have the money to fix this and cover the bills without her rent. Her lease is up September 1st. I intended to let the bank foreclose on the property after her lease is up.
    Can I begin the foreclosure process now and not fix the hot water heater?
    Do I have to give her security back?
    Can I just sign off on the property?

    Kristen Dross from NY

    A: 1. No
    2. Maybe
    3. Ask the bank.

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    Quick question: if I am going to small claims court to file breach of lease and damages , do I add name of co signer to the case ? or file separately? The co signer lives in different county in NY.
    Also you represent in Westchester ? Thanks

    Lyn A., New York State

    A: Both tenants should be named, but in small claims, I don't think they'll allow it. The Court will probably tell you to sue other tenant separately in his County. :(

    Published 2016-07-12

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    I have tenants who are consistently late with rent. This month, they are not just late, but refuse to contact/talk with me at all about it.
    It's been 8 days thus far.
    I thought they had vacated property without†paying the†rent. I put a 24 hr. notice to enter property. I entered and some of their things were still there. The place was a disaster.

    † I left on the†floor inside of house by door, a three day or quit notice.
    I also told them I would deem the property 'abandoned if i didn't hear from them.

    If I don't hear from them within 3 days, what should I do?
    If it's deemed abandoned, what are my rights?

    Thanks so much for your help. †

    Sally Barrett, Eugene, Oregon

    A: I think you're okay. Sounds like they abandoned. Hold onto the junk in storage 'til the end of month. Let me know if they return.

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

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