VOLUME 2 - ISSUE 7 LEGAL UPDATE

- Scarboro testimony transcript
- The Writ of Possession
- Governor Bush’s veto of the Mold Bill
- Evicting for Housekeeping Issues

 

 

Transcript of the public comment given by Gary Scarboro, Governmental Affairs Director of the Florida Apartment Association on June 14, 2005 before the Collier County Board of County Commissioners

 

MR. SCARBORO: Five.
CHAIRMAN COYLE: :
Okay, yeah.
MR. SCARBORO:
Five. Good afternoon, I'm Gary Scarboro with the Florida Apartment Association. I'm here in cooperation with members of the Naples Area Apartment Association that covers Collier County. I've been getting calls for three or four weeks now from concerned property managers in the Naples area in Collier County about a fee that has recently been enforced. Apparently an ordinance has been around for a while, but the enforcement of the fee is new. Ordinance 2004 58 contains language that provides for the registration of rental dwelling units, including apartment homes. The ordinance does not establish the fee, but the county's fee schedule sets forth a fee. Last year some of the properties received a bill for $20 for the apartment community. This year they received a bill for $20 per unit. And as you can see, that would be a substantial difference. Just for an example, a 400 unit apartment community would now be billed about $8,000 to register as a rental dwelling area. Just in contrast, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation Division of Hotels and Restaurants also requires registration of all rental dwelling units in the State of Florida. They charge $210 per apartment community for that privilege of registering. We're in favor of something more in line with that fee. Apartments, as you may know, already pay their fair more than their fair share. As far as ad valorem taxes, apartment communities pay national studies have shown that they pay a higher proportionate share of property taxes than single family dwelling units do. We're now being asked to pay this additional fee, which is coming across to us as a tax and not a fee. We've not received any validation as to what the fee is going to go toward, what it is going to pay for. Our first thought was it was going to pay for inspections, but we've also learned this ordinance provides separately for an inspection fee. Should your property be targeted by noncompliance or at the discretion of the code enforcement office, your property will be assessed $200 per dwelling unit inspection. Apartment communities are friendly to Collier County. As you discussed earlier in some of the other developments that you considered, density is a friend to municipal governments. As you know, placing density placing people in density and using density, you can reduce the number of miles of roads, the number of miles of infrastructure, and, therefore, reduce your cost of services to the county and its residents. So apartment communities are a good neighbor and a good partner in smart growth, and we would like to encourage them, not discourage them. I've also heard mentioned here in the meeting today about affordable housing. Apartments play a key role in affordable housing by providing those levels of housing that provide balance in the community. Everyone needs a place to live from higher end to lower end on the income scale. Collier County apartment communities are professionally managed. There is an apartment association called the Naples Area Apartment Association. It's one of 13 such local affiliates of the Florida Apartment Association, and members of the apartment associations tend to be better educated, better informed, better communicated with, and, therefore, more in compliance with local laws and ordinances. We feel like we're being targeted because it's easy for a code enforcement officer to drive down the road and spot an apartment community and see 8 or $10,000 in a new impact fee. The proposed tax is too high. One of the property managers that was here this morning, he had to leave, said that he just paid $12,000 for his rental registration fee. He still doesn't know what he's going to get for the $12,000. I think I've covered most of it. The apartment communities have paid, this past year, $8.9 million in ad valorem taxes. That's down slightly from 2004 when they paid 9.1 million. There's a condominium conversion going on, as you're probably well aware of, so that number will probably continue to decline slightly as the condominium conversions continue; however, that will mean a tax windfall for the county of Collier as condominium dwelling units tend to increase in value by up to 200 percent. So we don't see this registration fee as being necessary to support any loss in ad valorem tax revenue. We would ask you today for your support in postponing the implementation of this fee. We have a June 30th deadline looming large. Many of the property managers here can attest to the fact that code enforcement officers have been to their properties putting quite a bit of pressure on them to pay the fees. Some of the property managers have paid them, some of them are holding out till June 29th to hope to have some postponement so we can discuss the issue further. We have other examples of rental registrations and inspection programs in counties such as Hillsborough, City of St. Petersburg, City of Clearwater, where they assess a dollar per unit fee of $25, perhaps, and then $1.50 per unit for every unit over four. We'd be much more in favor of something along those lines.
CHAIRMAN COYLE:
Okay. Thank you very much, Gary.
MR. SCARBORO:
Yes, sir. If I could, just one other minute. We made a DVD for you this morning with all 16 of our speakers. It has their thoughts on it. We'd like to provide that to you after the meeting.
CHAIRMAN COYLE:
Okay. Thank you.
MR. SCARBORO:
Yes, sir.
CHAIRMAN COYLE:
We have two commissioners who want to speak. Commissioner Henning?
COMMISSIONER HENNING:
To the speaker that just spoke, I just want to recognize, or hope that you recognize that you contradicted yourself with the valuable aspect of apartments in a community dealing with affordability and trip generation, or less trips, but then you said they're all converting into condos.
MR. SCARBORO:
Not all of them. Quite a few of them. COMMISSIONER HENNING: Yeah.
MR. SCARBORO:
It's a market driven phenomenon. But that's not a contradiction, it's just a market driven occurrence that COMMISSIONER HENNING: Is one of your members here today representing Heritage Green in Golden Gate?
MR. SCARBORO:
No.
COMMISSIONER HENNING:
Okay. I think that's why we have an ordinance, an example.
MR. SCARBORO:
There are definitely violations out there among rental dwelling units and among homeowner dwelling units. Code enforcement is one issue, but placing an exorbitant registration fee on apartments is the issue that we're addressing.
CHAIRMAN COYLE:
Commissioner Halas?
COMMISSIONER HALAS:
Yeah. I think that was one of the reasons when this was brought before the Board of County Commissioners, some of us were able to come up with some good examples of rental units and why this was put on, because there are some people out there who, for no other better term, are slumlords and cause a real situation, and so, therefore, it may put an added burden on some of the other people who are in compliance with everything. But the only way to control this because I think we also have the ability now to go into those areas, into the homes, and inspect to find out, we're having a lot of problems in some areas of this county where there's 10 to 15 people in an 800 square foot house. So we're trying to eliminate those problems.
MR. SCARBORO:
Absolutely, and those are definitely problems that should be dealt with through minimum housing standards and through code enforcement, but not through the implementation of an excessive fee.
COMMISSIONER HALAS:
Maybe staff could give some insight into what's going on out here, get a bigger picture.
MS. ARNOLD:
For the record, Michelle Arnold, code enforcement director. Mr. Scarboro's correct that there is a $30 fee per unit for the initial, and it's $20 per unit every year thereafter; however, he's incorrect with respect to the enforcement of that ordinance. This ordinance has been in place since 1997, and we have been enforcing it since then. It's there are apartment complexes that have failed to register since then, and we are now finding these apartment complexes that have not registered for those years up until now. So that is a part of the reason why, you know, they're not knowledgeable about what the codes are indicating. With respect to the cost, you all did amend your ordinance last year to assess a per unit cost for the registration, and that was because of an equity issue where we had apartment complexes that were registering the same fee that individuals with duplexes or single homes and those types of things, which was an equity issue. So that's why the board actually decided to modify the ordinance to do it per unit. We have looked at the cost. The cost equates to about two fifty per month per unit. For renewal it's $1.67 per unit per month. And as the commission has noted, this is something that we find is necessary and is fair. We have looked at other communities, and I did talk to someone else in Florida Association that I've indicated that we would gladly sit down and look at the reasonableness of the fee, which we believe at this time, based on the comparison that we've looked at previously before adopting the modification and we're willing to sit down with the association and see whether or not there's something that could be suggested to the board. But at this point there is an ordinance in place, there is a resolution that establishes a fee, and we have no choice but to continue to implement it. It would be a fairness issue as well if we decide now to allow some apartment complexes not to pay when others have already paid, so
CHAIRMAN COYLE:
Are you I'm sorry. Some other commissioners are waiting to speak. But have we assessed any penalties from any of the apartments for years when they did not pay?
MS. ARNOLD:
No, we did not.
CHAIRMAN COYLE:
They're not you're not requiring that they get current; you're just asking they pay the current year's registration, right?
MS. ARNOLD:
Exactly.
CHAIRMAN COYLE:
So they've actually gotten a big break over the past years
MS. ARNOLD:
Absolutely.
CHAIRMAN COYLE:
if they hadn't registered before. Commissioner Fiala?
COMMISSIONER FIALA:
Yes. I think that one of the things that's helped us and I'm glad that you're identifying those that hadn't paid, because we're finding more and more apartments that we need to take a look at. And I'm not saying that any of you guys have the apartments that I'm going to mention. But we've had a lot of unlivable conditions that people are living in. Code enforcement and the sheriff's office have just made a few sweeps down Bayshore, for instance. And they've found flophouses that are divided into 10 mattress rooms with a curtain between each one. They've found filthy conditions with holes in floors and no running water and no electricity, and I think this is important because we have to identify these.We have some larger complexes that the one that just provides all of the filth to one of the roads. We're always in there trying to clean up the stuff. And it's a nice looking apartment complex, hundreds of apartments. And we have another one where they have to actually station a sheriff's deputy because there's so much crime coming out of there. It's a tremendous problem that we're dealing with, and over and over again. I'm glad that they're registering. I'm sorry that the fee is that, but at only $1.67 a month, I think that it can be handled. It's more important for you who have good places to know that other places now are being identified and we can clean up some of this this these horrible conditions that other people have to live in.
MR. SCARBORO:
So this is an enforcement tax for the code development?
COMMISSIONER FIALA:
No, it just allows us to identify where they are, that's what it's all about, right?
COMMISSIONER HENNING:
It's a fee, sir.
MR. SCARBORO:
Well, like I said, the state is able to do that for $210 per property.
COMMISSIONER FIALA:
That's wonderful.
COMMISSIONER HENNING:
They're not doing a good job in Collier County.
MS. ARNOLD:
I just wanted to also mention that this, in no means, is something targeting the apartment complexes. This applies to all rentals, regardless of whether or not they're in apartment complexes or if they're in single family homes or in duplexes, quadruplexes, and the like.
CHAIRMAN COYLE:
Commissioner Coletta?
COMMISSIONER COLETTA:
Yes. I'm concerned a little bit about some of the fairness of this. I agree with you, there has to be some way that we can interject ourselves when people live in sprawl or some landlords are not the perfect example of people that maintain property in a meaningful way and are just looking to grab a profit and run. Obviously the people that are here today care and they care enough. I'm curious about a couple of things. One, you're kind of rewarded if you can avoid the process for as long as possible because you don't have to pay any penalties for not belonging. In other words, until the day comes that you catch up with the particular apartment complex that hasn't registered, that particular day you walk in the door, it's from that day forward that they're responsible to pay. So there's no incentive for the honest person to come forward and to do the right thing. You know, when they're I mean, I'm not saying you know, the system is always going to have flaws of some kind in it. We're never going to come up with a perfect system. If we did, we'd all be out of a job. But my concern is, what are we getting for this $1.67, what, a week, was it?
MS. ARNOLD:
A month.
COMMISSIONER COLETTA:
Okay. Is there an inspection performed every single year for this fee?
MS. ARNOLD:
No. Mr. Scarboro also mentioned that there is an inspection fee, and there is in the event that we do independent properties. And if we're going to relate to apartment complexes, there is a $200 inspection fee. It's not applicable to all of the 300 or 400 apartment complexes. There are a sampling of the inspection that is performed, and it's done every three years.
MR. SCARBORO:
It's up to five percent of the community.
COMMISSIONER COLETTA:
So in other words, there's already a fee in there that covers the cost of inspection. This money that we're collecting, exactly what's it earmarked for? I mean, because there's got to be a cause and effect. What's the relationship for the reason for collecting the money and how do we use it?
MS. ARNOLD:
Well, I mean, I don't use
COMMISSIONER COLETTA:
The general revenue, is it?
MS. ARNOLD:
I don't the money that we collect in our development, just like our fines and our fees, any of the fees go into the general funds. We don't use that. It doesn't go back into my budget.
COMMISSIONER COLETTA:
And I appreciate the honest answer on that. So this has nothing to do with the apartments themselves and the condition they're in. It's a revenue tax that we put on them, more or less?
MS. ARNOLD:
It's a registration fee, that's what it is.
COMMISSIONER COLETTA:
Well, I mean, that's the name of it.
MR. SCHMITT:
It pays for services.
MS. ARNOLD:
Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKERS:
What service? What service?
COMMISSIONER COLETTA:
I'm sorry, if I may. I'm going to tell you what my thoughts are on it.
MS. ARNOLD:
Well, let me just address what they're saying. There is staff time that is associated with the processing, the collection and everything of those fees. But when we establish a cost, it's not a for profit venture. It's something that we determine, there is a service that needs to be provided for this registration, and that's what we determined at that time.
COMMISSIONER COLETTA:
Okay. Is there some way maybe in the future we might be able to get consideration? And I agree with you that if all of a sudden we tried to withdraw this fee and say, okay, no one from this point forward has to pay for it, then you already have people that paid and they'd have to get reimbursed, and it becomes problematic, I agree with you. But is there some way, maybe in the future, we might be able to come up with something that would set it up so that the inspections could take place when you have an apartment complex that's kept immaculate and it has no problems, where maybe they can go for three years between inspections.
MS. ARNOLD:
That's the way it's set up.
COMMISSIONER COLETTA:
Oh, it is?
MS. ARNOLD:
Yes.
MR. SCARBORO:
Well, we've heard otherwise, but
COMMISSIONER COLETTA:
Okay. I think I've taken enough of this. I still have concerns. I don't know how to really address their concerns. I think this is more of a general revenue Item, which isn't necessarily evil. We pick up general revenue on everything we do out there. We're already covering our inspections with the inspection fee. So, you know, it's kind of hard to justify the cost of this to cover the cost of registration when we already are collecting what was that fee for inspection, 200 some dollars?
MS. ARNOLD:
Two hundred dollars per unit that we inspect, yes.
COMMISSIONER COLETTA:
That we inspect. So we inspect them every three years or five years, and you charge then, or is it every year?
MR. ARNOLD:
Third year, every third year. Unless there is violations that are found repeatedly, then we would inspect them every year.
COMMISSIONER COLETTA:
Then they would pay that additional fee for the new inspection every year?
MS. ARNOLD:
Yes.
COMMISSIONER COLETTA:
Okay. That's fair. That's what I was looking for. I just I do have a problem with this fee though, but for the moment, I don't know how I'm going to address it.
CHAIRMAN COYLE:
Okay. What's the sense of the commission? What do you want to do?
COMMISSIONER HENNING:
Leave it alone.
CHAIRMAN COYLE:
Commissioner Halas?
COMMISSIONER HALAS:
Leave it alone.
CHAIRMAN COYLE:
Commissioner Fiala?
COMMISSIONER FIALA:
Leave it alone.
CHAIRMAN COYLE:
Leave it alone. The majority of the commission says leave it alone. Thank you very much.
MR. SCARBORO:
Thank you.
CHAIRMAN COYLE:
Sorry.
MR. SCARBORO:
It's okay.

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THE WRIT OF POSSESSION -- WHAT IT IS, WHAT IT DOES AND WHY YOU SHOULD EXECUTE ONE by Harry Anthony Heist, Attorney at Law

 

What is a Writ of Possession?-- The Writ of Possession, hereinafter “Writ”, is an order by the court telling the sheriff to remove all persons from the premises. Once the judge signs the Final Judgment of Eviction, your attorney submits the Writ to the Clerk of Court and the clerk “issues” the Writ. Once issued, the Writ is taken to the Sheriff’s department civil division, a fee of $70.00 (most counties) is paid, and the sheriff’s clerk in the civil division processes the Writ into their computer system and it is given to a sheriff’s deputy to “serve”. The deputy then takes the Writ, along with many others he or she has to serve that day, and either hands it to the tenant if the tenant answers the door or tapes it to the door if no one is home or the tenant fails to answer the door. NOTE: This article assumes that you have been granted a Final Judgment of Eviction and have instructed your attorney to get a Writ

What it does-- The Writ will give the tenant a date and time to get out of the premises, usually 24-48 hours from the day that the Writ is served. The Writ gives the deputy the authority to remove persons from a rental dwelling. The deputy will usually give the property manager a phone call advising the property manager that the Writ has been served and the date and time of execution.

Why does the deputy call the property manager? – The deputy calls the property manager for two reasons. One is to let the property manager know the date and time to meet the deputy and the other is to see if the property manager wants or “needs” the deputy to meet the property manager at the premises.

The big trick – While you may think that the deputy is just being helpful when he or she asks you if the tenant is still there and if it is necessary to come back out to execute the Writ, be careful of the question, the deputy may really be trying to avoid having to execute the Writ. The deputy has a lot to do each day and a canceled writ means more time is freed up for those other tasks. Don’t be tempted to cancel the Writ! Once the sheriff’s department receives your Writ, the $70.00 check is processed. You have paid for the complete service so why not get the complete service? You should always follow through and have the deputy execute the Writ even if you think that the tenant has vacated the premises.

Suppose the tenant does not move after being served? – The sheriff comes out to the property at the designated date and time and “Executes” the Writ, at which time the tenant is told (or forced, if necessary) to vacate the premises. If the tenant refuses to vacate, the sheriff will physically remove the tenant, and the tenant may be subject to arrest if he or she fails to vacate.

Procedure when executing the Writ – When the Writ is executed, the property manager needs to be prepared to change the locks on the premises, secure the premises, and, remove all items left in the premises to the property line. The property manager needs to be ready to complete the job and have helpers if necessary to remove the items from the premises. Florida law states that the property can be removed at the time the Writ is executed or at any time thereafter. We highly recommend the former. Get EVERYTHING out of the unit immediately and to the property line. Holding the property until a later time is just asking for trouble.

What can happen if you do not immediately remove the property? The tenant may attempt to break in later to get the property causing significant damage, or, the tenant can allege you made some sort of deal with them to hold the property until they were able to retrieve the property.

The belligerent or threatening tenant – Florida law allows you to DEMAND that the deputy stands by while you are removing the property or securing the premises. If you feel threatened in any way or think that the tenant may suddenly appear while you are removing the items to the curb, ask the deputy to stay. By law, the sheriff’s department can charge you but your safety is worth it!

THE MOST COMMON WRIT MISTAKES

Failure to have the deputy execute the Writ – When you tell the deputy that the tenant has vacated, the deputy will write on the paperwork “unexecuted per landlord”. This means that your eviction was never completed, you are in danger of the tenant coming back and moving right back in, and you are in danger of being held responsible for the tenant’s personal property, or, worse yet, what the tenant “claims” was the personal property left in the rental unit.

Failure to meet the deputy when the Writ is executed – If you don’t show up to meet the deputy, the Writ is “unexecuted”. The deputy will not do anything without you being present. Your attorney will have to file a motion for an Alias Writ and this can cost you time.

Meeting the deputy and making an agreement with the tenant – Property managers often feel sorry for the tenant and agree with the tenant and the deputy to hold off on the Writ for a day, or for a fixed number of hours. The deputy will usually go along with this and accommodate the wishes of the parties if the property manager agrees. The LAST thing you should be doing is trying to accommodate a tenant at this stage of the eviction. We have seen the tenant run out and file bankruptcy and derail the entire process. We have also seen cases where the property manager tells the tenant that they can come back the next day to retrieve the personal belongings. The tenant fails to show up and the property manager disposes of all the property. The tenant then shows up and claims that an agreement or extension was made with someone in your office by phone. This can have disastrous and unintended consequences and now you can end up in court in a “he said” “she said” situation.

Failure to have sufficient staff to remove the property from the unit - There is really no good excuse for this. You know when the Writ will be executed and need to be prepared for dealing with a full unit or an empty unit.

Failure to remove the property from the premises - If the eviction is completed and the tenants have been evicted from the premises, Florida law does not require you to treat the property left behind in any special way and you can and should dispose of all abandoned property when executing the Writ. You must complete the eviction and meet the deputy at the premises to be allowed to remove the items to the property line without any liability. Too many times, we see property managers shortchanging themselves by failing to completely execute the Writ when there is abandoned property. This is quite unfortunate as the execution process directly relates to the abandoned property. You will have no liability to the tenant or any occupants, known or unknown, for the disposition of the abandoned property if you execute the Writ. It is rare that the tenant will return and try to claim that they left items behind, but there always it this possibility. There is also the possibility that the unknown person appears, claiming items. Since the completion of the eviction relates directly to the disposition of the abandoned property, it is imperative that you execute the writ if you wish to be safe.

 

Now, some final words on the Writ

Do you always need to follow through and execute the Writ? 1. ALL tenants have vacated, given you the keys and the premises are completely empty – Probably no Writ is necessary 2. ONE tenant has given you the keys, the premises are completely empty – Executing the Writ may be a good idea 3. Property is left in the premises – Execute the Writ 4. You have had no contact with the tenant – Execute the Writ

Conclusion: The money you spend on the Writ is nothing compared to the liability and problems you may have for not executing the Writ. If a WRIT OF POSSESSION HAS BEEN SERVED, EXECUTE IT.

 

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GOVERNOR JEB BUSH’S VETO OF THE MOLD BILL

 

June 22, 2005

 

Ms. Glenda E. Hood Secretary of State Department of State R.A. Gray Building 500 South Bronough Street Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0250

 

 

Dear Secretary Hood:

 

By the authority vested in me as Governor of Florida, under the provisions of Article III, Section 8, of the Constitution of Florida, I do hereby withhold my approval of and transmit to you with my objections, House Bill 315, enacted during the 107th Session of the Legislature of Florida since statehood in 1845, during the Regular Session of 2005, and entitled:

An act relating to building assessment and remediation...

This bill seeks to provide public protection against the possibility of fraudulent practices in the unregulated fields of home inspection, mold assessment and mold remediation. It provides education requirements and requires liability insurance for home inspectors, mold assessors and mold remediators, prohibits certain acts which could lead to fraudulent practices, and provides penalties for those acts.

I support efforts to protect the public from unscrupulous business practices and I believe providing strict standards for home inspectors, mold assessors and mold remediators is warranted.

However, I am concerned that this bill will have unintended consequences, including putting some legitimate and responsible employees out of business. The bill grandfathers some home inspectors but does not provide for the grandfathering of responsible and experienced mold assessors and remediators. This will likely put employees and companies that cannot complete the bill's education and training requirements by January 1, 2006 out of business.

Additionally, the bill is somewhat ambiguous and does not provide clear guidance to the industry in some areas. For example, the bill does not establish clear educational and examination requirements. While this bill requires training, it contains no specificity with regard to what kinds of curriculum and/or standards are necessary for home inspectors, mold assessors or mold remediators. Further, the bill appears to arbitrarily require high school and college degrees while presenting no clear reason why.

Finally, the bill requires mold assessors to maintain a mold-specific insurance policy and in-contracting mold remediators to maintain a general liability insurance policy with a mold insurance pollution rider, both in an amount of not less than $1 million. There is some question as the whether these policies will be available by the required date of October 1, 2005. There is a further concern that this will have the unintended effect of allowing insurers to deny payments for mold claims under a homeowner policy if work on a home has been performed by a mold assessor or remediator.

Because I agree with the bill's sponsors that additional consumer protection is warranted in these fields, I have directed Secretary Diane Carr of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation to work with various stakeholders during the interim to develop proposed legislation. I encourage legislators to participate in this process and hope that they will work with the department to find a solution that protects the public while providing a constructive business climate in which legitimate and responsible Florida businesses can compete.

For the reasons enunciated, I withhold my support for House Bill 315, and do hereby veto the same

Sincerely,

Jeb Bush (Back to Top)

 

 

EVICTING FOR HOUSEKEEPING ISSUESby Cathy L. Lucrezi, Attorney at Law

 

To evict a tenant for housekeeping issues, the condition of the unit must be BAD. That means it must be MORE THAN messy, full of stuff, or cluttered. A sink full of dirty dishes does not constitute a violation that rises to the level of a noncompliance with the lease or Florida law.

To terminate a tenancy for poor housekeeping issues, you first need to serve a proper Seven Day Notice of Non Compliance with Opportunity to Cure. A Seven Day Notice to Terminate might follow if you are able to prove that the housekeeping issues listed on the cure notice were not rectified and that the housekeeping is indeed a serious problem that affects the health and safety of others, or that it is damaging the property.

 

SOME PROOF THAT IS NECESSARY PRIOR TO TERMINATING THE TENANT FOR HOUSEKEEPING REASONS

1. Photos or video of the condition of the unit. The photos or video should show the condition of the place as of the time the cure notice was served AND as of the time the termination notice was served.

2. Employees or other residents (witnesses)of the apartment community who will testify in court about how they are affected by the poor housekeeping. Perhaps a neighbor has been infested with roaches from the tenant’s apartment. Or, the noxious fumes from the pet waste are bothering a neighbor.

3. If available, a copy of an inspection report from code enforcement or Section 8. If the agencies have not done an inspection, do not request one.

Common problems that arise in these cases include:

a. The tenant got the cure notice and cured some, but not all, of the problems. This means it may be best to serve another cure notice for the problems that persisted.

b. The place is a mess, but it is not a lease violation. A landlord’s perception of what is sanitary and what is not, may be very different than what is a genuine lease violation.

c.The landlord is using “poor housekeeping” as a reason for eviction where the real problem is something else. If the housekeeping issue is a pre-text for some other motivation, the case will surely lose.

d. The tenant has a disability that affects the person’s ability to maintain the apartment. In this situation, you may need to make a reasonable accommodation for the tenant. One reasonable accommodation (there may be others) is to permit more than the seven days to cure the noncompliance.

If you request a notice from our office, be sure to include lots of detail about the condition of the apartment. It is NOT sufficient to merely allege “poor housekeeping” or “place is dirty”. Give us the low-down, dirty (pun intended) details so that we can draft a notice that paints a picture for a judge. The more detail, the better.

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Law Offices of Heist, Weisse & Wolk, P.A.
Phone: 1-800-253-8428 Fax: 1-800-367-9038

Serving Florida's Property Managers with main office in Fort Myers Beach. Available by appointment in Orlando and Clearwater


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