Volume 12 - Issue 1 LEGAL UPDATE
- Smoke Detectors – The New 2015 Law
- The Curable Noncompliance - Part 3
- Ensuring The Resident Received Notice
- Nan Cavarretta Obituary
- Properly Executing Corporate Leases and Guaranty Agreements
Smoke Detectors – The New 2015 Law
by Harry Heist, Attorney at Law
After a number of years of unsuccessful bills introduced in the Florida Legislature, finally a bill addressing smoke detector/alarms has passed into law. Florida Statute Section 553.883 governs what property managers or owners must do under certain situations with regards to smoke detector/alarms. The law is simple, it is not burdensome, and the sooner property managers begin to comply, even if not necessarily right away, the safer the residents will be, and the less liability exposure that will be placed on property managers and owners. The law applies to battery powered smoke detector/alarms. It does not apply to fire/smoke alarms that are electronically connected, hardwired or part of a centrally monitored alarm system, so this will not have much impact on the multi-family manager.
Prior to the law change, the property manager simply had to use an off the shelf smoke detector/alarm with a removable 9-volt battery. However, problems occurred when residents tampered with the alarm or failed to notify the property manager that the battery was dead. Residents would remove the battery if the low battery signal was going off, and statistics have shown that the majority of injuries and deaths caused by smoke and fire was due to the fact that there either was no smoke detector/alarm, or that is was simply not operational. Property managers would replace the smoke detector/alarms with the cheapest possible models available, deaths and injuries occurred, and lawsuits against property management companies were common.
The New Law
The new law is quite simple. Any time a battery powered smoke detector/alarm is replaced, if it is defective, or has exceeded the 10 years lifespan, (dates are usually on the back) the replacement must be with the type that has the 10-year, non-removable, non-replaceable battery. Presumably these batteries will last 10 years and cannot be easily tampered with by the resident once they are activated. They are a bit more expensive than the older type, but a few dollars is all it takes. Buying in bulk as well will save even more money.
The law does not require that the property manager replace a working smoke detector/alarm that is less than 10 years old with the new type. The property manager can simply replace the battery with a fresh battery, test it, and be in compliance with the law. Why take such a shortcut? Do the right thing. Replace all your battery powered smoke detector/alarms with the new 10-year smoke detector/alarms. It is simply the right thing to do. We recommend you do not wait a moment longer. Buy them in bulk and replace them all. Below is the text of the law. The law is not 100% clear and does not answer all the questions we may have now, but one thing is clear: you can and should replace all your battery powered smoke detectors/alarms now and sleep easy.
The New Law Text
Florida Statutes Section 553.883 Smoke alarms in one-family and two-family dwellings and townhomes.—One-family and two-family dwellings and townhomes undergoing a repair, or a level 1 alteration as defined in the Florida Building Code, may use smoke alarms powered by 10-year nonremovable, nonreplaceable batteries in lieu of retrofitting such dwelling with smoke alarms powered by the dwelling’s electrical system. Effective January 1, 2015, a battery-powered smoke alarm that is newly installed or replaces an existing battery-powered smoke alarm must be powered by a nonremovable, nonreplaceable battery that powers the alarm for at least 10 years. The battery requirements of this section do not apply to a fire alarm, smoke detector, smoke alarm, or ancillary component that is electronically connected as a part of a centrally monitored or supervised alarm system.
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Properly Executing Corporate Leases and Guaranty Agreements
by Brian Wolk, Attorney at Law
In most cases, property managers receive little or no training on how to deal with a prospective resident or guarantor that is a corporation. The property manager then will either just carry on business as usual, not recognizing the significance of this type of lease transaction, or the property manager will essentially make up rules on how to deal with the prospective corporate resident based on the manager’s common sense. If that happens, the property manager will complicate and jeopardize any future collection or eviction actions. It is crucial that a property manager step back, take a breath, and act in a careful and deliberate manner before executing any guarantee of lease agreement or lease with a corporate entity. Very often, a property manager with the best of intentions, and attempting to increase occupancy at the apartment community, may be blinded by excitement with the possibility of filling numerous apartment homes with a corporate resident. The property manager is an easy target in this situation. The property manager should always keep in mind that the purpose of most corporations is to turn a profit. Accordingly, there are often in-house attorneys or attorneys on retainer who are paid to fully insulate or limit the corporation from liability for any lease obligations. Thus, the property manager better be certain that the lease and guarantee agreements are properly executed, so there is clarity as to who is legally obligated to pay the rent and meet the other lease obligations. To make matters worse, there are applicants who are scam artists, who have no intention of paying rent and who may even submit fake corporate names that do not exist.
In instances when the corporate entity is signing the lease as the resident, an individual person is not responsible for the rent or any other obligation under the lease. To make this easier to understand, the corporation is treated like a person during the term of the lease and any future collection or eviction proceeding. For example, if the rent is not paid, the property manager would name the corporation as the resident being evicted, and only the corporation’s name would be listed on the eviction paperwork filed with the court.
Is there really a Corporation?
Initially, the property manager must verify that the corporation truly exists, as the full corporate name should accurately be referenced on the lease. Corporate officer information should also be verified, as the property manager also needs to confirm that the person claiming to be a corporate representative has actual authority to do so. The corporate representative with whom you deal may not be an officer, but you can require correspondence written on corporate letterhead signed by an officer that the person with whom you are dealing has the power to bind the corporation. The Florida Secretary of State maintains records concerning corporations, including corporate officer information, and it is usually fairly simple to verify this information online. The corporation may be incorporated in a different state, and the corporate information may need to be verified under that state’s secretary of state website. However, if the corporation is doing business in Florida, it should still register with the Florida Secretary of State. In some cases, we recommend that the property manager obtain the articles of incorporation. Never blindly accept the information provided to you by the corporate contact you are dealing with. It is imperative that the property manager use diligence and verify that the information provided is completely accurate.
Investigating the Corporation
If the corporate entity is bogus, then the apartment community owner’s ability to collect past due rent will be seriously jeopardized, and any eviction process can also be severely compromised, since the eviction action would be filed against an entity that does not exist. At that point, you are at the mercy of the presiding judge. Take your time, and do not let the applicant rush you.
The Inactive Corporation
Sometimes a property manager will discover that the exact name of the corporation exists in the records maintained by the Florida Secretary of State. However, it may turn out that the corporation was voluntarily dissolved or was administratively dissolved for failing to pay annual fees to the Secretary of State. The property manager must recognize that a corporate entity that is dissolved has absolutely no power to enter into lease guarantee agreements, residential leases or any other contracts.
Corporate Tenant Lease Execution Procedures
First, the corporate resident’s name that is listed on the lease must be an exact match with the name on file with the Secretary of State. This requirement has no exceptions. For example if the names do not match up by only one letter, the lease will be drafted incorrectly.
Lease Must Disclose the Actual Names of the Occupants
All properly managed apartment communities obtain criminal background checks on their residents. In truth, many corporate residences are essentially halfway houses or residential drug treatment programs that could indeed place convicted, violent criminals on the grounds of your apartment community if given the chance. When executing a lease with a corporate resident, the actual names of the occupants must be listed, or else the apartment manager will be powerless to verify if those occupants have any criminal history. Also, if the actual names of the occupants are not placed on the lease, the corporation could have a never ending parade of unsavory characters moving in and out of the apartment home, who constantly request that you provide them with keys to the unit or who cause unreasonable disturbances throughout the apartment community.
Corporate Lease Signature Block
It is imperative that the signature block on the corporate lease identify clearly the name of the corporate entity that will be listed as the resident under the lease. Also, the signature block must disclose the name of the corporate representative authorized to sign the lease on behalf of the corporation.
Properly Listing the Corporate Representative on the Lease
It is vital that the corporate representative’s name and complete title be placed on the lease when that representative signs the lease: for example: Brian Williams, as Vice-President of OYIL Corporation. In this example the corporate representative would be the vice-president. The property manager can verify this information by utilizing the Secretary of State website. The property manager must never blindly believe that the person signing the lease has legal authority to sign the lease on behalf of the corporation. Keep in mind, the corporate representative will have no individual liability and would not be listed on any eviction complaint, as that person signed the lease in a representative capacity on behalf of the corporation.
Negative Fallout from Failing to Properly List the Corporate Representative on the Lease
Under Florida Law, there is a strong presumption that if a lease is signed without the designation of the person signing in a representative capacity, then the person is signing in an individual capacity. For instance, the signature block has Beth Smith and the name of the corporate entity listed, but not Beth Smith’s corporate representative capacity or title. Negative consequence may result. Since the intent of the parties was that the individual would not be liable, a judge would probably prohibit the property manager from holding the individual, Beth Smith, liable for the lease obligations. In addition, because the apartment community drafted the lease incorrectly, the corporation could very well avoid liability for any obligations under the lease. That is truly a horrible result for your company, and your regional manager will be very upset.
Guarantee Agreements Involving Corporate Residents Must Be Properly Executed
Unless the property manager has researched the state of the finances of the corporation and determined that the corporation has a long standing history of promptly paying its bills, and the property manager believes with complete certainty that the person signing the lease has the authority to sign on behalf of the corporation, it will be safer for the property manager to have an individual sign a guarantee of lease. The person signing the guarantee would be responsible for all past due rent any other amounts owed under the lease if the corporation defaults on its obligations to the landlord. The guarantee agreement must have clear and exact written language to that effect. However, if the individual signs the guarantee of lease agreement and includes any reference to the company or corporate title, then the guarantee may be essentially worthless, because it will not be enforced against the individual. This result may occur when there is no clear language demonstrating that the person signing the guarantee of lease agreement intended to be personally liable. Also, if the property manager wishes to include the individual on the lease itself, then the signature block should state the following, for example: “Beth Smith, signing in her individual capacity”.
The Corporation as the Lease Guarantor
In many instances, the property manager due to resident selection criteria will not be able to approve an applicant unless the applicant obtains a guarantor. Very rarely, the guarantor will be a corporation. Therefore, in order to enforce the guarantee agreement against the corporation, all of the rules for proper execution which apply to the lease signing process will also apply when the corporation is guaranteeing the lease. The properly trained property manager must verify that the corporation is in existence, and the guarantee of lease agreement must list the name of the corporation exactly as it is listed with the Secretary of State, and the person signing the guarantee of lease must have the authority to do so. Likewise, the signature block must clearly list the name of the corporate representative and the corporate representative’s exact title. Call your attorney if you have questions about this process.
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Nan Cavarretta Obituary
Nan Price Cavaretta Adamson passed away peacefully on January 12, 2015 surrounded by her loving husband Don and her two sisters. Born in Pensacola, Florida on September 29,1945 she spent most of her childhood years growing up in Hendersonville, NC. Nan attended Hendersonville High School, class of 1963. She was preceded in death by her parents, Irvin Earl Price and Eleanore Elizabeth Burrows Price and sister Nancy Price. She is survived by the following loving members of her family: Don Adamson, husband; two sisters, Peggy Price-Rennie and Susan Price-Stephens; Brother, William Earl Price; Son, David Earl Carman,wife Kathy,and 2 daughters; 3 stepsons; 2 stepdaughters; a granddaughter; grandson and 1 great grandson; along with many nieces, nephews and great nieces and nephews.
Nan spent over 30 years in the apartment industry beginning as a leasing agent moving up to a Regional Manager. At the time of her death, she was with IWS as their National Territory Manager. An accomplished speaker and trainer, Nan was well known as a "Fair Housing" expert and Team Builder. Her passion was to educate, train and mentor future leaders in the multi-housing industry.
She served on the NAA Board, was Vice President of NAA's Region 9, as well as past President of the Florida (FAA), Orlando (AAGO), Space Coast (SCAA) Multi-Housing Associations. She received numerous awards, including being inducted into the prestigious Florida Apartment Association's Hall of Fame and Volunteer of the Year, multiple years. Additionally, Nan held several designations from the National Apartment Association.
The family requests donations to the charity of your choice, National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc. or Four Seasons Elizabeth House Hospice at 581 S. Allen Road, Flat Rock, NC. 28731.
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The Curable Noncompliance Part 3
by Harry Heist, Attorney at Law
This article is the third in a multi-part series examining specific curable noncompliances and how the property manager must deal with getting compliance or setting the case up for a potential future eviction action. Each noncompliance is unique; many are dealt with in a similar way, but often the proof needed to proceed with legal action if the noncompliance is not cured differs. The legal papers filed in the court for an eviction for a non-rent lease noncompliance are very similar to those filed for a nonpayment of rent case, but if the case is contested, the property manager must be prepared to prove AND win the case.
The vast majority of property managers have prepared and served a Seven-Day Notice of Noncompliance with Opportunity to Cure to a resident. Some property managers have had to file evictions when the noncompliance was not cured. Only a small fraction of property managers have had to deal with a contested case concerning a noncompliance eviction, in which the resident has fought to stay in the unit. Finally, in an even smaller percentage of those cases, the resident was represented by an attorney fighting the case, but when all these elements are present, the property manager may stand to LOSE this type of case.
ITEMS ON PATIO, LANAI OR CHAINED TO RAILINGS
PROBLEM: Resident has an accumulation of items on the lanai, or outside the front door, or has decided to use your railing as a place to chain up their bicycle, causing your property to look unkempt and violating the lease.
FORM: SEVEN-DAY NOTICE OF NONCOMPLIANCE WITH OPPORTUNITY TO CURE
WORDING: Variation #1: “You have excessive personal items on your lanai in violation of the terms of you lease agreement and/or rules and regulations.” Variation #2: “You have items outside your door in the common areas, including but not limited to a flower pot, decorations, and signs in violation of the terms of your lease and/or rules and regulations.” Variation #3: ”You have a bicycle chained and/or locked to the railing in the stairwell and/or common areas in violation of the terms of your lease and/or the rules and regulations.” (Note: Have your attorney help you with the exact wording, as this is for sample purposes only.)
RENT ACCEPTANCE: Do not accept rent after you have served your Seven-Day Notice of Noncompliance with Opportunity to Cure, unless you are certain the noncompliance has been 100% cured. Make sure the account is flagged properly to avoid accidental rent acceptance.
SELF-HELP: There is a temptation to just cut the lock off of the bicycle, remove the items from outside the door, or go to the lanai when the resident is not home and take the items away. DO NOT engage in any self-help, as you could be charged with theft or conversion. Conversion means you could have to pay the resident 3 times what the value of the items are. The value and quantity of the items you take will inflate dramatically of course when the resident finds out that you should not have done this.
PROOF ISSUES: You need to anticipate the possibility of ending up in court, so documentation is crucial. You need to prove to a judge who will not see your property in person how bad it really is or has become. Sometimes after you file the eviction, the problem is quickly cured, but you don’t want to deal at that point. Your proof may be gone by the time you end up in a court hearing, where that well-dressed, nice, older resident looks sweet and innocent.
1. Photos of the bike, items outside the door and/or lanai;
2. Videos of the above;
3. Photos and videos of clean stairwells and railings, breezeways and lanais for comparison purposes;
4. Clear lease terms;
5. Give the resident time to cure, especially if the problem has been going on for a long time, or was due to prior management not enforcing rules.
FAILURE TO HAVE UTILITIES IN RESIDENT’S NAME
PROBLEM: Resident either failed to initially put the utilities in the resident’s own name, or after move-in failed to maintain the account, resulting in the utility being disconnected or reverting into the name of the apartment community.
FORM: SEVEN-DAY NOTICE OF NONCOMPLIANCE WITH OPPORTUNITY TO CURE
WORDING: Variation #1:”You have failed to place the (electric/water – be specific) into your name per the requirements of your lease agreement.” Variation #2: “You have failed to pay the (electric/water- be specific) bill in the amount of $__________, and it has reverted into the name of the apartment community. You must pay this bill and place the utility in your name immediately.” (Note: Have your attorney help you with the exact wording; this is for sample purposes only.)
RENT ACCEPTANCE: Do not accept rent after you have served your Seven-Day Notice of Noncompliance with Opportunity to Cure, unless you are certain the resident has either paid what is owed and has had the utility account(s) placed back in the resident’s name and has provided you proof accordingly. Make sure the account is flagged properly.
PROOF ISSUES: Make sure that you have written proof from the utility company that the account is not in the resident’s name. A phone call to the utility company will not be enough.
1. Written proof that the utility is not in the resident’s name;
2. If cured, written proof from the utility company that the resident has placed the account into or back into the resident’s name.
FOLLOW UP AND DANGERS
If a resident has failed to place a utility in the resident’s name, and you realize it is in the name of the owner or the apartment community, there is a temptation to notify the utility company that it should not be on in the apartment community or owner’s name, and then the utility company may shut it off. THIS IS A PROHIBITED PRACTICE. DO NOT DO THIS.
AVOIDING PART OF THE PROBLEM IN THE FIRST PLACE – BE PROACTIVE
NEVER GIVE THE RESIDENT THE KEYS TO THE RENTAL UNIT UNTIL THE RESIDENT HAS PROVIDED PROOF THAT THE UTILITY HAS BEEN PLACED IN THE RESIDENT’S NAME. While this cannot prevent the problem of the resident failing to pay later, it will avoid the problem of the resident moving in while the utilities are still on in the owner’s name.
RACIAL SLURS AND HARASSMENT BY A RESIDENT AGAINST ANOTHER
PROBLEM: Resident is having issues with another resident or residents on the premises, and it has been reported to you that the resident has yelled at, threatened or used a racial slur or slurs against another resident or residents.
FORM: SEVEN-DAY NOTICE OF NONCOMPLIANCE WITH OPPORTUNITY TO CURE
WORDING: Variation #1: ”You are causing an unreasonable disturbance on the premises and disturbing the peaceful, quiet enjoyment of the premises for other residents, due to yelling and or threatening another resident.” Variation #2: “You are causing an unreasonable disturbance on the premises and disturbing the peaceful, quiet enjoyment of the premises for other residents, due to using a racial slur or slurs against another resident.” (Note: have your attorney help you with the exact wording; this is for sample purposes only.)
RENT ACCEPTANCE: Do not accept rent after you have served your Seven-Day Notice of Noncompliance with Opportunity to Cure, unless you are certain that this behavior has 100% stopped and there are no more complaints coming in.
PROOF ISSUES: Unless you and or your staff personally witnessed the yelling or racial slurs, most likely you found out about it by the affected resident or other neighbors. If it is serious, always urge the resident to call the police if there was a threat of bodily harm or the yelling or threats continue. While the police most likely will not effectuate an arrest, this helps in building your proof and documentation. Arguments between residents are extremely difficult to evict upon. Your main goal will be to have the behavior stop. It often takes two to tango, so the person complaining could in fact be the instigator of the problem.
1. Police reports documenting law enforcement response based upon a resident complaint.
2. Written statements from the resident and neighbor (keep in mind written statements are not admissible in court, unless the person who wrote them comes to court (Read the article on hearsay again);
3. Staff witnessing and document the yelling, racial slurs or threats;
4. Written reports from your courtesy officer (hearsay exceptions apply);
5. Any correspondence between the resident and staff;
6. Call logs from after-hours complaints.
A FAIR HOUSING NOTE
If you are made aware that a resident is using racial slurs against another resident, or commenting on some other matter related to a protected class status, such as children, religion, national origin or a disability, and you fail to take swift, serious action, you and your company could be faced with a discrimination complaint. While it may seem a stretch, you ARE POTENTIALLY responsible for what happens on your property once you are made aware of it. Do not take sides, but NEVER take a resident complaint lightly if it involves allegations that may be construed as any form of discrimination. While you and your staff would never intentionally discriminate against someone, other residents’ actions could be your responsibility.
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Ensuring the Resident Received Notice
by Harry Heist, Attorney at Law
We have all heard it before. The resident claims not to have received a notice, and as usual, it was an important one, like a non-renewal notice or a 3-day notice. You sent it by certified mail to be sure it is received, but there it is on your desk returned to you. Did the resident get notice? Now you are in a pickle.
Florida Law and Notices
When it comes to landlord/tenant law, the only notice you need to send by certified mail is the Notice of Intention to Impose Claim on Security Deposit. That is it. Note the word “send”. It does not matter if the resident receives that particular notice, it matters that you sent it to the last known address, which as has been discussed in prior articles, is the home where the resident was living OR a forwarding mailing address provided by the resident. As a reminder, if a resident prior to departure or at departure gives you a new mailing address, USE that address, and make sure you do not forget. I recommend taking a marker and writing it clearly on the outside of the file, so that you do not accidentally send it to the wrong address. Many residents do not put in a forwarding address with the USPS when they depart, so you never can depend that they will have the post office forward the notice to them. Many of our clients feel they can simply hand the Notice of Intention to Impose Claim on Security Deposit to the resident rather than mail it, and save some money in the process, BUT the law does not provide for this, so DO NOT do it.
The Lease and Notice Delivery
There are thousands of different leases in use at any given time. Some are store bought junk, some come from another state, some are created by clueless attorneys who do not practice landlord/tenant law, some are handmade, some are FAR/BAR, some are Blue Moon, some are modified by the property manager, and some prepared by an attorney who actually knows landlord/tenant law inside and out. What does this all mean to you? You need to KNOW your lease, as the lease may contain a clause that provides how the resident is to receive notice. If the lease indicates that a resident is to get a notice by hand-delivery or certified mail, the lease may override what the law provides. We have clients who have posted a notice on the resident’s door, but the lease indicated that any legal notice be sent by regular or certified mail. We have had non-renewal notices put on the resident’s door, but the lease indicates the notice had to be mailed, and the eviction was denied. The key is to KNOW what your lease requires. Ideally, everyone would use the same lease and be 100% familiar with it, but as you grow, get new accounts, and take over companies, you are stuck with the current lease until such time as you get the resident on your lease. The first thing you should do when you see an unfamiliar lease is to examine how notice is to be delivered, and make a bold note of this on the file or in your computer system.
Best Practices When Serving Notices
There is generally nothing wrong with serving notices multiple ways. Why would you do this? Well, the key is to make sure the resident gets the notice and does not try to deny the same. We have seen many situations when the property manager serves a non-renewal notice, and then when later discussing the upcoming move-out date, the resident absolutely denies ever receiving the notice. Now what? If this ends up in court, this leaves you with a situation when a judge has to make a decision as to who is telling the truth. The judge is going to believe either you or the resident, and there is absolutely no guarantee who that will be. A resident-sympathetic judge combined with a very believable con artist can be a recipe for disaster. Let’s go through some steps.
A. Read the lease. Serve the notice in accordance with the lease;
B. Know the law. Most notices can be posted on the premises in the resident's absence or hand-delivered;
C. Now, depending on the type of notice, serve it by one or more alternate methods.
Additional Serving Methods
If you want to be almost 100% sure that your resident gets a particular notice, serve by posting on the premises, hand-deliver it to the resident, or take a photo of the notice on the door in the resident’s absence, hand-deliver to the resident, use a private process server, mail by regular mail and also mail by certified mail. Sounds a bit overboard, but our clients who go this far and who also use a witness to verify the notice was hand-delivered or posted, rarely if ever have trouble in court proving notice delivery.
A. Certified Mail One of the biggest problems with mailing notices certified mail (with the exception of the Notice of Intention to Impose Security Deposit, which MUST be mailed certified) is simply that the resident refuses the certified mail or does not pick it up. Result? The resident never got notice
B. Adding days for mailing. This is very important. If you mail a notice, by law, you must give 5 additional days for mailing time per Florida law. This can be a disaster if your lease were to require giving the resident 30 days’ notice of non-renewal, and you mailed the notice on the 1st of the month. Technically, the result would be the resident got a short, invalid notice, as you forgot to add 5 additional days. You might assume that you just have to give the resident an additional 5 more days to move, but that is a fallacy. Your notice was WRONG and now invalid. You would have to start all over again.
The job of a process server is to serve notices. They serve court documents, pleadings, lawsuits, and they will serve just about anything else you give them. Most are certified by the county where they operate, judges in the county, or certified by the sheriff of that county. After they serve a document, they prepare an affidavit of service that is usually accepted by a judge. However, the problem is that it is not free. Most process servers charge from $25-75 just to go out and serve a notice, but sometimes it is worth it. We have clients who exclusively use process servers for all their notices and get a great volume pricing deal. If you need a process server, simply call our office, and we can tell you the names of process servers we use all over Florida. There is a little danger with process servers. Unless you tell the process server that the notice must be served on a particular day and/or you pay a rush fee, the process server may serve the notice a few days after you have given them the notice to serve. Do not expect them to drop everything and serve your notice unless you pay the price for this, and make it clear to them that a notice is time sensitive if in fact the notice is time sensitive.
Mailing 3-Day Notices and 7-Day Notices
You must read the article we have written on mailing 3-day notices. If you mail a 3-day notice, everything changes and becomes more complex. Since you have to add 5 days for mailing, the resident has an additional 5 days to pay, and all the timing changes. DO NOT mail a 3-day notice unless you consult us first. A similar argument can also be made with regard to 7-day noncompliance notices, at least in terms of when the notice expires.
The Resident You Do Not Trust
If you do not trust a resident or the resident has already begun to fight you on an issue, most pertinently about a pending non-renewal, we recommend you go all out and use multiple service methods. If the extra business days required for a mailing will not be an issue, go ahead and mail your notice using both certified mail and regular mail, serve by posting on the premises or hand deliver with a witness, and even if using a process server, don’t simply rely on the fact that service by a process server is “official” to keep you safe. The affidavit by a process server has and can be challenged in court, so the more ways you serve, the safer you will be.
A Final Word on the Topic
If you are not sure how to serve a notice, please consult us first. A quick email when we can look at the lease can be invaluable. Serving a notice incorrectly can result in a serious delay, a failed eviction, and liability to the property owner who relied on you to do it correctly.
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