! EDUCATION! EDUCATION – An
Educated Property Manager is a Successful Property Manager!
will be a big year for educational programs at the Law Offices
of Heist, Weisse & Lucrezi. Many classes ranging from 3 to 5
hours are scheduled all over Florida in the coming year.
Separate classes are geared to the residential property manager,
and attendees receive 3 CE Specialty hour credits, while others
are focused on apartment managers and maintenance staff.
Invitations are usually sent by mail, but if you are not on our
mailing list, all classes will be listed on the
section of EVICT.COM.
Back to Top
LEGISLATIVE ACTIVITIES HEATING UP- WILL
YOU GET INVOLVED?
number of bills directly affecting property managers have been
introduced in the Florida Legislature so far this year, with
plenty more to come. These bills pertain to criminal penalties
for landlords renting to sexual predators, the ability to charge
liquidated damages upon voluntary or involuntary lease break,
and mold remediation regulations. It is extremely important that
you keep up on these bills as they progress, as we may need your
help supporting or defeating them as the case may be. Make sure
you attend the following Legislative Days in Tallahassee: March
28-29 Florida Apartment Association, March 29-30 Florida
Association of Residential Property Managers.
Back to Top
THE MOTION TO STAY THE WRIT OF
A Tenant Delay Tactic
eviction is speeding right along. The tenant did not file an
answer with the court, a default has been entered by the clerk,
the judge has signed the Final Judgment, and you told your
attorney the tenants have not vacated and you want the sheriff
to come out. The Writ of Possession is served by the sheriff,
the sheriff is supposed to give you possession on Wednesday at 9
am, and you are already cooling off the champagne for your
celebration when you suddenly receive a call from your attorney
saying that the Writ of Possession has been STAYED and the
judge wants a hearing! What on earth is going on?
understand the Motion to Stay Writ of Possession delay tactic
HO-HO-HO! ARE YOUR EVICTIONS DRAGGING IN DECEMBER?
HERE IS WHY
year the Christmas spirit is felt among the County Court judges
who handle the eviction actions. Cases mysteriously get held up
and delayed by some judges while you are anxiously hoping the
sheriff will be calling you to “complete the job”. If you have a
court hearing close to Christmas, even if you win, you can count
on the judge giving the tenant until after December 25 to
vacate. Is this legal? Well, no but….Florida law does not have
any provisions governing holiday sympathy delays, but there is
not much that can be done. Some Sheriff’s departments,
Hillsborough County is one example, actually have written
policies where they will not serve the Writ of Possession in the
last 2 weeks of December. If you file an eviction in December,
expect a delay!
Back to Top
BILLING FOR WATER NOW OR IN THE FUTURE
apartment communities have traditionally included the cost of
water in the rent amount. Since there is usually only one meter
on the premises, the water bill was paid by the apartment
community and the cost passed onto the tenant seamlessly through
the rent amount. Due to the increasing cost of water, for many
years now apartment communities have been either sub-metering
the apartments or using a system where the water is apportioned
to the units and charged separately to the tenant. The problem
though is transitioning from the old way of the apartment
community paying for the water to getting the tenants to pay.
Without proper lease terminology, the only way to get the
tenants to pay for the water is if there is a new lease or at
renewal time, the current tenant signs a new lease, or addendum.
Does your lease have the proper wording? We doubt it!
Click here to see how your lease can aid you in water bill
Back to Top
PROHIBITED PRACTICES- WHO ME? NEVER! BUT ARE YOU SURE?
every property manager knows that it is illegal to take a
tenant’s door off, shut off the electricity, lock out the tenant
or get a big friend to physically remove a problem tenant. While
down deep we may want to do these things on occasion, Florida
Statutes clearly consider these actions and many others
“prohibited practices” entitling the tenant to sue for 3 months’
rent, attorney’s fees and maybe more! The real surprising fact
is that many a well meaning property manager commits prohibited
practices without realizing they are doing so.
Click here to see if you REALLY know about prohibited
Back to Top
PROCEDURE QUICK TIP – THE FAX COVER PAGE
day long our office receives faxes of Three Day Notices, Leases
and legal questions from our clients.
Often we need to respond
to the fax, answer the legal question or send requested forms to
the client. Surprisingly about half the time, the faxes sent to
us have no cover sheet or an insufficient cover sheet attached,
so we need to then search around for the property or company
name to find out what the return fax number or phone number may
be. Result? Time is unnecessarily wasted. Coincidentally, most
fax cover sheets we receive have OUR fax number on it. While
this is nice, we do happen to know our fax number! It is your
fax number that is more important to us! If you do not have a
proper fax cover sheet, an easy way to create one is to take
your letterhead and first make sure the font is large enough so
it can be read when faxed. Confirm you have the following
fields in nice large type: Company name:, To:, From:, Date:,
Number of pages including cover sheet:, Re:, Your fax number
with area code:, Recipient’s fax number with area code.
Lastly, remember that a fax will cut off an approximate ½ inch
margin on all sides of the page. If you have your information in
this area, it will never be seen by the recipient. It is always
important to use a fax cover page with every single fax sent.
Not only will it help the recipient, but it creates the all
important paper trail for you.
Back to Top
INDUSTRY LEADER OF THE MONTH
Evers is the Regional Vice President for Property Counselors
Management Group (PCMG) based in Fort Myers Florida. Residing
in Orlando, he oversees markets in Tampa and Fort Myers with
Four Regional Managers and two District Managers reporting to
Glenn began in
the industry in 1984 working for the largest property management
company at the time, Johnstown American, beginning as a part
time Leasing Agent and eventually Property Manager. Since 1984
Glenn has worked for large companies such as AIMCO and MERRY
LAND as well as numerous private owners. He has worked with
both upscale and distressed portfolios covering every major
market in the state of Florida holding every position from
Leasing Consultant to Regional Vice President.
Addicted to the multi-family housing industry,
Glenn began his dedication to the apartment associations
beginning in the late 80’s, serving on the Board of Directors
and holding positions such as Secretary and Vice President of
the Bay Area Apartment Association before relocating to South
Florida. Glenn is a CAM, NALP and CAPS instructor and has
served as Education Chair for the BAAA. After some time away
from association involvement, Glenn is back with a vengeance and
getting heavily involved with both the local associations and
the Florida Apartment Association. He firmly believes it is a
great blessing to be in an industry that has associations where
your competitors are also your friends! 2006 will be a huge and
exciting year for Glenn and PCMG as he helps take their company
Back to Top
FAIR HOUSING CORNER - DIRECT THREAT
By Cathy L. Lucrezi, Attorney at Law
Fair Housing Act protects disabled individuals, including those
with mental illness, but it does not protect a tenant who is a
“direct threat” to the health or safety of other tenants or who
causes substantial physical damage to the property of others,
unless a reasonable accommodation can alleviate the situation.
It is wrong to
exclude applicants or evict tenants based on fear, speculation,
or stereotype about mental illness. Instead, a determination
that a person poses a direct threat must be founded on an
individualized assessment that is based on reliable objective
evidence. That assessment has three parts:
What is the nature, duration, and severity of the risk of
What is the probability that the injury will actually occur?
Are there any reasonable accommodations that will eliminate the
is not an exact science. There are no easy rules to apply. It
all depends on the particular conduct that is being displayed.
Management’s use of good judgment is key.
Note that even
if a person poses a “direct threat”, management must consider
whether there is a reasonable accommodation that will correct
the situation. Here’s an example used by HUD:
A tenant is
arrested for threatening his neighbors while swinging a baseball
bat. You issue a seven day notice of termination due to the
criminal behavior, but you then get a phone call from the
tenant’s attorney. The attorney says that the tenant should be
given another chance because the tenant is starting a new
medication that will control his behavior. Management should
grant this accommodation if the attorney can provide
satisfactory assurance that the tenant will receive appropriate
counseling and periodic medication monitoring so that he will no
longer pose a direct threat during his tenancy. If the tenant
refuses to do this, then management can proceed with its
Back to Top