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LEGAL NEWS - FEBRUARY 2008


WATCH OUT FOR THE FEES!!

With the passage of Amendment 1 to the Florida Constitution, rest assured that the non-homestead and commercial property owner will soon be hit with all kinds of fee increases and brand new fees to make up for the budgetary shortfalls. Your city councils and county commissioner are actively trying to sneak in fees as you read this newsletter. All landlords and individuals involved in the multi-family housing industry need to be determined to fight any and all fee increases or new fees that are imposed. Get involved, and carefully watch what your county or city is doing. Tell them to trim the fat and cut the expenses from the budgets they have allowed to bloat as appraised values skyrocketed. If you sit back and do nothing, the burden may be worse than if Amendment 1 had never passed.

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HERE WE GO- A FIRE RESCUE ASSESSMENT ORDINANCE

The city of Winter Springs is currently deciding on the passage of a Fire Assessment (i.e., fee) ordinance which will cost $194.00 per unit. This type of fee is exactly what we fear will become prevalent throughout Florida and will devastate an already suffering rental housing market. The Apartment Association of Greater Orlando (AAGO) is speaking out on this fee ordinance and is actively opposing its passage. NOW is the time we all need to become more active in our local apartment association, NARPM chapter, FARPM and local landlord associations. Political activism by all involved in this industry is not an option, it is a necessity.

Click here for a Press Release from Chip Tatum, Governmental Affairs Director Apartment Association of Greater Orlando.

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WHEN IS AN OPTION NOT AN OPTION?

Many property owners are entering into lease options with their tenants. The idea is that the tenant has an option to purchase the home at some time in the future at a price set today. Can the owner change his mind after the tenant has moved in or refuse to allow the tenant to exercise the option to purchase? No. If the tenant is not in default of the lease option, the owner must allow the tenant to exercise the option. A lease option under which the owner can refuse to allow the tenant to exercise the option is not an option at all. Be very cautious when an owner requests a lease option, as it will bind the owner to honoring that option if the tenant wishes to exercise it.  The owner must fully understand what he is giving the tenant.

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LEASE RENEWALS AND MONEY OWED

Your tenant’s lease is nearly up. You offer a renewal even though there are outstanding late charges, past due water bills, a security deposit that was never fully paid off and some monies owed for a repair that was due to the negligence of the tenant. You prepare a lease, but none of the prior delinquencies are reflected in the new lease. The tenant signs, continues to pay rent but refuses to pay the past money owed. Can you evict?

Click here to see how to deal with past due money and the new lease.

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THE IMPORTANCE OF ACCURACY

With the increase in eviction filings by pro se landlords, judges are seeing more problems than ever before. Pro se of course means “without an attorney”. In an attempt to save money, many private owners decide to file their own evictions, and in the process make huge mistakes. The large number of mistakes have resulted in the judges being more cautious, so as not to evict tenants when the Three Day Notice, summons or complaint is improper. Whereas in the past some judges would have signed final eviction judgments without a rigorous look at the court file, now these same judges are scrutinizing the paperwork.

Click here to see how to avoid the most common mistakes.

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INHERITING THE BAD LEASE

A landlord or property manger will often inherit leases from the prior landlord or manager. These leases are usually store bought leases, a lease out of a self-help guide, or something the landlord printed out from an internet site. You file an eviction a month later only to realize that the lease required all notices to be sent by certified mail. Surprise! You now have to start over again. Can this have been avoided? Yes, but it takes some time and knowledge of what to look for.

Click here to learn what to spot in the inherited lease.

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SELFSTORAGELEGAL.COM - Cell Tower Leases and Your Self Storage Facility

Many self storage owners and operators have fallen in love with an unexpected source of revenue at their self storage facilities.  Namely a cell tower, and once a cell tower is up and running on your property, it is a lot like found money.  Assuming you can get a cell tower company to be interested in your property, you must be extremely careful to properly negotiate the terms and conditions of the agreement before you simply sign on to a long term agreement.

Click here to read Self Storage Law expert attorney Jeffrey Greenberger’s article “Cell Tower Leases and Your Self Storage Facility”.
 

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COMMERCIAL LAW AND YOU - Going Dark - When Your Tenant Ceases Doing Business

Your commercial tenant ceases operating their business. As used in the vernacular of commercial leases, this is called “going dark”. The leased premises may appear to be abandoned, and this may have an economic impact on not only the landlord if the rent is not being paid, but other tenants. The viability of the center from a perception standpoint from prospective customers, the negative impact on the center as to percentage rentals, customer foot traffic and other intangibles can cause severe problems. Clearly from the standpoint of an anchor tenant, “going dark” could have a dramatic and extremely detrimental impact upon the retail center as to the local tenants then remaining.

Click here for info on how to deal with a commercial tenant “Going Dark” by attorney Kevin Jursinski.
 

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THE FAIR HOUSING CORNER - “EVICTIONS AND FAIR HOUSING”
                          
                                By Cathy L. Lucrezi, Attorney at Law

A proper notice and a risk of eviction often make a tenant comply with the lease.  However, that notice and risk of eviction can sometimes be perceived as a fair housing violation.  How can a landlord figure out how to enforce the lease without looking like he is violating the law?  Is there really such a tightrope to walk?
 

Click here  to keep yourself safe while evicting.
 

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In this issue:

Watch Out For The Fees!

Fee Ordinance

When is an Option Not An Option?

Lease Renewals and
Money Owed

The Importance of Accuracy

Inheriting the Bad Lease

Self-Storage

Commercial Law and You

Fair Housing Corner

 
 

March
Legal Holiday Alert

Don't forget to exclude this Legal Holiday when preparing your Three Day Notices in March 2008!

21 - Good Friday

 
   

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Law Offices of Heist, Weisse & Lucrezi, P.A.
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Serving Florida's Property Managers with offices in Orlando, Tampa, and Fort Myers Beach, Principal Office