LEGAL NEWS - JANUARY 2005


 LEGISLATIVE CALL TO ACTION

Legislative action is heating up, and this year as usual, bills will be filed which have an impact on property managers. Items such as insurance rates, water billing, fair housing, the Landlord/Tenant act, and telecommunications all can have a major impact on the property manager’s profession and bottom line. Keeping the laws fair to all parties helps Florida remain an affordable place to live and encourages investment in rental properties. Property management associations such as the Florida Apartment Association and the Florida Association of Residential Property managers keep a close eye on the developments but need your help.

Click here for some hot items we are watching in Tallahassee.

 

 SECURITY ISSUES

Are you responsible for an injury or death related to crime that occurs on your rental property that you own or manage? A jury in Tampa, Florida thinks so. Over $15 million was awarded to an individual who was abducted from the parking lot of a Tampa apartment community and later shot. What will this mean to owners and managers of rental property? Will you need to make changes on your property? Can this put you out of business? Are there steps you need to take today?

Click here for some steps you can take today.

 

 NOTICE TRAINING OF THE MONTH – SERVING THE THREE DAY NOTICE

The most common notice a property manager has to serve is unfortunately the Three Day Notice to Pay Rent or Vacate. Improper service of the notice can result in an eviction case being thrown out of court or you having to give another Three Day Notice and losing more rent money. This article will examine the ins and outs of SERVICE of our most common notice.

For an in-depth article on Serving a Three Day Notice,
click here.

 

 HOT TIP— DOG BITES!!

Will the property owner’s insurance cover dog bites? Do not be surprised if they do not. Many insurance companies are now specifically excluding dog bite injuries from coverage in their liability policies. In the past, only the “dangerous dogs” were prohibited and/or excluded from coverage. Things are changing. It is imperative that you check the policy and any renewals to see if dogs are covered. If you discover an unauthorized dog, steps should be taken immediately to get the dog and/or the residents off the premises immediately, as the property manager could also be held liable for injuries one may suffer due to a dog bite

 

 FICTITIOUS NAMES

Fictitious name? What are you talking about? Let’s say your apartment community or one you are managing is called Snowcap Run Apartments and is owed by Apartment Holdings Industries Partnership, LLC. Guess what: you are operating under a fictitious name.  You cannot legally file an eviction, and doing so is actually a criminal misdemeanor in Florida. If a tenant gets an attorney, often they look you up, and if you are not properly registered, your eviction can get seriously delayed or even thrown out of court. All you need to do is fill out a Fictitious Name Application and pay the State of Florida a small fee.

Click this link to see if your apartment community has registered its fictitious name. If it has not, do it ASAP. No lawyer is needed to file this for you.
 

 BETSY MORGAN - INDUSTRY LEADER OF THE MONTH

Elizabeth “Betsy “ Darling Morgan has been a Property Manager for over 22 years in the Tampa Bay area. She is a past State Director of Property Management from 1999 to 2001 for Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate, and currently she is the Director of Leasing and Property Management for Prudential Tropical Realty supervising 10 property managers. Betsy has GRI from the Realtor’s Institute and her Master Property Manager designation (MPM) from the National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM). Betsy is past president of the Tampa Bay Chapter of NARPM, current Vice President of the Florida Association of Residential Property Managers (FARPM) and the National Committee Chair for new chapter development for NARPM.  Prior to entering property management, Betsy taught high school English and public speaking in Philadelphia and Atlanta. When not working or spending time with her wonderful family, she continues to put those teaching skills to use in developing training classes for property managers who wish to develop organized systems for handling the details of the business.
 

 JANUARY LEASE TIP - FIREWORKS!!

Did the New Year’s celebration on your property include many of the tenants igniting fireworks? Is Independence Day a war zone on your property? Did you know that each year thousands of people are injured and many die using fireworks? Does your lease adequately ban fireworks from the property and allow you to take action if the tenants violate the lease?

Click here for some action you can take regarding controlling fireworks on rental properties and a sample lease clause.
 

 THE FAIR HOUSING CORNER - DON’T THROW THAT APPLICATION
 IN THE TRASH!    
            By Cathy L. Lucrezi, Attorney at Law

Don’t discourage applications from individuals who appear to be disabled!  Resist the temptation to “know what’s best” for disabled applicants who you think will not qualify or who will not like the rental unit.  If you discourage a person from applying, you may be violating the fair housing laws.

 

HUD recently charged an owner of a rental unit with denying housing to a couple who were disabled.  The case alleges that when the couple applied for housing, the wife told the property manager that she liked the unit because it was close to the medical center where she went for kidney dialysis.  The husband viewed the unit while using his mobile oxygen tank.  The property manager failed to process the application; she actually threw it into the garbage!  When the couple later called to check on the status of the application, the property manager agent said she felt they were “too sick” to live in the unit.  If HUD is successful in proving the case, the property owner and manager may have to pay damages, costs, and attorney fees, as well as being subject to an ongoing injunction.

 

What the property manager should have done was to receive the application and process it as she would any other application.  Whether or not the couple would have been “too sick” to live in the rental unit is NOT a decision for the property manager to make.

 

In this issue:

Legislative Call to Action

Security Issues

Serving the Three-Day Notice

Hot Tip - Dig Bites!!

Fictitious Names

Industry Leader of the Month

Jan. Lease Tip - Fireworks

Fair Housing Corner

 
 

February
Legal Holiday Alert

Don't forget to exclude this Legal Holiday when preparing your Three Day Notices in February 2005!

 21 - President's Day


NOTE:
Valentine's Day - Feb.14 -
is NOT a Legal Holiday


 

MESSAGE BOARD

Have a burning topic or question?  Want to discuss a legal issue?Afraid to use your real name? Make sure you visit our “Message Board”.

Click here for
the EVICT.COM
Message Board.

 
 
 

Legal News Archive:

September 2004

November 2004

December 2004

 
 
 
 
 

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Law Offices of Heist, Weisse & Lucrezi, P.A.

Copyright 2004-2005. All Rights Reserved.

Law Offices of Heist, Weisse & Lucrezi, P.A.
Phone: 1-800-253-8428     Fax: 1-800-367-9038
Serving Florida's Property Managers with offices in Orlando, Tampa, and Fort Myers Beach, Principal Office