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LEGAL NEWS - JUNE 2006


WHERE ARE WE IN 2006?    

The past few years were full of changes and developments in the rental housing industry. Massive apartment to condo conversions resulted in a net loss of rental units and a shift towards more units being managed by smaller real estate companies. Thousands of investors bought Florida homes for rentals investments. A large number of new property managers with no training or experience whatsoever are coming online and hitting the pavement to start or increase their businesses. Seasoned apartment managers have cut back on getting legal education and attending apartment association functions due to worries about job security.  All the while this is happening, attorneys are attacking landlords and property managers like never before. NOW is the time to get more involved in your local apartment association or property manager’s association, and NOW is the time to become more educated. Complacency in times like these can be disastrous.  Please feel free to call us for contact information, or visit our LINKS page if you are not currently active in an association.

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THE TIPPING STOVE – A LAWSUIT WAITING TO HAPPEN   

The bacon is cooking away on the stove and your tenant’s toddler decides to investigate. Opening the oven door, he finds this to be a convenient step with which to examine the cooking bacon.  While standing on the now open oven door, the oven tips forward and the bacon grease goes flying severely burning the toddler. A lawsuit waiting to happen? They are happening right now.

Click here to see how you can easily prevent this accident.

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HURRICANE, STORMS AND THE TENANT     

Hurricane season has begun, and with each year we learn more lessons on dealing with problems that arise in the landlord/tenant relationship. How do we deal with generators? Can we prohibit them? Precautionary measures? Evacuations? Liability on the landlord’s part? The tenant taking precautionary measures into his own hands?  Damage to the property and the tenant refusing to vacate?  A review of your current lease and rules and regulations will probably reveal many deficiencies in dealing with these issues. This can cause ambiguities and lawsuits.

Click here to see how you can deal with some storm related issues.

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AUTHORIZING THE UNAUTHORIZED TENANT    

During a property inspection, you discover that there are two unauthorized occupants residing on the premises. You confront the tenant, and she says that they are living there. You immediately serve a 7 Day Notice of Noncompliance with Opportunity to Cure, and they ask to be put on the lease. You run a background check, and they fail miserably.  Can you now just serve a Seven Day Notice of Termination? What are the mechanics and the timing involved? Special forms?  Common mistakes?

Click here for the mechanics of authorizing the unauthorized occupant.

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TAKING A TENANT OFF OF A LEASE        

Your tenant Mary comes to you stating that she has been having domestic violence issues with her boyfriend, Jim, also a tenant on the lease.  Jim is now in jail on unrelated charges, and she wants him taken off of the lease.  In a similar scenario, he has moved to another state, and she wants him taken off the lease. Can you do it? If so, how can it be done? 

 

Click here to see how to remove a tenant from a lease.

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A LANDLORD’S HORROR STORY – $18,000 ATTORNEY’S FEES AWARDED TO THE TENANT IN A TENANT EVICTION? YOU BET        

Florida law specifically addresses attorney’s fees, providing that the prevailing party in a landlord/tenant action is entitled to an award of attorney’s fees and costs.  A typical landlord is accustomed to paying a few hundred dollars to his or her attorney to evict a tenant, which as we all know is almost never collected from the tenant. What if you lose the eviction? A landlord can be faced with paying a tenant’s attorney, who frequently did not ask for payment up front from the tenant, at the potential rate of $250.00 or even $350.00 per hour.  A tenant’s attorney in a Manatee County case was awarded $18,000.00 for an eviction that the landlord lost, and the same thing can happen to you. It is crucial that extreme caution is taken with every eviction that is filed, due to the potential for having to pay the tenant’s attorney’s fees. Taking the time to double check your paperwork, and most importantly, disclosing all information to your attorney before the case is filed, can save you thousands of dollars.
 

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THE FAIR HOUSING CORNER - FEAR vs. FACTS                                                            By Cathy L. Lucrezi, Attorney at Law

How often have you dealt with a complaint that a tenant is “acting crazy”?  “Scaring” other tenants? Or listened to the community gossip that Ms. X is insane and could “go off” at any time?  Mentally ill individuals should not suffer such prejudices.  Fear, speculation, and stereotype should not take the place of fair treatment based on the facts.
 

Click here to get the FACTS.

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INDUSTRY LEADER OF THE MONTH - DONNA REITER – Appliance Warehouse  

This year, Donna is celebrating 30 years in the multi-family housing industry.  Joining Appliance Warehouse 3 years ago with a rock-solid background of sales and service to the multi-housing industry, Donna is a former Regional Vice President with Macke Laundry, Executive Sales Representative with Coinmach, and Territory Manager with Sears Contract Sales; Donna’s reputation for excellence precedes her.

From the very beginning of her career, Donna recognized the importance of supporting the multi-housing industry: thus, her commitment to, and involvement in, The Apartment Association of Greater Orlando, Space Coast Apartment Association and Florida Apartment Association.  Over the past 30 years, she has served AAGO as Secretary, Associate Co-Chair, Associate Chair, Associate Vice President along with serving on the Board and Executive Committee for AAGO.  She presently serves on the Trade Show Committee as Chair of Marketing and is fondly known as “the senior white bag lady” for a marketing strategy she developed several years ago to encourage attendance at the annual trade show. Donna was awarded Volunteer of the year by AAGO in 2005. Donna holds a Board position with the Space Coast Apartment Association and chairs the Legislative Committee.  Another past duty held was V.P of the Associates Committee.  Donna was awarded Volunteer of the year by SCAA in 2002 and continues to be dedicated to supporting SCAA, because her now deceased husband, Wayne, started the Association.

On a state level, Donna has served as FAA’s Conference Co-Chair and presently serves on that committee.  She has held a seat on the FAA Board for the past several years.  In 1998, Donna was honored as “Associate Volunteer of the Year” at the FAA Conference.  Donna was instrumental in developing and chairing the “Suppliers Council” at FAA which is now known as the Product Service Council.

Donna’s hobbies are golf, reading and working in her garden.  Her proudest achievement is her daughter Tracy.  What a great asset Donna is to the property manager and the multi-family housing industry.

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In this issue:

Where Are We in 2006?

Tipping Stove Dangers

Hurricane, Storms and Tenant

Authorizing the Unauthorized Tenant

Taking a Tenant off of a Lease

Landlord's Horror Story

Fair Housing Corner

Industry Leader of the Month

 
 

July
Legal Holiday Alert

Do not forget to exclude this Legal Holiday when preparing your Three Day Notices in July 2006!

4 - Independence Day

 
 
 

Legal News Archive:

October 2004

November 2004

December 2004

January 2005

February 2005

March 2005

April 2005

May 2005

June 2005

July 2005

August 2005

September 2005

October 2005

November 2005

December 2005

January 2006

February 2006

March 2006

April 2006

May 2006

   
   

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

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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