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LEGAL NEWS - MAY 2008


2008 FLORIDA LEGISLATIVE SESSION IS ADJOURNED!

The past legislative session was one of the most challenging and successful to date for the rental housing industry. The members, staff and lobbyist team of the Florida Apartment Association, (FAA) and the Florida Association of Residential Property Managers (FARPM) worked tirelessly to protect the industry’s interests. Legislation harmful to the industry was stopped, and the important “Early Termination Bill”, while not signed yet by the Governor, passed both the House and the Senate with overwhelming support. Not all was good though, as it appears that eviction filing fees may be raised by 350%, but the budget still has not passed into law. The importance of being politically active cannot be understated, and we are already preparing for 2009.

Click here for a detailed 2008 Legislative Update.

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AVOIDING “ACCEPTANCE OF RENT”

What? Why would you want to refuse rent? The tenant may be currently under eviction, in continuing noncompliance with some other term or condition of the lease, holding over, or making a partial payment; in these cases you would not want to accept rent, but rather you will want to refuse the rent payment, as it could interfere with the tenant removal process. The problem is that the tenant came to your office, paid your front desk person and received a receipt! Have you accepted rent? Has a waiver been created such that the tenant now cannot be removed?

Click here to see how to craft a “receipt” to avoid unintended consequences.

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YOUR COMPANY’S “WORK ORDER POLICY” AND THE LAW

Most companies have a written policy under which the tenant is instructed to put all work orders for repairs in writing. No work order, no repair. The problem arises when your maintenance person is verbally notified of a repair need while on the property and fails to make the repair due to company policy.  The tenant subsequently withholds rent or uses this as an eviction defense, and now you have to tell the judge that the repair was not made because the work order was not put in writing by the tenant.  Will a judge care about your “policy”, or will a judge feel that your maintenance person was put on proper notice when verbally told of the problem while on the property?

Click here to see how company policy and the law can conflict.

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MOVE-OUT INSPECTION QUICK TIP

Your tenant is in the process of vacating and asks you to do the move-out inspection with the tenant present. Sounds like a good idea.  The tenant will accompany you while you inspect the property. BAD IDEA. You, as a professional landlord should do the inspection at your leisure, in an organized and careful fashion with no pressure from the tenant watching you. You will avoid volatile situations, and there will be no chance that you will say “Everything looks fine”, only to discover serious damages later, increasing the probability of a dispute and having those three fateful words thrown right back at you.

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THE CORPORATION AS A TENANT

While we strongly recommend against having corporations as tenants in residential leases, sometimes it is necessary and often actually works out fine. How the lease is executed with the corporation becomes a big problem, and rarely do we see leases with corporations executed correctly. The name of the corporation, who signs, the personal guarantee and how it is signed will determine if you will potentially have a successful lease or major problems later.
 
Click here to learn how to enter into the lease with the corporation.

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COMMERCIAL LAW AND YOU - Remedial Provisions And Expediting Eviction and Judgement In Light of Today's Crowded Court Docket

Many commercial landlords face huge court docket delays due to the overcrowded court system bogged down by foreclosures and inundation with court cases, resulting in substantial monetary loss. Can anything be done to allay the situation? Redrafting of your lease to provide for alternative dispute resolution mechanisms may be the solution, especially as it pertains to monetary damages. While the pure removal process may be quick under the law if no monetary damages are sought, the monetary damages section of the case can be used by a tenant to seriously bog down a case.

Click here for info on how drafting your lease can speed up your commercial evictions by attorney Kevin Jursinski.

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SELFSTORAGELEGAL.COM - Tenant Screening And Privacy Rights

You most likely (or should) have all the state of the art equipment to run your self-storage facility.  All of these items are important, but what actually prevents you from renting to a tenant who will use his unit to break into other occupied units, brew methamphetamines, or stalk your tenants for the purpose of rape, robbery or the like?  Is it really the best business plan to let people move into your multi-million dollar investment without really knowing who they are?  Probably not; that is why the next “must have” in your office is online screening.
 
Click here to read Self Storage Law expert attorney Jeffrey Greenberger’s article “Tenant Screening And Privacy Rights”.

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THE FAIR HOUSING CORNER - WHAT ARE DIFFERENT “TERMS AND CONDITIONS”?
                          
                                By Cathy L. Lucrezi, Attorney at Law

It seems obvious, doesn’t it?  A landlord cannot impose different terms and conditions on a tenancy based on the tenant’s race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, or handicap.  However, landlords can find themselves doing exactly that without realizing it.  You are invited to do a bit of self-examination.
 
Click here  to understand “Different Terms and Conditions".
 

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In this issue:

2008 Florida Legislation Session Adjourned

Avoiding "Acceptance of Rent"

"Work Order Policy"

Corporation as a Tenant

Commercial Law And You

SelfStorageLegal.com

Fair Housing Corner

 
 

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