LEGAL NEWS - OCTOBER 2005


 TENANT DELAY TACTICS – "THE MOTION TO DETERMINE RENT”

Your attorney filed an eviction on a tenant that clearly is two month’s delinquent. There is no disputing the amount and no problems with the premises; the tenant just has no money and told you he could not pay the rent. You think it is a slam dunk eviction, when out of the blue, your attorney notifies you that the tenant has filed a “Motion to Determine Rent”. A motion to determine WHAT?  On top of that, the tenant has not posted one dime into the Court Registry, and a court hearing is set for next week. How could this be? Doesn’t the tenant have to post the rent money into the Court Registry? The Motion to Determine Rent is one of the most annoying time delay tactics a tenant can successfully use against a landlord, and its use is on the rise.

Click here to find out what the Motion is and what it does to the eviction.

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 NEW SEXUAL PREDATOR AND OFFENDER ORDINANCES
 “NOW YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE?”

Most landlords know by now for obvious reasons that it is certainly not a good idea to rent to a sexual predator or offender. Most Resident Selection Criteria has or should have a provision whereby the landlord can reject an applicant in the event the applicant has committed any offenses of a sexual nature. A simple free internet check on the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s website will tell you whether someone is a registered sexual predator or offender in Florida and the person’s address. Due to the fact that Florida has over 30,000 current registered sexual offenders and predators, and these people have to live somewhere, local government is taking a radical step and CRIMINALLY punishing landlords who rent to them by enacting new ordinances which limit where these people can live.
 

Click here to see the latest developments in the landlord’s obligations.

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 FLORIDA CONSUMER COLLECTIONS ACT –  “ARE YOU IN VIOLATION?”  

You send out a Notice of Intention to Impose a Claim on Security Deposit due to tenant damages. The tenant writes you a letter disputing the charges and calling you every name in the book. You write a letter back explaining your charges and tell the tenant that if they don’t pay, you are going to send the account to collections. Sounds reasonable, right? You just violated the Florida Consumer Collections Law. The penalty? Actual damages PLUS additional statutory damages of up to $1,000.00, together with court costs and reasonable attorney's fees incurred by the tenant. This is serious business my friends, and attorneys are out there just waiting for you to violate the law.

Click here  to find out more about this little known but often used weapon against the landlord.

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LEASE QUICK TIP –  “ALL ADULT OCCUPANTS MUST SIGN THE LEASE"

Every day our office sees leases that are either signed by one of the tenants listed on the lease and not the other, or an adult is listed as an occupant and not a “tenant”, and thus is not a lease signer. The first situation is usually caused by the one of the tenants not being available at the time of lease signing and subsequent move in. A typical mistake is to give possession to the tenant who signed the lease in hopes that the other tenant will come in some time and sign the lease. Good luck. Once possession is given to the signing tenant, there is little chance that the other tenant will come in to sign the lease. You are now left with a contract that is not fully executed and could even be considered invalid at a later date. In the second situation, the landlord intentionally puts only one tenant on the lease and allows the other tenant to only be listed as an occupant. Usually this is done at the request of the signing tenant for a myriad of reasons. ALWAYS have all adults sign the lease as tenants. NEVER make any exceptions. Remember that the tenant who does not sign the lease has no obligation to pay the rent, the signing tenant may move out, the non-signing tenant may get a roommate, and now you have two people living on the premises who technically have absolutely no obligation to pay the rent, because they did not sign the lease, and the lease signer is nowhere to be found.
 

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SECRET TOOL OF THE MOST SUCCESSFUL PROPERTY MANAGERS   

Since 1989 our office has been dealing with Security Deposit Disputes. It is rare that a day goes by when one does not come in. Some are settled, some go to court. We win some, and we lose some. When we win, the landlord gets to retain the amount claimed from the security dispute but has to pay us to do so, and usually the only people who get any money are us. When we lose, the landlord is ordered to return the security deposit in part or whole, AND if there is an attorney on the other side, the landlord gets hit with a judgment for attorney’s fees and costs. On top of that the landlord still has to pay us. Isn’t that special? Almost every dispute centers around three things, proving the premises were not damaged when the tenant moved in, proving that the tenant damaged the premises when they were there and proving the cost of the damages. Over the years, we have noticed a strange and unusual phenomenon. Landlords who video tape the premises before the tenant moves in and after they move out rarely if ever have a security deposit dispute. CASE CLOSED. Watch future issues of this Newsletter to see an in depth article on the $300.00 power tool of the property manager – the VIDEO CAMERA.  In the meantime, BUY ONE AND USE IT!! 

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INDUSTRY LEADER OF THE MONTH - BRYAN CHAVIS  

Bryan Chavis, CPL, CAM, CPMS started the Landlording 101 Academy™ to empower Florida housing providers, such as landlords, investors, real estate agents, public housing authorities, and many more.  This is accomplished through various tools, such as educational courses and workshops, free landlord/investor roundtable discussions, an information-based website, and system oriented products.  With its innovative tools, the Academy is able to empower housing providers, which has a direct, positive impact on bettering the communities in which we live. Bryan is also the author and creator of the Landlording 101™ Operations Manual and training material for the Certified Professional Landlord™ Program, recognized by the Florida Realtor Estate Commission for continuing education.  Bryan also has been requested throughout the state of Florida as an instructor for the National Apartment Association’s Certified Apartment Manager Courses. Bryan is a thirty-two year old Florida native.  What makes Bryan unique is that he has overcome some major obstacles to achieve his goal of becoming a successful entrepreneur.  Bryan was diagnosed with dyslexia and severe ADD early on as a child.  Fortunately for the real estate world and countless others, each time he was knocked down he dusted himself off and got back up.  One of his favorite quotes is “fall seven times, get up eight”. Bryan also started the Winky Wright Landlording 101™Celebrity Charity Golf Tournament, along with Winky Wright, the WBA and WBC super welterweight boxing champion of the world.  The tournament raised over $15,000.00 which was donated to Academy Prep and The First Tee of St. Petersburg. Bryan's training courses are offered at St. Pete College, the only property management courses of a high enough caliber to be offered at a collegiate level.  Bryan travels around the state of Florida teaching landlord/tenant and Fair Housing courses.  His dedication and services have been praised by the City Of Bradenton, Manatee County, and the City of St. Petersburg.  The Landlording 101 Academy™ has taught workshops and courses for government programs such as the City of St. Petersburg Public Housing Authority, City of Bradenton Housing Authority, City of Bradenton Grants and Assistance Community Relations Department, Manatee County Public Housing Authority, City of Bartow Housing Authority and many more.  The Landlording 101 Academy™ has also provided training and education for the Greater Tampa Bay Association (GTAR) and Pinellas Realtor Organization (PRO), two of the most prestigious real estate associations in the nation.  Bryan is currently working with the Deputy Mayor of the City of St. Petersburg, Michael Dove, and the economic development team to put together a powerful and informative work shop that will not only benefit investors, but the wonderful city of St. Petersburg alike.  Bryan also founded, along with the City of St. Petersburg, the Neighborhood Landlord Alliance.  This organization is designed to help bridge the gap between local government, neighborhoods, and landlords.

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THE NOVEMBER BIG EVENT – BAY AREA APARTMENT ASSOCIATION TRADE SHOW  

On Wednesday, November 9, 2005 the Bay Area Apartment Association will be presenting its annual Trade Show at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa from 5:00 PM until 8:30 PM.  Don’t miss this great event!!
 

For more info, call 1 800-344-9373.

 

 

 

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THE FAIR HOUSING CORNER - ANYTHING SLIPPING THROUGH THE CRACKS? By Cathy L. Lucrezi, Attorney at Law

HUD’s newest administrative charge highlights how much can go wrong if there is poor transition between on-site managers.  The case was filed against a property management company who mishandled an application for more than eight months, never issuing an approval or denial of the application.

A disabled individual applied for a one bedroom apartment in August.  In December, he was approved by the corporate office but was not offered a unit.  He submitted all requested paperwork, some of it more than once.  Over the course of events, he was asked to submit new applications three times because the management office could not locate his file. No formal denial was ever issued by the management company, but the management company’s actions effectively prevented a qualified individual from moving into an apartment. The series of missteps was attributable, at least in part, to frequent changes in the on-site management.  Property managers did not last long at this property.  They seemed to “switch out” every three months or so.  Such a flux of office staff, along with the usual hectic activity of an on-site management office, caused the individual’s application to slip between the cracks. 

Whenever there is a change in staff, a plan should be made to assure a smooth transition.  Where a transition cannot be planned because it is happening quickly or without notice, the company must rely upon good records.  “Good records” means that someone has kept accurate records about what matters are ongoing and require immediate attention.  At the very minimum, files and other important documents should be safeguarded so they are not lost.

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In this issue:

Motion to Determine Rent

Sexual Predator Ordinances

FL Consumer Collections Act

Lease Quick Tip

Successful PM's Secret Tool

Industry Leader of the Month

BAAA Trade Show

Fair Housing Corner

 
 

November
Legal Holiday Alert

Do not forget to exclude these Legal Holidays when preparing your Three Day Notices in November 2005!

 11 - Veteran's Day

 24, 25 - Thanksgiving

 
 

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

 
 
 

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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