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LEGAL NEWS - OCTOBER 2007


THE APARTMENT POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE (APAC)

2008 is an election year, and now more than ever we need the voice of the multi-family housing industry heard in Tallahassee. The Florida Apartment Association through APAC helps make that voice heard loud and clear through the contributions of property managers, owners, developers and vendors. Whether it be $25.00 or $2500.00, your contribution to APAC helps preserve and protect this industry and gives us the much needed access to those who make the laws. The industry is facing a number of challenges, such as rising insurance rates and taxes, which are having devastating effects.

To learn more about APAC and how to donate, simply
click here.

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KEYS AND POSSESSION

Many property managers consider the return of keys as the date that the tenant gives possession. When the key return occurs, they begin to count the 15 or 30 days as required by law for returning the security deposit or making the claim. Sounds reasonable, right?  Wrong. This method of determining the possession date gets countless property managers in trouble, as the tenant argues about the key return or key return date, resulting in potential accusations of a violation of the security deposit claim/return laws. Is this your policy?

Click here to see  how the return of keys often doesn’t mean a thing.

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RENTAL FURNITURE

Many tenants abandon the premises or get evicted leaving rental furniture behind.  Most property managers know how to deal with the property in these situations. A less common situation occurs when the furniture rental company calls the property manner or shows up at the office asking the property manager to allow them access to the unit to retrieve the furniture for which the tenant has not paid. Do you oblige? Can you let the representative from the rental furniture company in the unit? Suppose the eviction will be served on Monday morning. Is there any obligation to the rental company?

Click here to brush up on dealing with rental furniture and the tenant.

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DEALING WITH THE BELLIGERENT TENANT IN YOUR OFFICE

Your tenant is unhappy that the rent is going up or that you are non-renewing them. He storms into your office, spewing profanities and acting aggressively towards you. An applicant is sitting at your desk filling out the application and runs out in horror, never to be seen again. The tenant departs with a threatening remark, slamming your door so hard a picture falls off the wall. Sound like a familiar scene?

Click here for some tips on dealing with the belligerent tenant in your office.

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STUDENT PROPERTY ALERT

Many of our clients manage student properties in which the student rents a bedroom and shares the common areas, such as the living room, kitchen and bath. Unfortunately, students get evicted, and the sheriff must come to the premise and give possession. While some deputies are easy- going and flexible, others will demand that the door to the student’s bedroom is clearly marked with the number or letter. Please do not let your guard down or rely on the deputy you may have had in the past. Put the identifying numbers or letters on the door ASAP to avoid a costly time-consuming delay.

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THE TENANT IS DISPUTING THE SECURITY DEPOSIT CLAIM - NOW WHAT?

Invariably a property manager will make a claim on the security deposit, send out the notice by certified mail, and the tenant will dispute the claim.  The manager receives a long drawn out letter demanding part or all of the security deposit money. The property manager panics. Does she need to respond? Should she? Can she send the account to collections?  Must FREC be notified?

Click here to see how to handle the dispute.

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QUICK TIP: LEASE WORDING - TELEPHONE JACKS

If an electrical outlet is not working, it would most likely be the landlord’s responsibility, but what about a telephone jack? Often a telephone jack is present in a room or rooms but does not work. Whose responsibility is this? Quite possibly, the tenant is relying on the jack to be working in a particular room. If you are not sure the jack works and do not want a dispute over the issue, make it clear in the lease that you do not guarantee any telephone jacks to work, and that they would be the tenant’s responsibility.

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SELFSTORAGELEGAL.COM - Allowing a Spouse of a Tenant into the Storage Unit

There may come a time when you have to start the lien process against a delinquent tenant who is going through a divorce and whose spouse is not on the lease contract. For example, a tenant/wife took some of her stuff and left town. The husband who is not on the contract appears and wants you to give him access, as he has a ton of items stored in the unit. Most likely you would not give him access, and you would be correct. The problem occurs if you don’t receive payment from the wife/tenant, forcing you to go through the lien process: are you then allowed to let him in and sell the goods back to him?

Click here to read Self Storage Law expert attorney Jeffrey Greenberger’s article “Allowing a Spouse of a Tenant into the Storage Unit.
 

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COMMERCIAL LAW AND YOU - Landlord and Tenant Obligation for Premises Build-Out, Maintenance and Repair

Unlike a residential setting in which there are statutory provisions identifying specific obligations of the Landlord and Tenant as to maintenance and repair, in a commercial lease setting, the obligations as between Landlord and Tenant for premises build-out, maintenance and repair are a matter of contractual obligations to be entered into between the parties. Care needs to be given for each and every one of these specific areas of obligations, both as to the Landlord and Tenant. The last thing you want is a surprise or a misunderstanding that ends up in litigation.

Click here for info on how to deal with tenant build out, maintenance and repairs by attorney Kevin Jursinski.
 

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

The word “harassment” is over-worked.  Although it commonly refers to anything that bothers us, fair housing law gives the word a very specific meaning that every landlord should understand.  Besides the unlawful use of racial epithets, harassment includes any activity that targets a tenant because of the tenant being a member of a protected class.  Are you savvy to spotting it and preventing it?
 

Click here for the scoop on Harassment.
 

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In this issue:

APAC

Keys and Possession

Rental Furniture

Belligerent Tenant in Office

Student Property Alert

Sec. Deposit Claim Dispute

Telephone Jacks

Self-Storage Units

Commercial Law and You

Fair Housing Corner

 
 

November
Legal Holiday Alert

Don't forget to exclude these Legal Holidays when preparing your Three Day Notices in November  2007!

12 - Veteran's Day

22, 23 - Thanksgiving

 
   

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

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