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LEGAL NEWS

Vol. 7 Issue 12


PROCEDURE/CHECKLIST CREATION AND REVIEW TIME

The majority of mistakes we deal with are either caused by or made worse by the property manager’s actions or inactions. Sad but true.  In many instances these unfortunate situations could have been avoided by the use of checklists and established procedures.  Application and approval, move in, eviction, repairs, unit entry, move outs, security deposit claim procedures, the list goes on and on. The more we try to rely upon our memory, the more avoidable mistakes will be made, some at great expense. It takes time and effort to put your day to day activities into a checklist form, but once done AND if the checklists are used, managing property becomes a far easier and less stressful profession.

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EXCLUDING BANKRUPTCY PROTECTION IN A LEASE

Many of our clients want us to place a clause in the lease that provides in the event the resident files bankruptcy, the landlord will be excluded from the effects of the bankruptcy, and that the resident cannot use the bankruptcy as a way to stop or suspend paying the rent. Sounds like a great idea but it is not possible. If it were possible, then every creditor would have this type of clause in their contracts. These clauses are completely unenforceable. All landlords take a risk that their residents may file bankruptcy, and there is simply nothing you can do about it. If you receive notice that your resident has filed bankruptcy, call your attorney immediately.   

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NON-RENEWING THE MONTH-TO-MONTH RESIDENT

Last month we addressed concrete examples of how a resident must properly non-renew a month to month tenancy. However, let’s face it; when residents want to leave, they are going to leave, and most will not follow the legal procedures. Are you going to sue the residents? Doubtful. Collect money? No. On the other hand, if YOU fail to give residents  proper notice of non-renewal, and they fail to vacate, you may be in a situation in which you cannot force the residents to vacate or file an eviction.  You must start all over again from scratch, losing precious time, losing other residents or creating huge problems for your owners.

Click here  to see concrete examples of non-renewing the resident and how it is done.

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A YEAR END REVIEW WITH AN EYE TOWARDS 2011

If property managers had the luxury of having a crystal ball, they would see that the mistakes that are continuing to be made day after day would come back to haunt them. Because of our vast experience, our firm can in effect see into the future. We know that seemingly small errors can easily kill an eviction lawsuit. If you needed a knee replacement, you would consult with your doctor; you would not perform the operation yourself. Yet everyday, property managers improperly attempt to terminate leases by drafting defective Seven–Day notices instead of using an attorney. Are there other common situations that you can consult with your attorney on but instead dangerously choose to go it alone?

Click here  to see which other mistakes you can easily correct as 2011 approaches.

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THE REQUIREMENT TO PROVIDE HEAT

Florida Statutes Section 83.51 requires the landlord to provide “functioning facilities to provide heat during winter”. Interestingly enough, no specific reference is made regarding air conditioning in the same statutory section.  The problem many landlords face is the air conditioning unit which also functions as the heater or the old style in-wall heaters in some units do not work, are extremely expensive to repair, or cannot be repaired at all.  The law is clear. The landlord must provide heat. Whether this means that the heater unit must be repaired or replaced, or that the resident be provided with safe space heaters, is not always clear, but take action immediately, or the resident may legally withhold rent or break the lease.

 

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ACCESS BY THE LANDLORD

A landlord has tried to contact the resident by phone for two days without success.  He needs to enter the rental to replace a running toilet.  Another landlord sent a vendor to the rental to repair and replace loose kitchen tiles.  The resident refused the vendor entry, because he wasn’t given any notice.  A third landlord received a call from a concerned neighbor that the electric appeared to be off in the rental.  A check with the power company by the landlord confirmed this.  Each landlord needs access to the rental.  When can the landlord enter, and how much notice to the tenant is required?
 

Click here  to learn the guidelines governing landlord access.

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POOLS AND LIABILITY RELEASES - FORGET IT

Landlords often fear that if they rent to parties with children and there is a pool present on the property, their liability in the event of death of or injury to a child warrants either refusal to rent, or that the adults must sign a release of liability in the event of an accident. While this may seem rational or even prudent, it is a direct violation of federal fair housing laws against discrimination due to familial status. Familial status means “children”, and an attempt to make the adults “release you from liability” really is an attempt to “take away the right” a person has to sue you in the event your negligence caused a death or injury.  Worried about the pool? Investigate an umbrella insurance policy or raise your insurance policy limits. Often the cost is negligible for significantly more coverage.

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In this issue:

Procedure/Checklist Creation

Bankruptcy Protection

Non-Renewing the Resident

A Year-End Review

Requirement to Provide Heat

Access by The Landlord

Pool and Liability

 

Commercial Law and You

January
Legal Holiday Alert

Don't forget to exclude this Legal Holiday when preparing your Three Day Notices in January 2011!

17 - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Birthday

 

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Monthly e-newsletter of the
Law Offices of Heist, Weisse & Wolk, P.A.

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