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LEGAL NEWS

Vol. 8 Issue 12


2012 LEGISLATIVE DAYS ARE AROUND THE CORNER

Each year members of the Florida Apartment Association (FAA) attend Legislative Day in Tallahassee.  This is the time when we meet with our lobbying team and our legislators while they are in session to voice our concerns and show our presence in the state of Florida.  Although this year we are not yet dealing with any real controversial bills, two bills have been introduced which directly impact the industry, and we must go to Tallahassee to have our voices heard. Don’t let your guard down this year and decide not to attend. Sign up now and reserve your hotel room. Each year, attendance has been up, and we cannot become complacent in 2012.  FAA members from all over Florida will be attending, and the AAGO and BAAA buses will be filling fast.

To register for FAA's Legislative Days, click here.

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THE ABANDONED CABLE BOX AND REMOTE

Nothing is left in the surrendered or abandoned unit except for the cable box and a remote. Toss them in the trash? We don’t recommend you do so. While you are under no legal obligation to make this call, we strongly recommend that you contact the cable company, notify them that you have the box and remote, and see if they want it. Abandoned property can be tricky, especially if your lease does not have the proper abandoned property clause. Just for fun, check your lease right now, and see if the updated abandoned property clause is in the lease. Compare yours to the current statute carefully, as the statute changed a few years ago.

Click here  to see the latest wording in Florida Statute 83.67.

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AGREEMENT TO VACATE

The manager would like to have a resident who is not complying with the lease move.  If possible, the manager wants to avoid the time and expense of an eviction.  If she can convince the resident to move, she wants to have a definite vacating date and be able to enforce it.  If she does enforce it in court, she wants to avoid a court battle over the various lease noncompliances that caused her to request that he move.  Lastly, she doesn’t want to release the resident from financial liability under the lease.  Is this too much to hope for?

Click here  for how to use an Agreement to Vacate.

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THE LEASE BREAK BY THE RESIDENT

Your lease allows your apartment community to charge the resident who breaks a lease for unpaid rent through the lease expiration date, or until you are able to relet the unit, and in addition any shortfall due to the replacement resident’s rent being less than the former resident’s rent. You told Kristy, a resident who broke her lease and moved to North Dakota, that she would be responsible for the rent until the apartment was relet. It turns out that due to market conditions, the rent paid by the new resident is 30% less than Kristy’s rent. You still charged Kristy for the rent shortfall, but she claims that you misled her. She sued your company, and the judge agreed with her. What is going on?

Click here  to obtain information on how to communicate with the resident who plans to break their lease.

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TOWING DANGERS

The towing of vehicles can result in serious legal issues. Beside the fact that towing of vehicles is governed by confusing Florida law and the wording in your lease agreement, very few actions evoke a more emotional and sometime violent response than the towing of a resident’s vehicle or the resident’s guest’s vehicle.  A common mistake is that property managers think that placing a sticker on a vehicle has some kind of legal significance. It usually does not. Towing should be done as a last resort, never because you are angry, and always with the advice of your attorney before the tow. Calling your attorney first, rather than having to ask him or her to go to court with you after you have been sued, is always advisable.

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REQUIRING NOTICE PRIOR TO THE LEASE EXPIRATION DATE

Two former residents, Tammy and Bob, both received collection notices and are disputing the charges. Tammy rented a one bedroom apartment and vacated two months ago when her lease ended; she only gave 30 days’ notice.  Bob leased a two bedroom apartment home and vacated when his lease expired last month without any prior notice.  Your lease requires residents to provide at least 60 days’ notice of an intent not to renew coinciding with the lease expiration date.  Both of these former residents are disputing your insufficient notice penalty, claiming that Florida law requires a landlord to provide a specific written reminder before being able to assess insufficient notice penalties contained within the lease.  Can you penalize Bob more than Tammy for giving no notice?  Are either or both of these residents correct?

 

Click here  to learn more about requiring notice prior to the lease end date.

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TIME TO LET GO OF SOME OWNERS?

As we move into the 2012, it is important to evaluate the single family homeowners that you represent. Are they giving you money to make repairs? Are they in or near foreclosure? Are you spending time trying to get them to pay their condo fees? Have they let their insurance lapse for nonpayment? Are they eating up all your time?  Is it REALLY worth the $75 commission you receive each month if you are lucky?  Ask yourself these questions, evaluate the situation, and possibly terminate your relationship in accordance with your management agreement. Take your newfound freedom and market for new quality accounts.

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SEVEN DAY NOTICE QUICK TIP

When a resident is committing a “curable noncompliance” in which an action or inaction is in violation of the lease or law,  that resident must be served a Seven Day Notice of Noncompliance With Opportunity to Cure. A common mistake is for the manager to take a clause from the lease and paste it into the Seven Day Notice wording section. This is completely incorrect and will usually render the notice invalid. You must tell the resident how the law or lease is being violated, not simply recite the lease clause or applicable section of the law.  Better yet, have your attorney prepare the wording of the notice for you, so not only will the wording be correct, but your attorney will be involved from the beginning.

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COMMERCIAL LAW AND YOU – FLORIDA COMMERCIAL COMMISSION LEASING ACT: HOW TO PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS TO YOUR COMMISSION

You spent hours of time negotiating with the parties, incurring significant advertising expenses and attorney fees, and finally put together a high dollar, long term commercial rental deal. A huge commission is going to come your way, when you find out to your surprise that the property owner decides not to pay you. Unlike in a sales transaction, you have no escrow money from which to draw your commission, and now you are faced with having to sue the landlord you represented. In 2005, legislation was passed which protects you from this predicament, BUT without following the proper procedures, the protection is GONE. Do you know how to protect yourself and get paid?

Click here  to see “How to protect your rights to your Commission” by attorney Jason W. Holtz of Kevin F. Jursinski and Associates.

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January
Legal Holiday Alert

Don't forget to exclude these Legal Holidays when preparing your Three Day Notices in January 2012!

Jan. 2 - New Year's Day

Jan. 16 - Dr. Martin Luther
King Jr. Day

Commercial Law and You

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