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LEGAL NEWS

Vol. 9 Issue 2


2012 LEGISLATIVE DAYS WERE A SUCCESS

The Florida Apartment Association (FAA) Legislative Days on Feb 21 and 22 were a real hit this year with a record 144 attendees, many of them first timers who were able to visit every single Florida legislator or the legislator’s aide. FAA is closely monitoring four bills this year which could significantly impact property managers. Each year attendance has been breaking records, as FAA becomes the real force and voice of the Multi-Family Housing industry in the great state of Florida. If you could not make it this year, make it a priority for 2013!

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IMPORTANT NEW LAW THAT AFFECTS YOU

Beginning January 2012,   documents filed with the court can no longer include any social security numbers or bank account numbers. If they are on the documents, the clerk will have to “redact” or cross them out, resulting in delays.  It is crucial that none of this information appears on your lease or any related documents that may be filed with the court.  Be careful to safeguard this information in your files. Unless your attorney requests the information, which may occur in particular to confirm military status, do not send it to him or her by fax or email. Keep your documents clear, and avoid handwriting or highlighting anything on the lease, addenda or notices.

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LAURA HEISELMAN NAMED FAA GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS DIRECTOR

The Florida Apartment Association is proud to announce its new Government Affairs Director, Laura Heiselman.  Laura’s professional background is in Florida politics and government. She served as a lobbyist for the National Federation of Independent Business, a fundraiser and events coordinator for the Republican Party of Florida, and a member of Governor Jeb Bush’s Transition Team.  Most recently, Laura lead the fundraising efforts for United Arts of Central Florida, where she and her development committee successfully raised over 2.8 million dollars for the local arts community.  Laura is engaged in various civic and leadership organizations in the region and is a Board member of the Central Florida Partnership’s Young Professionals Advisory Council, a member of the Downtown Orlando Partnership, and is a Trustee at Lake Highland Preparatory School, serving as president of the Alumni Association. She has been a volunteer with Orange County Public Schools since 2006 and a lifelong parishioner of St. James Cathedral where she serves as a lector. In her leisure time, she enjoys cheering for her alma mater and the Yankees, spending time with family and experiencing arts and culture.  Ms. Heiselman obtained her Bachelor of Science degree from Florida State University with an emphasis in Political Science and Public Administration.  Please welcome Laura to the FAA team! Laura can be reached at laura@faahq.org.

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TRUSS MARKING RULE

Today the owner of your apartment community became irate. You explained to him that earlier in the day, the fire marshal stopped by to conduct a surprise inspection. Multiple fines were levied because the apartment community failed to have the proper truss marking signs. You explained to the fire marshal that you indeed had bought the signage and placed it on the buildings in accordance with the applicable rule, but that a resident or guest must have ripped them off. The fire marshal was unimpressed and issued some serious fines. What should you have done differently to avoid this horrible result? Should you conduct regular inspections? Should you keep extra signage in reserve?

Click here  to learn more about the Truss Marking Rule.

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RESIDENTS WORKING FROM HOME

More residents are either working from home using their computers or engaging in home based businesses. While your lease agreement may and should have a prohibition against conducting business from a rental unit, the reality is that many residents are indeed engaging in this activity. This activity will increase further as time goes on, and you must be prepared for the potential new and elevated liability to your company.  What is the legal result if an event either in your control or out of your control causes an interruption in a resident’s ability to work, or there is significant damage or destruction to some inventory related to the resident’s home based business? A proper addendum and policies are in order.

Click here  to see if you are protected from a residents Home Based Business.

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WRIT EXECUTION HOT TIP

Recently one of our clients executed a writ of possession with the Sheriff’s Deputy in attendance. Locks were changed, the Sheriff’s deputy was about to leave, and lo and behold, an alert manager discovered that the tenant was still in the bathtub hidden behind the shower curtain. He had attempted suicide and was near death. When executing a writ, ALWAYS check each room, all closets, bathrooms, garage, crawlspaces, attic and even the refrigerator.  Never assume that a unit is vacant, and if you have any concerns or worries, ask the Sheriff’s Deputy to remain for some time, or call your local police department if applicable. The Sheriff has the ability to charge you extra for this service, but most of the time will not. Writ execution can be a volatile time; be careful.

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A PROPERTY MANAGER IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES?

Aaron Bosshardt is currently a candidate for the Florida State House of Representatives. He is a family man, and a property manager in his company,  Bosshardt Property Management.  Aaron has been a longstanding member of the National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM), the Institute of Real Estate Managers (IREM), and the Florida Apartment Association (FAA). He serves on various committees and panels for all three organizations and is a strong believer in giving back to his profession and his community, as evidenced by the strong philanthropic tradition of the entire Bosshardt family of companies. As a Representative, Aaron will have a hands-on understanding of the issues facing property managers and the Florida real estate market. His dedication and professional credentials would be an asset to our industry, and is exactly what is needed in the Florida Legislature.

Click here  to go to Aaron’s website.

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OWN AN S-CORP, PA or LLC?

We all get notified in Florida by email or US mail that our State Annual Report is due, but the IRS is not so “user friendly”.  Many property managers are incorporated and are operating as an S-Corp, an LLC or also commonly a PA. It is crucial to remember that the deadline for filing your tax return or an extension to file, my preferred method, is March 15, NOT April 15.  The IRS has become increasingly vigilant in penalizing companies who do not file on time. The penalty has increased dramatically, and a simple mistake is often hard to get out of. Don’t forget to file your return or file the extension!  The IRS is watching you. Talk with your accountant if you feel you can’t meet the deadlines.

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REMEDIES UNDER THE EARLY TERMINATION OF LEASE LAW

Today you heard from an attorney representing one of your former residents who has filed a small claims lawsuit against your management company. This resident broke the lease and vacated the apartment home three months prior to the lease expiration date. A few weeks after the lease was signed, the resident called and asked if he could sign the early termination of lease addendum.  You allowed him to do so, and he elected to be responsible for two months’ rent should he break the lease. Now the attorney is claiming that your charge is invalid, since the addendum was not executed at the time of lease signing. Is this true?

Click here  to obtain a thorough understanding of the Early Termination Law law.

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COMMERCIAL LAW AND YOU: CONDITIONAL SALES AGREEMENTS, LANDLORD’S LIEN, AND UCC-1

Are you a frustrated commercial landlord or property manager facing a defaulting tenant whose only assets are the items of personal property left at the unit? Are you also faced with competing claims by third parties who have claims against your defaulting tenant, and furthermore these same parties are claiming an interest in the defaulting tenant's abandoned personal property, which may be your only source of recovery to mitigate your own damages? One of the most important questions about abandoned equipment is what legal interest takes priority: a landlord’s lien, a UCC-1 filing, or a conditional sales agreement?  Fortunately, landlords have been afforded a statutory protection under Florida Statute 83.08, the landlord’s lien.  This lien has super priority over third party claimants who have not properly protected their interest. Click below to read the article on how you can assert your landlord lien's rights as against these competing claimants.

Click here  to see “Conditional Sales Agreements, Landlord's Lien, and UCC-1" by Kara Jurinski of Kevin F. Jursinski and Associates.

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Commercial Law and You

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