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LEGAL NEWS

Vol. 10 Issue 1


BILLS ARE BEING FILED RIGHT NOW

January 2013 was off to one of the most active starts, with quite a few bills being filed in Tallahassee dealing with rentals and property management. As of this writing, HB77, HB169, HB481, SB106, SB104 and SB704 all have something to do with the rental housing industry. Keep in close contact with your apartment association, REALTOR®’s board or association, or National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM), and stay involved this year. If you have not contributed to the Apartment Political Action Committee (APAC) or the Realtor’s Political Action Committee, RPAC it is never too late.

 

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ACCESS GATE ISSUES

You proudly had an access gate installed on the property that is now prominently displayed in all your advertisements. The problem is that it keeps breaking. The last time it broke, four cars got broken into, and two irate residents want to break their leases.  Can they?  Access gates are an amenity that can end up causing serious headaches, as they can and will fail. How you initially deal with your resident and the addendum you use can have a profound impact on your liability.
 

Click here  to see how to keep your access gate a valuable amenity and not a burden.

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FORGOT THAT LEGAL HOLIDAY AGAIN?

Every year evictions are delayed with time and money wasted because the property manager failed to exclude a legal holiday when calculating the Three-Day Notice expiration date.  Luckily, your attorney catches this, but it is already too late. You have to prepare and re-serve the Three-Day Notice.  There really is no good excuse for this. Our firm gives you the Three-Day Notice list at the beginning of the year, and on each Newsletter, we alert you to the next two months of legal holidays.  Does it work? Well, not always. Take the time to boldly mark the court observed legal holidays on your calendar, or set this up in your computer program. Many programs like Microsoft Outlook can alert you to this simple but important matter so it is not forgotten.

 

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LATE CHARGES

Last year, you called your attorney who warned you not to impose excessive late fees. Your corporate office raised your late charges anyway, because it believed there was no specific limit in Florida. Today, you had an eviction hearing, and the judge ruled for the resident because your late fees were deemed to be unconscionable by the judge. The resident had failed to pay $600 rent for the month of January, but the late fees were $420 due to late charges still owed from recent months as well as January late charges, so the total amount demanded on the Three-Day Notice was $1020.  You wonder how the judge could have denied your eviction when late fees are defined as rent in your rental agreement, and there is no exact limit as to the amount of late charges that can be billed. You are also unsure what the word unconscionable means.

 

Click here  to learn more about the proper use of late charges.

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GFI SAFETY AND LIABILITY

You recently took over a home or an apartment community to manage.  You did not receive any complaints from the residents about electrical issues, but one day a resident is electrocuted when she grabbed the hair dryer which fell into the full sink. Your resident brought a stand up light by the pool area, the dog tripped over it, the light fell into the pool, and the resident was electrocuted.  Could this all have been prevented? Are you potentially liable for the failure of a house or apartment to have properly working GFI outlets? Most likely you are, and the liability to the property management company, manager and or/owner is huge. Speak to your electrician today, and have your properties inspected before it is too late. You will find many units not in compliance with code, and this must be rectified immediately. Just because an outlet works does not mean it is the proper outlet.

 

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HOW DID YOU SERVE THAT NOTICE?

Our office has noticed a growing and serious trend lately regarding notices, specifically service of the Three-Day Notice. The certificate of service section at the bottom of the notice indicates one thing, but in reality, the notice was NOT served the way the certificate of service section states. Did the manager serve it? Maintenance tech?  Assistant?  Was it posted or hand delivered? An inaccurate certificate of service is really the same as lying to the court. Want some fun? Have the judge find out in court that what you or a staff member wrote on the Three-Day Notice and what really happened were two different things.

 

Click here  to learn if you are filling out your Three Day Notice correctly.
 

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NO – WE DON’T TAKE SECTION 8

A statement like this by a frazzled property manager having a bad day could easily be interpreted as, “We don’t want poor people living here” and can develop quickly into a discrimination claim. Do you have a list of nearby properties or companies that do take Section 8? If not, you should create one, and this could be handed in a friendly fashion to a person who is making inquiry of you.  Additionally, you may explain that the Section 8 program is just not something your company is set up to deal with, as most people on Section 8 do not understand what the landlord must do when dealing with the program, and may not understand why you would not participate in the Section 8 program.


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INDUSTRY LEADER OF THE MONTH - BECKY DOTSON

Becky Dotson is the Community Leader at The Retreat at Magnolia Parke, a Mid America apartment community located in Gainesville, Florida.  Becky currently holds her CAM designation and   Florida real estate license. She has been in the industry since she was in high school, when she started out as a part-time leasing agent. She has been instrumental in the smooth transition of several of MAA’s newest acquisitions and in helping oversee other communities. Becky has been on the Board of Directors of the North Central Florida Apartment Association (NCFAA) since 2008. She is an active member with the association, serving on the trade show committee, membership committee, legislative committee and the annual holiday party committee.  NCFAA proudly named her their Management Volunteer of the Year at the 2012 FAA Education Conference & Trade Show. On the state level, Becky represents the NCFAA on the Florida Apartment Association’s (FAA) board of directors since 2011. She was a part of the third graduating class of the Leadership Lyceum with FAA in October of 2011.  Becky serves on the legislative committee and APAC.  In her personal time Becky volunteers for a local cat rescue in the Ocala/Gainesville area. She has fostered and placed over 125 cats in their new forever homes, spending countless weekends helping with adoptions at the local Petsmarts.  Becky enjoys traveling and spending great times with her friends and family. Becky is live music fan and follows several local bands to different venues, or can be found traveling all over to see the bigger named stars when she can. She loves to watch football and attends as many games as she can in person. She is an avid Gator fan and loves the Jaguars too. Originally from the Maryland/DC area, she is forever loyal to her home teams from that area: the Washington Redskins, Maryland Terps and the Baltimore Ravens.
 

Thanks for all you do Becky!!!


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NEW NARPM CHAPTER IN SOUTHWEST FLORIDA?

It looks like a group of property managers may be reviving the National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM) Chapter for the Southwest Florida area. If you manage property in Lee, Collier or Hendry Counties, stay informed, as the revival of the NARPM chapter will bring plenty of educational, networking and social opportunities to the residential property manager. Want to help out or be one of the first members? Shoot us an email at harry@evict.com.  To be sure not to miss any news on this, join NARPM now by going to www.narpm.org


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THE FAIR HOUSING LADY – NADEEN GREEN

Naadeen Green has been an attorney since 1979. She has taught Fair Housing law to the multi-family housing industry since the Fair Housing Amendments Act went into effect in 1989. Nadeen is known nationwide as an expert, and she is proud to be Senior Counsel with For Rent Media Solutions.

 

Click here  to see Nadeen’s Fair Housing Q&A for this month!


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COMMERCIAL LAW AND YOU – Issues Facing Commercial Landlords and Commercial Tenants in Tenant's Sale of Business – Part 1

Often times, an existing tenant with time left on its lease wants to sell its current business to a third-party purchaser and the third-party purchaser wants to negotiate a new lease with the landlord. There are many avoidable issues that arise and significant problems which can occur.

 

Click here  for “Issues Facing Commercial Landlords and Commercial Tenants in Tenant's Sale of Business – Part 1”  by attorney Kevin F. Jursinski.

 

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Commercial Law and You

Legal Holidays
in
February and March

Don't forget to exclude these Legal Holidays when preparing your Three Day Notices in February and March 2013!

02/18 - Presidents' Day
03/29 - Good Friday

 

USEFUL LINKS:










 

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

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