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LEGAL NEWS

Vol. 10 Issue 4


NEW LANDLORD/TENANT LAWS IN EFFECT

For the first time in many years, some substantial changes were made to the Florida Landlord/Tenant Act. While none are earth-shattering or require you to make any major changes, they are nonetheless important, and will require some adjustments to your lease. For the most part, the changes are fair and reasonable, and may help clear up some grey areas that have been plaguing property managers and attorneys alike. We have provided two explanatory articles, one applicable to the single family home manager and the other to the multi-family home manager. Questions? Feel free to give us a call anytime at 1 800 253 8428 or email any of the attorneys at info@evict.com. The changes to the Act were a result of many groups coming together and working in a coordinated effort to solve some problems, and we thank Senator Stargel and her staff for all the hard work put into this law that was over two years in the making.


Click here  for the multi-family home explanation.
Click here  for the single-family home explanation.

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PROVIDING THE LANDLORD/TENANT ACT TO THE RESIDENT

Recently a Q and A article appeared in the Florida REALTOR magazine that seemed to indicate that a property manager must provide a copy of the full Residential Landlord Tenant Act Section 83, Part 2 to the residents upon lease signing. This is only PARTIALLY correct. ONLY if you use the Supreme Court Approved a/k/a FAR/BAR Lease are you required to provide the resident with the Act. If your attorney prepares your lease, it is completely unnecessary to give the resident a copy of the law.

 

Click here  if you would like to download the Full Residential Landlord/ Tenant Act Part II in a PDF format.

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TWO HUGE EVENTS ARE COMING UP FAST

The Florida Apartment Association (FAA) Education Conference and Trade Show is scheduled for October 16th -18th. If you are a multi-family manager, owner, developer or supplier, this is your convention. If you manage single family homes, duplexes, triplexes and other smaller rentals, the State Chapter of the National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM) is gearing up for the next annual  convention at the Westin in Lake Mary September 19th – 20th

 

Click here to register for the FAA Convention.

Click here to register for NARPM State Chapter Convention.

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TERMINATING A VENDOR CONTRACT

Often a vendor just does not quite “work out”. It may be carpet cleaner, landscaper or any other outside vendor you may be using. You notify your regional manager who tells you to “fire the vendor”, and you then notify the vendor that their services are no longer needed. However, the problem is that terminating a contract often requires following the detailed terms and conditions governing termination within the contract.  Possibly there is a curative period, penalty to be paid, special type of notice, or a specific number of days’ notice is required. Failure to follow the contract terms could result in the contract continuing or your company having to pay for work that is no longer being done. Remember that most vendor contracts were written by the attorney for the vendor, so beware!

 

Click here  for some tips on how to terminate a vendor properly.

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DROP BOX EPIDEMIC

At no time have we seen so many drop box break-ins as now. Many companies have made the decision to stop accepting payments through drop boxes.  Changing policies overnight is never easy, but you need to scare the residents into believing that if they continue to pay by drop boxes or sliding payments under the door, they may risk having to pay twice. Will a judge agree with you?  The stricter you are about changing your policy, and the better notice you give to your residents, will aid in a judge not being sympathetic to the resident who claims payment has been made.  If you have a drop box breach, call your attorney ASAP, as many residents will try to take advantage of this situation when or if they find out, causing an even larger problem.

 

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ELECTRONIC PAYMENTS AND OTHER TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCES

Over the years, technology has enabled property managers to concentrate on many more important items, often saving time and money and increasing efficiency. Many residents are paying online. Many are emailing service requests or communicating solely by email. Some leases now actually demand these procedures. There is a slight problem though. Not all people have access to computers, nor do they want computer access. Some have handicaps that prevent them from utilizing the basic technology we often take for granted. Is it potentially discriminatory to force someone to use a computer to pay a bill or contact you? Are you giving them some alternatives? Already, there are class action lawsuits being filed in other states on behalf of individuals who are being forced to use technology to pay online or communicate with the property manager. Get your Fair Housing advice from your Fair Housing expert ASAP.

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FALLING THOUGH AN ATTIC FLOOR? – WHAT?

So for whatever reason, your resident decides to go up into the attic or crawl space. Maybe for additional storage, or they hear something running around. Maybe they see a leak. They either open up the folding ladder and head on up or somehow hoist themselves up into the attic, where one small misstep off of a joist results in the resident falling through the ceiling into the middle of the living room floor, dislocating a shoulder or sustaining an even worse injury in the process. Is there liability to you or the property owner? Possibly. Every unit needs to be checked NOW to make sure that your residents cannot get up into the attic or crawlspace. This may mean placing a lock on each and every attic or crawlspace door, and possibly even placing a clause in the lease under which the resident agrees not to access the attic or crawlspaces under any circumstances.

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RED FLAGS

Over the years, a seasoned property manager is able to spot red flags quite easily. Examples? The resident who wants to move in right away, the applicant who does not want a spouse signing as a tenant but listed as an occupant only, the resident who wants to immediately improve the property, making all kinds of promises, and the resident who suddenly does not have the security deposit. There are many indeed. One big red flag is the applicant who wants an attorney to review the lease before it is signed. While it is always prudent for anyone to fully understand a legal document before signing it, in almost every single case, an attorney who usually has no experience in landlord/tenant law will come back with a plethora of changes to YOUR lease. Note the emphasis? This is YOUR lease. While you don’t want small, insignificant changes to kill a deal, deviating from your standard lease can cause greater problems later on, plus is usually a sign of a “trouble” resident. Once the lease is signed, things generally don’t get better, they get worse.

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UNDERSTANDING THE POWER OF ATTORNEY

Two weeks ago, you advised an applicant for one of your homes that her application had been approved. The applicant did not come to your office to sign the lease. Instead, a man named Reginald came to your office the next day and said that the applicant could not be present at the lease signing. However, Reginald told you that he had power of attorney for the applicant.  The power of attorney document was illegible and was not accepted by you. Yesterday your corporate office received notice that a lawsuit was filed, because you did not provide a written reason for the rejection of the power of attorney, and the attorney is suing for damages, including attorney’s fees. Did you follow the NEW law? What is going on here?

 

Click here  to learn how to comply with recent law changes when a power of attorney is presented to you.

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THE RESIDENT WHO REFUSES TO SIGN THE RENEWAL LEASE

One of the most common questions we get is how to get the existing resident to sign the renewal lease. Often delay is caused, creating uncertainty for you and the property owner. Can the resident hold you hostage like this? Yes, unless you take action and serve the resident with a notice of non-renewal. The proper notice of non-renewal can accomplish a number of tasks: (1) it can offer the resident a lease for another year; (2) it can give a deadline for signing the lease and getting it back to you, and (3) if the deadline passes, it can serve as a proper notice of non-renewal. Remember, you are the boss, not the resident.

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ONE PAGE LEASE RENEWALS

With the law change that went into effect on July 1, 2013, you do not want to use a one page renewal lease. While a one page renewal will renew an existing or expiring lease, the new law requires new wording, and beginning January 1, 2014 will require a brand new disclosure to the lease.  If you insist on renewing a lease by using a one page renewal, make sure that the new wording and the new security deposit disclosure is also included.

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COMMERCIAL LAW AND YOU – Our Commercial Real Estate Recovery: Lease Workouts And Pitfalls

The commercial real estate economy in Florida is showing signs of recovery.  Now, there are opportunities available to both landlords and tenants to remedy defaults.   Are you familiar with information concerning your respective rights and how to avoid unintended consequences? Knowledge is power!

 

Click here  for a discussion of “Lease Workouts and Pitfalls” by attorney Kevin Jursinski.

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NEW MATERIAL FOR YOUR NEWSLETTER

Most members of the various local Apartment Associations are familiar with our Q&A Columns that appear in their monthly or bi-monthly newsletters. We now will be providing one for your local NARPM Chapter, Association, Board of REALTORS or property management group. Feel free to publish them as you see fit, and we are always open to ideas for questions and topics!

 

Click here  for Issue #1.

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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 Article for this month!


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Commercial Law and You

Legal Holidays
in September

Don't forget to exclude this Legal Holiday when preparing your Three Day Notices in September 2013!

09/02 - Labor Day

 

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

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Law Office of Heist, Weisse & Wolk, P.A.

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Phone: 1-800-253-8428     Fax: 1-800-367-9038