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LEGAL NEWS

Vol. 10 Issue 2


SPRING CLEANING TIME!

Joined your local NARPM Chapter yet? Have you delayed buying that new software again? Updated your notices and forms? Made sure your escrow accounting was 100% proper? Created that procedures manual so you can actually take a vacation and have your newly hired assistant handle problems the way you want them handled? Still sending out paper statements, writing checks and stuffing envelopes? The majority of property managers in Florida are single family home managers. Each runs his or her own “portfolio”, often without much interference or pressure from the broker. Get more professional, get organized, get your business in order, and stop procrastinating!  It is 2013 and some of you are operating the same as you were in the 90’s!

 

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E-FILING TO BECOME MANDATORY APRIL 1, 2013

Let the fun begin. After years of delays, the Florida court system is implementing a new electronic filing system, and we expect it to be a disaster initially. All our evictions will be prepared in the office and then transmitted to the court through a central E-Portal site.  Almost every single county in Florida has its own distinct system prepared by different vendors. We are 100% on top of this in training and technology, but there are a few things you should know.

 

Click here  to see how E-Filing will impact you.

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DROP BOX PROBLEMS

There has been a massive increase in rent drop box thefts in some areas of Florida. Organized crime is even suspected. Let’s face it. Your drop box is probably not as secure as the one at your local bank. Add to this the fact that so many residents fail to fill out the money orders and fail to keep their receipts, and you have a recipe for disaster.  If your drop box is not 100% secure, discontinue its use NOW, or pay the big bucks later.

 

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MOLD, BEDBUGS AND YOU

Our office gets calls about mold and bedbugs now almost on a daily basis. If you get a complaint by a resident, the unit must be tested by a certified professional immediately, often more than once. It all boils down to proof. Real proof. Not what you think is the case but what is the case. If there is dangerous mold or bedbugs, and you used the proper lease addenda, you may be able to terminate. If not, you have just put your owner at extreme risk and may be stuck with a nonpaying resident for a long time or a big lawsuit. Take these complaints seriously and deal with them immediately. Explain to your professional the importance of the tests and how the results may affect litigation. Finally, always educate the professional to NEVER speak with the resident about any findings. All information is between you and your certified professional.

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GETTING SLOPPY WITH THOSE NEW ACCOUNTS?

You take on a home to manage; it looks fine, and you get it rented.  The resident calls and tells you the sprinkler system is broke. Yes, it is. It has been for the last 10 years. The resident wants it fixed. The solar water heater breaks. A new one is $3000. The owner says, “No way”. The permanent gas grill is rusted out.  It will cost $600 for a new one, and the propane pipe is rotted. The pool heater does not work.  It hasn’t worked for 10 years, and will cost $4000 to replace. The fridge in the garage breaks. The resident wants it fixed. Unless items are specifically excluded from the lease, you may be stuck paying for the repair when your owner refuses. Take your time, examine the unit carefully, and use a checklist.

 

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RESIDENT DEATH REVISITED

With our aging population and the increasing number of deaths of residents of rental units, the property manager needs to understand exactly what to do when the time comes. While fortunately not an everyday occurrence for the manager, resident death will occur, and a number of issues will immediately come up and must be dealt with. Planning and learning now will make a very unpleasant experience a little less problematic and cut down on liability.

 

Click here  for an in-depth look at Resident Death Issues.
 

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ABANDONED PROPERTY DANGERS

You are cleaning out a unit due to an eviction or simply an abandonment situation and come across illegal items, pornography, weapons, drug paraphernalia, medications, sensitive financial documents and a box of hypodermic needles. Does this stuff go out to the street?

 

Click here to see how to safely deal with “odd” abandoned property.


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A NEW LEASE OR A RENEWAL PAGE

There are two ways to renew a lease. Prepare an entire new lease, or use a one page renewal. Both will legally renew the lease. The problem though is that by using a one page renewal, you are renewing the old lease which may not be legally up to date, or may even have provisions that conflict with your company’s current lease. Leases are often growing and changing documents. Before you take the easy route of the “one page renewal”, be certain the lease you are renewing is up to date and current.
 

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SINKHOLE RISK

Your owner told you that the property is in a sinkhole area, or you found out this information from someone else. Do you take on the account? Based on the recent sinkhole caused fatality here in Florida, you may not want to assume this risk. No disclaimer or release of liability signed by the resident or the owner will help you if you knew or should have known of the risk, and there is loss to person or property.  There are enough homes out there to manage. Avoid sinkhole properties!
 

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INDUSTRY LEADER OF THE MONTH - TIFFANY FERGUSON

Tiffany has been the Property Manager at Tanglewood Apartments in Pensacola, Florida for the past 10 years, where she is responsible for all aspects of property operations.  Her attention to detail, quality and her focus on customer loyalty are the centerpieces of her success.  During her tenure, the property has continually maintained high occupancy levels and resident loyalty.  She is well versed in leasing, marketing and financial aspects of property management.   She has been active in property management since 1998.  In 2009, Tiffany received the coveted "Manager of the Year Award” from the Emerald Coast Apartment Association for outstanding performance as manager of Tanglewood Apartments.  In 2010 and 2011, she received the "Community Volunteer of the Year Award”, presented by the Emerald Coast Apartment Association for her dedication and continual support of the association’s needs.

Tiffany has served as President for the Emerald Coast Apartment Association (2012 and 2013).  Prior to that, she served as Vice-President (2010, 2011), Director (2008, 2009) and Programs Committee Chair (2009 to 2011).  She is currently sitting on the Board of Directors for the Florida Apartment Association and is a Leadership Lyceum Candidate with anticipated graduation in April of this year. When not involved in property management, Tiffany enjoys spending time with her family in Perdido Key, Florida where she enjoys scrapbooking, boating and all aspects of family life in Florida.  One of her quiet passions is caring for Dazey, Bella, and Zoe, her 3 Australian Cattle Dogs, and taking care of her rose garden. A big thanks to Tiffany for her dedication!

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SELFSTORAGELEGAL.COM – Dealing with a “Blanket Subpoena”

So you are getting into the ever popular self storage business, and a heavily armed big guy from the FBI serves you with a subpoena asking for the names and addresses of every one of your unit renters. What do you? Panic? Give this private info out?

 

Click here for some valuable advice from the Self Storage Law Expert Jeff Greenberger.

 

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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

Legal Holidays
in May

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

05/27 - Memorial 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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37 N Orange Ave Suite 500, Orlando, FL 32801

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