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LEGAL NEWS

Vol. 8 Issue 5


2011 HURRICANE SEASON – ARE YOU PREPARED?

June 1, 2011 marks the official beginning of hurricane season for 2011.  Do you have your mold remediation, water extraction professional and roofer on speed dial? Business interruption insurance? Do your owners expect you to take precautionary steps that are not detailed in your management agreement, such as installing the storm shutters? Is your data being safely backed up each night offsite? Do you have a spare computer loaded, up to date and ready to go?  This year may bring “the big one”, so it is crucial that you have procedures in place and a disaster preparedness plan in case of possible damage or destruction of your rental units or your office. Having a plan could determine whether you still are in business after a major storm.  Ask yourself this simple question; “If my entire office were to be destroyed tomorrow, how soon could I be back up and running?”
 

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IS THE UNIT OURS YET?

One of the most difficult aspects of property management is determining when the residents have abandoned or surrendered the rental.  The property manager many find the keys in the drop box and nothing else.  Sometimes a roommate will drop off the keys and claim to be surrendering the rental premises for everyone.  The manager will inspect a rental and find all the clothes gone and only junk furniture remaining.  Neighbors assure the manager that the residents loaded everything in a U-Haul and left town.  When is it safe to take back possession of the rental premises?   

Click here  to learn more about properly determining when a rental premises has been surrendered or abandoned.

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THE RESIDENT IN BANKRUPTCY

You learned yesterday that Chad, an applicant, has an active Chapter 13 Bankruptcy case. Also, your long time resident Cameron has been dealing with some personal financial issues and has been paying the rent late. You served him with a Three-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Deliver Possession this month, and the notice has expired. You were planning to send his file to your eviction attorney, when Cameron dropped off a weird notice prepared by his attorney called a suggestion of bankruptcy. Cameron told you that you may not evict him based on the law.  You try to figure out what is going on.  Will you have to allow Cameron to live rent free forever? Should you be concerned about Chad’s application?


Click here  to learn what happens if a resident has filed for bankruptcy.

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FAIR HOUSING AND COMPANION ANIMALS

Many of you recently heard some news regarding “companion animals” and how they no longer had to be treated the same way as traditional “service animals”. Hang on there! The ruling pertains to the Americans With Disability Act (ADA), NOT the Fair Housing Act. Under the Department of Justice’s recent amendment, service animals can only be “dogs” that are trained to work or perform tasks for a person in the “workplace”.  Nothing regarding “housing” has changed.  If you get a reasonable accommodation request from a resident or applicant regarding a “companion” pet, be it a dog, cat, monkey or whatever, call your attorney as soon as possible for guidance.
 

Click here  to read the HUD memo.

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INDUSTRY LEADER OF THE MONTH – GREGG GIRARD

With over 14 years experience in property management and real estate, Gregg is based out of the Greystar City Office in Orlando, serving as the Regional Manager for the Central Florida Market. Originally from Boston, Gregg joined Greystar in 1999 and has been responsible for several lease-ups of new construction, managing multiple sites in Orlando and Tampa. He has extensive experience with interior and exterior renovations, marketing, advertising, property takeovers, lease-ups, client relations, and overall property operations. Gregg currently serves as the President of the Apartment Association of Greater Orlando, (AAGO), is a  Delegate to the Board of Directors for the Florida Apartment Association (FAA) and the National Apartment Association (NAA). Gregg is a Certified Apartment Manager (CAM) and Certified Property Supervisor (CAPS), as well as a licensed real estate agent in Florida and Massachusetts. When he has that spare moment, he enjoys renovation of his historic 1940’s home, spending time with friends and family, and is passionate about European travel!

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SECURITY DEPOSIT QUICK TIP

Your resident gives a notice to vacate for May 31.  On June 4, you are checking rent rolls and decide to check the resident’s unit. The unit is empty, but no keys have been turned in or are on the counter.  On June 5, a set of keys appears in your drop slot. What date do you use as the date the resident vacated? May 31 or June 5? We recommend you use May 31 as the vacating date. The fact that you did or did not receive keys may make no difference under the law, and if you try to use the key return date as a defining date, you are sure to have an argument as to exactly what day the keys were in fact returned. Never miss your 30 day security deposit disposition deadline.

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RENT CONCESSIONS

With a bad economy comes more concessions to the resident, usually in the form of rent, which is reduced or free for a set time period. What are the terms and conditions of these concessions? Does a delinquent resident still receive the discount? What happens if the lease is broken or the resident is evicted? Does the concession become void or charged back? Everything must be clearly spelled out, or disputes will inevitably arise. A sloppy  concession addendum or a handwritten concession on a lease could be real trouble.

 

Click here  to learn more about concessions.
 

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ELECTRONIC PAYMENT ACCEPTANCE

More property management companies are now utilizing services under which the resident can pay rent by ACH, credit or debit card.  It sounds great: fast payments and less chance of employee theft or lost checks or money orders. Electronic payment is indeed the wave of the future, but it is imperative that you are able to have complete control over whether a resident can pay the rent electronically.  Failure to be able to stop a resident from making an electronic payment could cause you to have to dismiss an eviction action. Once an eviction is filed, you do not want the resident to be able to make a full or partial payment electronically. Check with your electronic payment vendor ASAP to see if you have control over denying payments. 

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WATCHING YOUR BANK ACCOUNTS

Do you have an online bank account? If you do not, do you know if someone has opened one up in your company name and transferred funds to it from your operating or escrow account, then transferred these funds to themselves or someone else? Massive fraud is occurring right now in this area by thieves and hackers who may be tracking your every computer keystroke. Worse yet, they may have accessed your accounting software and are covering their tracks while they drain your accounts and steal the security or rent deposits from your residents. Speak to your bank immediately, and see what extra safeguards can be put into place to prevent this from happening to you! 
 

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In this issue:

2011 Hurricane Season

Is The Unit Ours Yet?

Resident in Bankruptcy

Fair Housing and
Companion Animals

Industry Leader of the Month

Security Deposit Quick Tip

Rent Concessions

Electronic Payments Acceptance

Watching Your Bank Accounts

 

Commercial Law and You

 

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

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