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LEGAL NEWS

Vol. 8 Issue 11


ARE WE BEING THANKFUL ENOUGH?

If you are reading this newsletter, you probably have a job managing property.  How about your residents? How many of them are unemployed or underemployed?  This holiday season may be the tightest in recent memory.   Start now by collecting food and gifts for your residents or your favorite charities. Decorate that box in your office for canned goods, set up that holiday tree in your clubhouse, collect some gifts and spread the word amongst your vendors who may be willing to contribute. It never hurts to ask.  Have some vacant units? How about reading up again on what Mid-America’s Open Arms Program is all about, and how they have changed lives. Happy Holidays to all!

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DESTROYING THE EVIDENCE

Many of your maintenance techs are top-notch. Before you even get to the office, they have cleaned up the mess from the night before, repaired damages, threw away trash left outside of the door and tossed the broken beer bottles from the breezeway. Great. The problem is that you then ask us to evict the problem resident responsible for the damage and littering with no physical evidence, such as photos. Please make sure that every maintenance tech is provided with a digital camera ASAP, and train your tech to build our evidence. It could mean the world in being able to file and win an eviction action in court.

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WORTHLESS CHECKS

The manager has received a notice of three bounced checks – two for insufficient funds and one because the account was closed.  One of the checks was payment on a Three-Day Notice to Pay Rent.  The manager isn’t sure if she has to issue a new Three-Day Notice to Pay Rent, or if she should send a “Bad Check Letter”.  She wants to charge the resident an administrative fee for her time and trouble and the bounced check fees that the bank charged her.  What are the correct fees to charge and the correct notice to send?

Click here  for how to handle worthless checks.

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RENTERS INSURANCE

There was all sorts of chaos in your apartment community last week. There was a small kitchen fire that damaged the apartment home of Rick, one of your residents. Tammy, another resident, came home from work to find out that her unit had been burglarized. In addition, Nancy’s apartment home was damaged due to flooding from a water heater. All three residents had obtained renters insurance.   Now you have just found out that only Rick and Tammy will be covered by their renter’s insurance policies, not Nancy. What is going on? This makes no sense to you. Even worse, you are now told that that the landlord may be held responsible for Nancy’s personal property loss due to the flooding. Why is Nancy not covered by her renter’s insurance policy?

Click here  to learn more about renters insurance.

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PROPER EXECUTION OF THE CORPORATE LEASE AND GUARANTEE AGREEMENTS

Your regional manager made it a priority for you to increase your occupancy numbers.  To your delight, a company called XYZ, Inc., signed 14 leases with you six months ago.   With that many leases, you did not require a personal guarantee, figuring the company must be in good financial shape.   Everything was going smoothly until two months ago, when the company suddenly stopped paying the rent.  When checking with the Secretary of State yesterday, it turns out that XYZ, Inc., never even existed in the first place.  Worse yet, your attorney told you that it would be unclear who to file eviction actions against, since you cannot even read the signature on the lease, and a bogus corporate title was listed. How could all of this been avoided?

Click here  to obtain information on how to properly execute corporate leases and guarantee agreements.

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AVOIDING DOUBLE PAYMENTS

Each year, we refund thousands of dollars to our clients due to them double paying bills or paying for a cancelled eviction case. Is your attorney or other vendor doing this, or are they conveniently hoping the double payment will be overlooked? It is a dirty little secret in the industry. While some companies are terrible at bill paying, others pay quickly and ask no questions. Make sure you take the time to avoid overpayments, or ask your vendors to send you a list of invoices, invoice numbers and payments.

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BBB SCAM

It is bad enough when a manager gets an email or letter complaint from the Better Business Bureau, and we dealt with this in depth here, which we urge you re-read, but there is a scam Better Business Bureau email going around which appears to be a real complaint, and then asks for information which the panicked property manager may give out, or asks you to click a link. Before clicking any link, run your cursor over the link and see if it is the same URL as the link. If not, it most likely is a complete scam, which can immediately infect your computer and even your network with a destructive virus.

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NOTICE SERVING QUICK TIP

It is so easy to pre-fill out your Three-Day Notices, tiptoe up to the door, tape the notice on the door, and take off. Couple little problems: first, the law requires that you ONLY can serve by posting on the premises if the resident is not home; secondly, by failing to communicate with the resident, your number of evictions will be higher.  Communication serves many purposes. It is a reminder to pay rent; it is a promise for possibly getting the rent in a couple days, or you may find out that the resident is all packed up and moving out over the weekend. Want to waste an eviction filing and make your attorney more money? That is your choice. We are not complaining!!!

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INDUSTRY LEADER OF THE MONTH – ELLEN PETERSON

Ellen Peterson is a Multi-Site Manager for NDC Real Estate Management, Inc., as well as the office manager for its Florida regional office in Bradenton. With 4 years of experience in property management, Ellen specializes in affordable housing programs such as project-based Section 8, Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), and HOME Funding. She has designations including Assisted Housing Manager, Certified Occupancy Specialist, and Housing Credit Certified Professional. Ellen attributes her career success to her regional managers, Rick Elwood and Michael Cecala. She credits them with being always being there to support and encourage her, and that has helped her to grow within the company.  For the past three years, Ellen has been heavily active in the Tri-City Apartment Association (TCAA), and she is proud to be serving as its current President for 2011 and again in 2012. On behalf of TCAA, she serves as an alternate delegate for the Florida Apartment Association (FAA).   In addition to helping TCAA serve its members to the best of its ability, Ellen’s favorite aspect of being involved with the association is the legislative activities. She has attended the FAA Legislative Conference in Tallahassee for the past two years and is looking forward to participating in February. In her personal time Ellen enjoys traveling, shopping, and sewing. She loves football and is a season ticketholder for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers; you can always find her tailgating before any home game at Raymond James Stadium.

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COMMERCIAL LAW AND YOU – Addressing Ambiguities in the lease

In the event of an ambiguity in the lease, the Court may hear oral testimony, in legal speak “Parol Evidence”, to allow the Court to make a correct determination of the true intent of the parties. If for some reason the intent is not properly expressed in the written document, the Court would need to look at the entire agreement, and when necessary consider parol evidence. Florida law is clear that the Court cannot accept extrinsic evidence simply to rewrite a written document. It is always a less than a clear situation to determine if parol evidence could be allowable, and whether the ambiguities are “latent” or “patent”.  The overarching theme on these concepts in regard to proper lease execution is to have the commercial lease properly drafted and executed, BUT sometimes you inherit that poorly written lease.

Click here  for a discussion of “Parol Evidence” by attorney Kevin Jursinski.

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December
Legal Holiday Alert

Don't forget to exclude these Legal Holidays when preparing your Three Day Notices in December 2011!

Dec. 23, 26 - Christmas

Commercial Law and You

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

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