October 2012

The following questions came into our office and these were the answers that were provided.

The question was asked if we could, as a landlord, give a co-signer all of the information in the lease agreement and the application.  The answer is no, the co-signer is simply guarantying payment, they are not considered a lease holder.

The next question involved a live-in attendant that refused to leave the apartment after being terminated by the resident.  The landlord has the option of serving a notice to vacate on the attendant, as her occupancy has now become unauthorized.  If the person did not leave, then an eviction could be taken through the courts.  The resident also has the option of seeing if the police would voluntarily remove the individual or to obtain a retraining order to keep the person out.

The landlord had just taken a tenant into management from a previous management company.  The lease that the previous management company was using did not have a provision for collection and payment of the rental sales tax.  The new management company wanted the tenant to sign their lease.  The original lease would be the controlling document and until it expired, the new management company would have to honor it.

Another landlord wanted to know if they could have tenants electronically sign their leases.  The answer is yes.  The law does recognize faxed documents with signatures on them, as well as electronic signatures.

A manager had a question concerning a break-in at the rental office and the theft of many of the resident’s files.  The manager was concerned about liability.  Generally speaking, there would be no liability because this is criminal act that the landlord had no control over.  However, the landlord should determine which files were removed and contact those tenants immediately so that they can take whatever steps are necessary concerning their identity.

Another question concerned a leaseholder that is out of the country.  The occupant only wanted to sign the lease renewal agreement.  In this situation it would be recommended that the occupant have the resident email confirmation or take some type of step to confirm that the occupant may sign the lease and the resident understands they should sign the lease as soon as they return to the United States.

Another manager had a tenant who had been previously evicted and moved in with another resident and wanted to know what they could do.  You can either serve the resident that they moved in with a ten (10) non-compliance notice for an unauthorized occupant or serve the previously evicted tenant a notice to vacate as an unauthorized occupant.

A manager wanted to know if she could hold a tenant to a lease that was signed by the tenant, but the tenant changed their mind immediately after signing and didn’t get keys or take possession.  The answer is yes, the lease becomes a binding contract on signature, so the tenant would be responsible for all charges under the lease.

A manager had a complaint from one of their residents that another resident had set up a security camera facing directly to this tenant’s bedroom.  Normally, the only legal security cameras that can be placed are those that look down at the entryway only.  The can not be invading the privacy of a resident in the rental property.

A landlord wanted to know if the fourteen (14) business days to notify a tenant of charges and/or to return their deposit applies to co-signers.  The co-signer is guarantying payment of all charges under the lease and if the co-signer paid the deposit, they would have a claim if it were not properly refunded.  

The following humorous situations came up.  In the first one the tenant put on the application that her employment was phone sex.  When asked about this by the landlord, the tenant said she works from home and engages in phone sex as her way of earning a living.  She met all of the qualifications to rent the apartment, but the landlord did not want to rent.  Because the tenant admitted she was running a business from her apartment the landlord was able to deny the application.

In court the Judge turned to the tenant and asked the tenant if he would like to call any witnesses.  The tenant said, “As a matter of fact, yes” and took out his cell phone and started to dial a number.  The Judge said, “No. What I mean is, do you want to call a witness that is in the courtroom?”  The tenant responded, “Why would I want to call them on the telephone if they are already in the courtroom?”

The final incident involved a tenant that saw two (2) individuals trying to break into his vehicle in the parking lot.  The tenant took his handgun out and at gunpoint made the two thieves go back into his apartment.  Inside the apartment, he made them take off all of their clothes and then made them leave, running naked through the apartment complex to their vehicle.  The police were called and stopped the thieves approximately a block from the apartment community.  When they cam back to talk to the tenant, they found an alligator and six (6) pounds of marijuana in the tenant’s apartment.  The tenant, who was a victim, now became charged with the crimes involving the illegal alligator and the drugs, and of course found himself being immediately evicted