Our office will be closed on Independence Day

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Dear Landlords & Tenants,

Our office will be closed on July 4th in observance of Independence Day.  We will return to regular business hours on July 5th.  As customary, we will remain available by phone and many of our resources will remain available while the office building is closed.  The outdoor drop-box will be checked daily.  Online portal access is available 24 hours-a-day.

Due to the Federal Holiday, please be aware of the lease terms:  “All rents shall be paid in advance on or before the first day of each month.  Tenant shall pay the late fee if any rental payment is five days or more late.  Tenant understands and agrees postal delays, envelope post-mark dates, bank discrepancies, online payment system errors, weekends or holidays, or any other pretext does not constitute a waiver of late fees.”

We hope that each of you have a safe and happy Fourth of July!

Sincerely,

 The Bev Roberts Rentals Family

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10 Repairs That Aren’t Your Landlord’s Responsibility

53555741_s-300x200One of the benefits of being a renter as opposed to being a homeowner is that the landlord is responsible for many costly home-improvement projects, like replacing a leaky roof or updating dying appliances. But not all domestic damage is his or her responsibility. What exactly are you on the hook for? Find out which home repairs are not your landlord’s problem — and start saving up for them now.

1. Replacing light bulbs, batteries, and HVAC filters

The landlord can’t control how much you run the lights, so replacing bulbs when they burn out is your responsibility. The same may be true for replacing batteries where necessary, including those in smoke and CO2 detectors, which should be outlined in your lease so that there’s no confusion about who’s supposed to keep up with home safety. Many leases will also require tenants to replace air filters in HVAC systems on a regular basis (ideally every three months, but landlords often supply the filters).

2. Unclogging backed-up drains that you caused

Here’s what I’ve learned from personal experience: Don’t put egg shells or potato skins in the garbage disposal if you don’t know how to unclog the sink. Otherwise, it’ll cost you a visit from the plumber, because this is definitely not your landlord’s problem. Same goes for the toilet — you do the crime, you do the time. Unclog it yourself or call someone ASAP before the problem turns into more damage from overflowing water and other “stuff.”

Practice other considerate grooming habits, too — like cleaning your hair out of drains to keep pipes in working order. If your landlord has to come over to do this for you, he or she has every right to tack an extra fee onto your rent that month.

3. Certain pest infestations

Assuming that you’re moving into a rental unit that doesn’t have any existing vermin problems (you should verify this independently before signing a lease; don’t just take the landlord’s word for it), you may be responsible for any rodent or bug infestations that occur after you move in. Be sure to check the terms of your lease as well as any state-specific laws regarding pests such as bedbugs.

Certain living habits, like leaving old food out or failing to regularly take out the trash, can attract ants, cockroaches, or even rats. If your landlord finds you responsible for the infestation, you will likely have to pay up to get rid of the problem.

Other bug or rodent infestations can happen naturally. Termites, for example, can infest any building regardless of your living habits. In this case, it’s on the landlord to get an exterminator.

4. Lawn care and snow shoveling at single-family homes

Unless your landlord has agreed to handle the mowing and snow shoveling in the single-family home you’re renting, you’ll need to get out there yourself. While you can let the lawn go for a little while, you’re legally required to have your sidewalk shoveled within a few hours after a snowstorm ceases. Fail to do it and you could face fines from the city, which also will be your responsibility. If you live in a multiunit dwelling, however, the landlord generally takes on this responsibility him or herself or hires someone to do it.

5. Damage to property due to your negligence

Being a decent human being means taking responsibility for damage caused by your own negligence — accidental or not — and that of your family, friends, kids, and other guests you invite into the home. Your landlord is not responsible for anyone’s carelessness; you can’t punch holes in the walls during an argument and expect them to fix it. And please, don’t lie to get out of whatever it is you or they did to damage the property. Be an adult, pay for the repairs, and move on (ideally with people who don’t destroy things).

6. Carpet cleaning and repainting

One of the biggest costs to landlords is replacing carpet ruined over time by tenants. I’ve seen some of this damage myself, and I’m frankly baffled by how disrespectful some people are and the lengths they’ll go to try to skirt the cost of cleaning or replacing the carpet.

Repainting the walls their original color (if you’ve painted them) is also your responsibility. This should absolutely be a clause in your lease, but you should always contact your landlord before making any paint decisions.

7. Pet damage

I once had a tenant who was not authorized to bring an animal into my rental but did so anyway. When I questioned her about it, she denied it. I explained to her the strong smell of feline urine upstairs, at which point she revised her story to having a dog in the house briefly. I wasn’t born yesterday, lady. The dog bit was a lie, too — but it didn’t matter what kind of pet was in my house. It was unauthorized, and I passed the cleaning bill right along to her.

8. Misuse of appliances that cause them to malfunction

You break it, you buy it — that’s the rule with appliances in your rental that you’ve damaged. Whether you’ve caused a dryer fire from neglecting to clean out the lint trap, burned out motors from working appliances too hard, or caused the dishwasher to overflow because you thought laundry detergent would work in lieu of dishwashing liquid (shout-out to my ex-husband), it’s all your responsibility. If any appliance just stops working, however, it’s probably on your landlord — so give ’em a call.

9. Holes in the wall from frames and shelving that you hung

Before you can get your security deposit back, your landlord will want to make sure a few tasks are completed, including patching up holes you’ve put in the wall from frames, shelves, and other damage you may have caused to the drywall and paint from adhesives. Skip out on it and you can kiss your money goodbye.

10. Anything else outlined in the lease

Read your lease closely before signing. Most issues of landlord/tenant responsibility are outlined in the document. Keep it on hand to go over again if issues arise so you can quickly determine whether or not the burden and financial responsibility falls on you. Once your signature is on the lease, you’re legally bound to it. If you feel like something outlined should be the landlord’s responsibility, discuss it beforehand to revise if necessary. After that there’s no wiggle room — it’s either your problem or not.

Top 5 Mistakes Landlords Make with Their Investment Properties

1Managing an investment property is no easy task. It may sound like big money, but if you are not prepared it can turn into a huge money pit. As a landlord, you have a big responsibility to the property as well as the tenants. One small misstep could end up costing you valuable time, energy, and money. That is why you must make sure you do your homework before jumping in. Do as much research as possible. If you look up the latest real estate trends in the area or ask a local expert, you will be able to find enough information to help you make the best decisions when it comes to your investment property. Unfortunately, many landlords want to get started so quickly that they do not think before they invest. Here are the top five mistakes that landlords make with their investment properties:

1.Choosing the Wrong Tenants

This is one of the biggest mistakes you can make as a landlord. If you are renting your property out to a stranger, you must take the extra steps needed to make sure you get the best possible tenants in your property. If you do not know them very well, there are certain precautions you can take. Have them prepare the following:

a) Application Form: Have prospective tenants complete a written application form. This will include standard renter’s information such as names, numbers, employer, previous residences, income, etc. Each adult who will be living in the property would need to fill one of these forms out and minors can be added as well. They would sign that all the information they provide is accurate to the best of their knowledge.

b) Credit and Background Checks: Tenant screening is a great way to see how financially stable your prospective renter is. Credit reports often show if someone has been late on payments and the amount of debt they already have. A background check is very important, not just for your peace of mind, but also in consideration of the neighborhood. You would not want to rent the property out to a convicted criminal. It would compromise the safety of the area and could also bring down the property values.

c) Referrals: Asking for referrals from past landlords and current employer is a great way to go the extra mile in finding the perfect tenant. If the applicants have not be great renters in the past, then they probably would not move forward with their application if referrals are needed. A referral from an employer would also give you confidence that the tenant is gainfullyemployed and able to make a monthly payment.

2. Failing to Create a Thorough Lease Agreement

Creating a good lease agreement is where part of your research will come in handy. Many landlords will print the first form they see on the internet. Unfortunately, this form could be outdated and only relevant for a certain location. Make sure to find an application that has all your stipulations and current local regulations spelled out. Some tenants will comb through the entirety of the agreement to try to catch something that the landlord missed to exploit it. For this reason, it is very important that you create a thorough lease agreement. Be sure to add any rules specific to your property in an addendums section.

3. Lack of Communication

If you make yourself unavailable to your tenants, you are doing them and yourself a disservice. Your office should always be open and you should always be available by phone. Sometimes, home emergencies will come up and your tenants will need your ‘okay’ or your help to get the issues resolved. It can range from something small, like a door coming off its hinges, to something huge, like a flood or leak in the plumbing. The sooner you can get back to your tenants, the better for them and you. The longer you let an issue go, the more difficult it will be to fix a problem and the more resentment your renter could have for you. You want to make sure that your tenants have a good experience so that they are not criticalof you to future renters. This is especially important this day and age where you can review anything and anyone on the internet.

4. Setting the Rental Rate Too Low or Too High

Make sure you are setting the rental rate within the correct range for the property’s age and location. There is such a thing as setting the price too high and too low. If the rent is too high for the area or for how old the property is, no one will want to live there. The longer your home sits unoccupied, the more money you are losing each day. In the same vein, you do not want to set the rent too low. You may be able to get someone into the home quicker, but you could be leaving a lot of money on the table. The whole point in taking on an investment property is to make money. The best thing you can do is look at other rental properties in the area. Try to stick within the range of rental pricing you see in the neighborhood.

5. Delaying Eviction Process

If you do find yourself in the position of having to evict a tenant, try to get the process started as soon as possible. You can expect it to take about 30 days from start to finish, but many times, it is delayed because tenants will come up with excuses. As soon as you can tell there is a real issue, you should begin the process. The longer you wait to get it rolling, the longer it will take. The longer it takes, the more money you will be losing. It is important to note that the tenant is still legally obligated to pay the back rent owed to you. However, if a tenant has opted not to pay rent up until this point, you may be out of luck trying to collect it from them in the future.

Being a landlord is a tough role! If you avoid these common mistakes that most people make with their investment properties, you should have an easier go at it. The main thing to remember is that the more research and preparation you put into renting out your property, the more return you will see on your investment.

Source: realtybiznews.com

Service Animals and Small Business: What You Need to Know

1Businesses from airlines to restaurants to taxis are finding themselves in hot water due to their lack of understanding the rules governing service and emotional support animals.

It’s important that organizations – and especially, small businesses – know when and how to accommodate people with service animals to ensure that everyone has the safest and most pleasant experience with your company as possible.

According to the Department of Justice, service animals are classified, as a dog – and vary rarely, a miniature horse – that has been “individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability. The work task(s) performed by the dog must be directly related to the person’s disability.” A service dog can be trained to assist an owner with a disability with any number of task from helping someone who is blind navigate walking streets to picking up items for someone with acute arthritis to activating a life-alert button for someone who has epilepsy.

Service animals are not required to wear any type of vest or carry certification, so they may not always be easy to identify by just looking at them. Businesses can ask if a dog is a service animal and what work task they have been trained to perform, if it is not obvious. However, they are not allowed to demand any verification for the dog or inquire about their handler’s disability.

Service dogs are also protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act(ADA) and can accompany their handler to any public place – including office buildings, coffee shops and airplanes, provided they are under control and not a threat to others. Under the ADA, businesses must make “reasonable modifications” of their policies to accommodate trained service dogs. Companies can be fined for violating the rights of people with service animals.

A good way for businesses to think about service animals is as an extension of their owners. The dogs are trained to help their handlers with tasks they may be unable to perform alone. As such, businesses are not allowed to subject service dogs to any fees or restrictions that might apply to regular pets – such as cleaning or transportation fees. Hotels must also allow service dogs and their owners to stay in any room, not just “pet-only” rooms. Essentially, if a human is allowed somewhere, service animals are likely allowed there, too.

The rules become a bit more challenging around emotional support animals – also known as therapy animals. Emotional support and service animals are not one in the same. The role of an emotional support animal is to provide comfort to its owner and it is not trained to do any specific task. Any animal from a dog to cat or a bird or guinea pig can be considered an emotional support animal and are not covered under the ADA. These animals are considered effective in helping those who suffer from anxiety, depression or even PTSD.

To qualify, owners must receive an approval letter from a mental health professional that the animal provides a therapeutic benefit, and be able to provide that letter if a business requests it. Emotional support animals are allowed in the cabins of airlines at no extra charge and in any rental that falls under the Fair Housing Act, but that is the extent of what federal law requires.

Local laws vary for therapy animals, so it is best to check on the rules in your area before establishing your company policy. For instance, California has more extensive legislation protecting emotional support animals, but New York City isn’t so generous. For instance, in New York employers and landlords must make reasonable accommodations for support animals if you have proper documentation, but they can reject the animal if it poses a threat to the health or safety of others, or if the animal poses a danger of substantial property damage.

California creates three types of support animals with separate rules. The definition of a service dog and an emotional support animal are the same. But a psychiatric service dog is a dog trained to help a person with a mental disability. The tasks it is trained to do is waking someone with clinical depression and making them get out of bed, responding to a panic attack, or alerting an owner to erratic behavior if someone has a bipolar disorder. The protections for this level match those of a regular service dog.

If you do ever encounter a service dog or emotional support animal that is out of control – barking loudly, misbehaving or endangering the safety of other customers – it is perfectly acceptable to ask its owner to bring the animal under control. It is also acceptable to ask them to remove the animal if they are unable to control it. Just as you wouldn’t be expected to allow a human to behave erratically in your place of business, you are not expected to allow a service dog or therapy animal to act that way, either.

Source: businessnewsdaily.com

Is an Evicted Tenant Still Liable for Rent on the Remaining Months of a Lease?

ask-the-attorneyThe Landlord Protection Agency®presents John Reno, Esq.,a highly experienced Landlord – Tenant attorney based on Long Island, NY.

Q:  Dear Mr. Reno:

Thank you Mr Reno for taking my question. Once an eviction takes place, what is the status of the Lease Agreement as it pertains to lost rent? Is the evicted tenant still liable for lost rent for the remaining months of the Lease?
Charles, California.

A: Yes, yes, yes, the tenant is liable for the remaining months- but there’s a catch: Once you re-rent, you no longer can claim damages for lost rent. So you have to wait until you re-rent so you know how much to sue for.

Legal Disclaimer
The Landlord Protection Agency’s “Ask the Attorney” column is for informational purposes only. The questions answered by Mr. Reno on this site do not constitute an attorney – client relationship and are not to be considered legal advice. Not all questions will be answered and some may appear in the LPA Q&A Forum.
The Landlord Protection Agency recommends that you seek legal advice before using any of the material offered on this web site, and makes no guarantee on the effectiveness, compliance with local laws or success of any of the material offered on this web site. The Landlord Protection Agency is not engaged in rendering legal advice.

Popularity of pet-friendly rentals sparks growth in dubious online services

The popularity of pet-friendly apartments has led to development of dubious services on the Internet designed to get owners out of paying high pet fees. The services allow people to obtain phony dog service certification deeming the animal an “emotional support pet,” a designation that not only exempts owners from pet fees but often grants the animal access to rentals that are not pet friendly.

The problem with such efforts is they are sparking more scrutiny from landlords and more calls for increased regulation on issuing emotional support pet certification, which ultimately may make it difficult for people who legitimately need it.44334346_s-228x300

Many of the dubious services have online “therapists” who provide documentation that an emotional support pet is needed. Many provide the “doctor’s note” within 24 hours. As I was looking at some of these websites, one was summoning me to register a pet with them via a pop up. They are very persistent. These services provide a method for people to avoid pet fees and a way to have a pet in a residence that does not allow pets. Pet rents range from $25 to $75 monthly and up front pet fees range from $250 to $1,000 on average per pet.

Emotional support pets are companion animals that provide a therapeutic benefit to individuals with a verifiable mental or psychiatric disability. Emotional support pets are one type of assistance animal, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. An emotional support pet can be any type of animal and is allowed as a reasonable accommodation in a residence that does not otherwise allow pets. This allows dogs, cats, alligators, any type of pet at all with no restriction. You do not have to pay pet fees to a landlord for an emotional support pet.

The difference between an emotional support animal and a service animal is a service animal is trained to perform certain tasks to help people with disabilities, while an emotional support pet is not trained. Unlike service animals, an emotional support pet is not granted access to public places such as movie theaters and hospitals.

HUD does not require a tenant to disclose their disability to a prospective landlord, but they will need to provide documentation from a doctor or other health care professional that the assistance animal lessens one or more of the identified symptoms or effects of an existing disability.

A companion animal can also travel with their person in the cabin of a plane, as allowed by the Air Carrier Access Act, without fees. Typically, the fee to have a pet fly is about $125.

The Transportation Department formed a panel of advisers to look into the issue. Airlines are concerned about the safety of the passengers around the untrained animals and want to know whether their owners legitimately need them for emotional support or are just trying to avoid a fee. The panel was disbanded without a solution, experts say, but with the increase of animals on flights this is bound to come up again.

There is no standardized form that can be used to prove an emotional support pet’s status.  The increase in people fraudulently identifying their pets as assistance animals has led to a consideration of  more regulations for identifying an assistance animal.

An online petition being circulated through Change.org is asking Anna Maria Farias, HUD’s assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity, to reform laws surrounding emotional support animals. While supporting people who legitimately need comfort animals, the petition wants the government to stop allowing owners to get doctors’ notes for emotional support pets online for a fee. The petition asserts these online methods are not credible.

More regulation is needed to prevent people from falsely claiming their pets as companion animals. Let’s hope the regulations will not hinder the process for people who have a legitimate need for an emotional support pet.

 

Source: washingtonpost.com

13 easy ways to stay on your property manager’s good side

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Property managers would be lying if they’ve never had times where relationships with tenants have broken down. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Our friendly team sees your happiness and comfort as a priority — it’s just as important to us as keeping our landlords happy.

So forget previous bad experiences, harsh landlords or unreasonable property managers. We’re extending the olive branch and starting again — these 13 tips will help you understand what we expect from you and why relationships can sometimes become strained. Help us out with these aspects and we’ll get on fabulously. Plus, we’ll be able to give you a great reference when you decide to move on from your current property.

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1. Pay rent on time.

We know this seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how many tenants pay rent late. Want to stay on our (and your landlord’s) good side? The easiest way is to set up a direct debit and pay rent on time every month!

 

2. Be polite.

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Being polite and calm really does go a long way and we’ll always respond with the utmost courtesy too. After all, we’re at work and we want to represent our company in the best way possible. Do some property management companies suck? Absolutely.  But why would anyone want to go above and beyond for someone who is just going to yell or be impolite? When an issue seems to linger, try to see our viewpoint — we’re dealing with hundreds of tenants and landlords which require us to prioritize the urgency of each issue. Often we are addressing the issue, but simply waiting for your landlords response, approval, or payment or waiting for an opening in the maintenance contractors schedule. Honestly, we’re doing our best and also want to get things resolved as quickly as possible! A little bit of kindness and understanding will help you get the resolution you require quicker.

 

3. Listen to our instructions.

You might not believe it, but we know a thing or two about houses! Watch and listen when we show you how to trip a beaker or turn a gas valve off. Everything we say is to make your life easier and our job smoother.

 

4. Be our eyes and ears.

We have to take care of many properties and we won’t know about any problems or issues if you don’t tell us. The earlier you can inform us of a problem, the quicker we can sort it and the less likely it is to escalate.

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5. Tell the truth.

Lease terms can be forgotten or accidents can happen — we understand that kids, friends and even you can make mistakes, and telling us the truth will help us get the problem resolved as soon as possible. After many years in the business, we’ve heard all excuses and we can spot a lie a mile off.

 

 

6. Leave a message.

On the rare occasion we don’t answer your call, please leave us a message, drop us a text, or send us a quick email rather than calling again and again. We may be in a meeting, at a showing appointment, on the phone, or with other clients and unable to answer at the time. We we will respond back as soon as possible.

 

7. Understand we have a lot going on.

Just like everyone at work, we need to prioritize our workload around the urgency of each issue. If we can’t deal with your problem immediately, it doesn’t mean we don’t care — it may just be that someone else has something bigger we need to worry about. We’ll communicate with you as much as possible, so you know why we may be delayed in sorting your problem out.

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8. If you get in a bind, talk to us.

Did you lose your job? Has your flatmate gone off the deep end? We want to know what’s going on and we want to help — don’t think you’ll be in trouble! It won’t help if you put your head in the sand and hope whatever problem you have will go away. Speak to us and we’ll help you address it and get out of any sticky situation. Communication is key!

 

9. Treat the property and the people who do work for us with respect.

We love knowing that our tenants are looking after our properties — a clean tidy damage-free house at inspection time is a sure fire way to get into our good books. And there’s nothing better than hearing from an electrician, plumber or other trades-person that they encountered a lovely tenant.

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10. Work with us.

You have a busy schedule, we have a busy schedule — let’s work together and make everyone’s lives easier. Trust us, we want your problem resolved because we have a dozen more to deal with! Where you can, work with us on times and arrangements. We hate to disturb you but we’ll be done and out of your hair as soon as possible.

 

11. Trust us.

We only ever want to enter your home for a legitimate reason upon prior approval from you — we’re not going to steal your stuff or mess with your things! We have our reputation and real estate licenses on the line.

 

12. Follow the rules.

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We don’t set rules, we’re simply paid to enforce them. Each state has Landlord-Tenant Laws designed to protect the rights of both parties in the lease: the landlord and the tenant. The terms of the lease are not merely made-up by the property manager, but rather established and enforced by the state’s Landlord-Tenant Laws. The state governs when rent is due, when late fees are assessed and what amount to charge, how much notice to give before moving, a landlord’s and tenant’s responsibilities, among others. The lease constitutes a contract. When you sign a contract, you agree to all those rules, so don’t ignore them once you’ve moved in. Good tenants and good landlords respect contracts, and good property managers enforce them. After all, it’s our job to return a landlord’s property to them after a tenancy in the same way it began.

 

13. Respect your neighbors.

Try and put yourself in your neighbor’s shoes — would you appreciate a loud party the night before your final exams or a major presentation at work? No, you wouldn’t! Respecting others is a key part of living on your own so be as considerate as you can and, if you mess up, an apology can go a long way.

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With a little give and take, we can keep our relationship strong and you can have a much more enjoyable and relaxing time in your rental home. We know we’re not always perfect, but we’re just doing our job as best we can.

Source: Harcourts