Abominable Snowman & the Rental Unit A/C

The Abominable Snowman rented a place in Florida one summer, eager to check out the beach and what everybody saw in those tourist billboards up North. “No pets,” was the first thing Larry the Landlord said when he got a look at Mr. Abominable. After they got over the issue of the Abominable Snowman being the renter himself and not a pet, and after they got over the negotiation of an extra security deposit to cover hair removal from the drains, Larry the Landlord and the Abominable Snowman signed a lease agreement. One night the Abominable Snowman was in his rental unit having pizza with his southern cousin, the Swamp Ape, when suddenly the air conditioning cut out. “I got to go,” said the Swamp Ape, and he cut out faster than the A/C because he was wanted—everybody was always trying to post his picture and get an interview. The Abominable Snowman was furious and overheated, and he withheld rent for every day of the lease that he did not have air-conditioning. He went to court to raise a fuss, but because he had not paid his rent (not even into the Registry of the Court) he had no say […] Read More

Free Legal Lecture April 8: “Landlord/Tenant Laws”

So you did not go to law school and you did not pass the Bar Exam.  No problem.  The People’s Law School continues in April with its series of legal lectures presented by St. Johns County Legal Aid.  The April 8th topic is, “Landlord/Tenant Laws.”  This FREE one-hour class starts at 4:00 p.m. at the Southeast Branch Library (6670 US 1 South, St. Augustine, Florida). The People’s Law School schedule continues as follows: April 22 – “Should You Ever Put Someone Else’s Name on Your Deed?” All classes are free and open to the public, and start at 4:00 p.m. at the Southeast Branch Library.  For more information on St. Johns County Legal Aid and their services, go to www.jaxlegalaid.org.   Read More

Hoarding & Rental Agreements

There is no legal definition of hording, but if you are going to try to define it in a rental agreement, that agreement needs to be written down.  One person’s ‘hoarding’ is another person’s ‘collection’.  What may be a subjective hobby to a renter may be an objectionable disorder to a landlord. The terms ‘rental agreement’ or ‘lease’ can be used interchangeably.  A rental agreement does not have to be written down unless it is going to be for more than one year (and if written, then it needs to be witnessed).  Because hoarding lacks a legal definition, you will have to define it in the lease. The bad news is that if you wind up trying to evict a renter because of hording and the renter raises a legal defense, you are probably going to go to trial to sort out if the lease has been violated.  The good news is that the renter has to be current on their rent in order to raise that legal defense. Read More

Holiday Rush & Pause on Renter Eviction

The hustle and bustle of the holidays does not apply to renter eviction.  Landlord-Tenant Law works off the courthouse calendar—not Wal-Mart hours. Tenant eviction is a summary process that can be done in as little as two weeks (if done properly).  Landlord notices come in increments of less than ten days.  Because that is such a short amount of time, the court does not count holidays or weekends to allow the tenant time to get things done.  Plus it is harder for a tenant to pay a landlord on holidays and weekends when banks are closed. As a landlord, you have to follow proper eviction procedure or it might not happen and you could lose more than rent.  If rent is due on Sunday and not paid, then on Monday you can give a Three Day Notice to pay or quit.  You do not count the day on which you give it, thus the renter has until Thursday to pay you.  If rent is not paid, then on Friday you can file a Complaint for Possession.  The Complaint has to be served by a sheriff’s deputy or other person authorized by the sheriff’s department (NOT the landlord).  Once the Complaint […] Read More

People’s Law School – March 11: ‘Landlord / Tenant Law’

The People’s Law School is in session again this spring, with a series of legal lectures presented by St. Johns County Legal Aid.  The March 11th topic is “Landlord / Tenant Laws.”  This FREE one-hour class starts at 4:00 p.m. at the Southeast Branch Library (6670 US 1 South, St. Augustine, Florida). The People’s Law School schedule for the rest of the spring is as follows: March 18 – Foreclosure Defense of Homesteads April 1 – How Can You Avoid the Need for Guardianship? April 8 – Is Probate a Dirty Word? April 15 – Spouse in a Nursing Home—Do You Have to Go Broke? April 22 – Should You Ever Put Someone Else’s name on Your Deed? May 13 – Do You Need a Will?  What If You Die Without One? All classes are free and start at 4:00 p.m. at the Southeast Branch Library.  For more information on St. Johns County Legal Aid and their services, go to www.jaxlegalaid.org. Read More

Pay to Play?

In most rental eviction defenses, you have to pay to play.  In other words, if you feel you are being wrongfully evicted, you have to deposit rent into the Registry of the Court so that your side will be heard.  But that is not necessarily the case in the Fifth District. There are certain statutory prerequisites to a tenant eviction throughout the State of Florida.  One of those is the Three Day Notice.  Yet here in the Fifth District, if the landlord messes up the Three Day Notice, the Tenant does not necessarily have to pay rent to the Registry of the Court in order to launch a defense.  Right now, this is unique to our District; however, it could go to the Florida Supreme Court to become a statewide rule. There are lots of ways a Landlord can mess things up in an eviction.  Or he can play by the rules. You can learn more about Landlord/Tenant Law on this website.  If you are going to play Landlord, play it right, or you could be the one to pay. Read More

Turn Off the Dark – Renters’ Rights

Landlord-Tenant relations can make a power struggle into a power outage…illegally.  A landlord who turns off the electricity can be sued for three times the rent.  That is nowhere near the cost of liability insurance for Spider-man, but it should be enough to deter landlords from leaving their renters in the dark. Landlord Tenant Law keeps the Landlord from taking gross advantage.  Renters in possession have rights, and they are entitled to the proper procedure in eviction. For eviction forms and more information on Landlord-Tenant Law, visit the St. Johns County Clerk of Courts website at http://www.clk.co.st-johns.fl.us/family/evictions.html.  With great power as a Landlord, comes great responsibility toward your tenants. Read More