Fifty Ways to Leave Your Landlord

There must be fifty ways to leave your landlord, but if you want your security deposit back, it is more complicated that to just drop off the key to get yourself free. If you slip out the back to terminate your lease early, you may not be able to get your security deposit, and furthermore, you may still owe rent after you have gone. If you hop on the bus and do not leave a forwarding address, it will be difficult for your landlord to send you your money (or notice of what happened to it). The answer is easy if you take it logically: Landlords have fifteen days to return your security deposit.  That gives them the opportunity to examine fully the property for damages.  Then, the landlord has up to 30 days to send you written notice after you leave to tell you they are keeping all or part of your deposit.  If you think that is a dirty deal, you have 15 days to notify your landlord in writing (Certified Mail, return receipt requested). There must be fifty ways to leave your landlord, but if you want your security deposit back, the best way is to follow […] Read More

An Enforceable Lease

Not all contracts have to be written in order to be enforceable, but some do.  Real estate contracts and any contract that cannot be performed within one year (like a lease of more than a year) must have written contracts. Real estate agents are allowed to do a lease up to a year using pre-made legal forms.  These forms have been prepared by attorneys, and the real estate agent uses the check boxes to tailor the agreement.  Also, a lease of a year or less does not need witnesses to be enforceable. When in doubt, seek competent legal counsel.   Attorneys do not have to be expensive and they do not have to be obnoxious.  Furthermore, an attorney can be the difference between an enforceable lease, and a useless piece of paper.   Read More

Residential and Commercial Leases Are Different

With residential leases, you are not going to use a lawyer all the time to set up a rental.  A commercial lease, however, is more sophisticated. Residential landlords own the dirt and the building they are leasing out.  Commercial leases, however, have a lien on the stuff inside the building.  As a commercial tenant, you cannot just leave in the middle of the night.  Your landlord has a lien on your furnishings and equipment. Also, unlike a residential lease, a commercial landlord can put a chain on your door in certain circumstances, denying you access to your property and rental space. Do not get stuck in a lease you do not understand.  Whether it is residential or commercial, if you do not understand the terms of the lease, seek competent legal counsel to look over your shoulder.  An attorney who represents you and only you can help ensure you are getting wheat you think you are getting.   Read More

Mrs. Tittlemouse in the Trailer Park

Once upon a time Mrs. Tittlemouse was having her home tented for bugs.  What with the creepy-crawly people in the plate rack and Miss Butterfly tasting sugar in the larder and all the other uninvited guests, she just could not stand it any longer, and she moved out temporarily to rent a trailer. The trailer park was owned by Mr. Jackson, a toad of a landlord, but an acquaintance of Mrs. Tittlemouse’s.  He had a great many rules:  no drinking, drugs, excessive noise, children, or pets.  This suited Mrs. Tittlemouse quite well and she certainly saw no aversion to following the rules on her part, so she signed the lease and moved in.  Immediately after that, Mr. Jackson sojourned up the river where he had heard the flies were hatching. Meanwhile back at the trailer park, none of the rules were being enforced.  The park ran amok with an excess of drinking, drugs, noise, children, and pets.  It was very vexing to Mrs. Tittlemouse who was a most terribly tidy particular little mouse!  However, she feared if she moved out, she might be sued, or at least lose her last month’s rent.  She even feared this may have been Mr. […] 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

Does A Commercial Lease Have To Be Witnessed?

Commercial leases are usually for more than one year.  They are typically longer than residential leases because of build-out expenses (which you do not normally have with residential leases).  So, does a commercial lease have to be witnessed? Yes.  According to the Statute of Frauds, if an agreement is for more than one year it has to be witnessed…but it does not have to be notarized. You may want legal counsel to help ensure you get what you think you are getting in a contract, and also so that the agreement is properly executed and enforceable.   Read More