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

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

‘Watch Man Fighting to Keep Home’

Once upon a time there was a man literate only enough to sign his name.  He needed a loan to help him pay his property taxes; what he got was a lease with an option to buy back his homestead at interest rates well over criminal usury.  This is no fairytale.  See a First Coast News clip about the case at http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid2857356515001?bckey=AQ~~,AAAACCo2HcE~,Xq6bv4z8O3WrBlTuUCc4XcMYQJmz5JX6&bclid=0&bctid=3386650672001. Read More