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Archive for the ‘Landlord Tenant’ Category

Eviction Notice

Thursday, June 5th, 2008

While an eviction notice is a legal document that you don’t ever want to have to write or receive, they are a necessary legal tool that any landlord needs to know how to compose and any tenant needs to know how to deal with. In short, an eviction notice is used when a tenant has violated the terms of their lease to such an extent that the land lord has no other legal option available other than evicting the tenant from the premises. Laws regarding when an eviction notice can be given, how they have to be written and what can be done to fight them vary wildly from state to state, so check with the jurisdiction you live in to find out the finer points of writing or accepting an eviction notice.

Most eviction notices can be broken into two main categories, eviction with cause and eviction without cause. If you are looking to give or receive a termination with cause, that means that the tenant has done something to directly cause themselves to be evicted. It could be a situation where illegal activity was occurring in the rented space or it could be something as simple as keeping a pet even though the lease expressly forbade pets. Landlords have two choices when it comes to issuing eviction notices with cause. They can give the tenant one last try to fix the situation or they can simply cut ties and require that the tenant be out in 30 days. In the case where the tenant is given one more chance, they usually have five total days maximum to repair the situation and then the eviction notice can be withdrawn.

If you are looking to give an eviction without cause, the procedure works a little differently. This sort of eviction can be given if there is currently no lease between tenant and land lord or if the lease is set to expire. In this case, most state and local laws require at least a month’s notice, although some require up to three months for the tenant to find a new place since they are being evicted through no fault of their own. State laws in this situation can actually be trumped if you own or run a property that is assisted in any way by the government. Check with the laws in your area.

If the main cause of the eviction is a non payment of rent, many states and locals have much more landlord-friendly laws in place to help out landlords who need rent to stay solvent.

To find a legally written eviction notice for your state or local, you can easily find one online and many sites have free ones that can be downloaded as PDFs and printed out, that way, you don’t have to enlist the help of expensive lawyers to write up a fresh eviction notice every time you need one.

Although both residents and tenants hope that they will never really need an eviction notice, it is helpful to know the laws in your area.

Landlord’s Notice to Enter

Thursday, June 5th, 2008

Depending on where you live, there are strict laws on the books that govern when your landlord can enter your unit once you’ve begun renting it. While the laws are different even within various states and provinces, the general rule is that written notice must be delivered at least 24 hours prior to entry, especially if the tenant is not going to be home at the time of entry. Let’s take a look at what one of these simple landlord notice to enter contracts looks like.

In most jurisdictions, a landlord notice to enter contract can fit onto a 3 by 5 card so you can imagine how simple they are to prepare and fill out. The notice must include the address and name of the tenant (or, in the case of a multi-unit building, the suite number), the date and time that the entry is being done and the exact reason for the entry. In most cases, a notice to enter is done to fix something in the unit that was requested by the tenant themselves, although there can be any number of legal reasons why an entry can be done, such as to test fire alarms.

There are times when a landlord may enter into your unit with no notice at all, but these circumstances are few and far between. If your landlord smells smoke on your floor or inside your unit, they can legally let themselves in to see if there is a fire. In a case such as this, many jurisdictions require that a card be left behind notifying the tenant that an entry was made into the suite, at what time and why. If no notice is left notifying the tenant that an unauthorized entry was made into their suite, legal action can likely be taken by the tenant so that it never happens again.

There are other situations where a landlord can enter into a rented space without permission, but with notice, such as when the landlord needs to show the unit to others to rent it out. There could also be a scenario where city inspectors need to inspect the unit on short notice. Even in a case like this, 24 hour notice is supposed to be given each and every time.

Landlords can also enter a rented space with notice but without permission for pest control reasons, although some jurisdictions forbid this practice.

A fine line is walked by many landlords who choose to enter into a unit that they believe might have become abandoned or if they have not been able to contact the tenant for an extended period of time. As long as rent has been paid, the landlord, under most circumstances, can’t just enter the rented space without believing an emergency is taking place.

While it may seem like a simple procedure on the surface, a landlord notice to enter agreement can be quite complicated. Make sure you have a working knowledge of the laws and regulations in your area before you rent out your first space.

Late Rent Notice

Thursday, June 5th, 2008

Being a landlord means having a multitude of legal forms on hand at all times, even if you don’t ever get to use them, however, chances are, you will need a late rent notice at one point or another. While a late rent notice sounds like a fairly simple legal form to write out, it still requires a specific wording for it to be legally binding.

A few caveats here, first, rules and laws concerning collection of late rent vary wildly across the United States. Not only can laws change from state to state but they can even vary within a state as local laws can sometimes have influence. If you haven’t already, familiarize yourself with the laws in your jurisdiction so you know what your rights are and what the rights of your tenant are.

As for writing a proper late rent notice, you can use a template downloaded from the Internet, but it is important to note that any template that you might use may not be completely accurate for your area. If you do decide to use a template, make sure it was written specifically for your state.

First off, there is no point in writing a late rent notice if you can’t be completely sure it is seen. Therefore, the letter must either be hand delivered, not set inside a screen door, actually, physically handed to your tenant, or it can be mailed via certified mail so that your tenant has to sign for it. That way, you have provable evidence that your late rent notice was received.

Next, make sure you use proper names throughout. If your tenant has a nickname or if you go by a nickname, don’t use it as this is supposed to be a formal, legal letter. In the first paragraph, make sure you spell out exactly what the letter is for, how much rent they owe, how overdue it is and if you have attempted to collect or contact them previously. Make sure that any claims you make are backed up by the lease that both of you signed. In the next paragraph, you can outline collection procedures and if there are late fees that are mounting daily or not. You need to give the total balance due at that point and tell your tenant how and where they can pay you to clear any balance owed.

Finally, make sure you clearly spell out the consequences of not paying the total balance by a certain date. If you know the laws in your area for how they pertain to eviction, you can include that information, as well. Most jurisdictions allow evictions to happen much more quickly if there is a late rent or no rent situation, as opposed to other forms of eviction that require a one to three month notice.

No landlord ever hopes to have to write a late rent notice as most landlords genuinely like their tenants and wish them nothing but the best, but if you need to write one, this guide should help.

Security Deposit Refund Letter

Thursday, June 5th, 2008

One of the biggest bones of contention that many landlords and residents have is regarding the security deposit. In almost every case, refunding part of or all of a security deposit is based on conjecture, and in almost every case, the tenant believes they left the apartment or rental space in much better condition than the landlord did. However, when it comes time to refund part of or all of the security deposit, it helps to have a handy letter already made up that you can enclose a check with. This can be and should be an extremely simple letter, especially if you aren’t withholding any of the deposit. If you are, it only gets slightly more complicated.

To start, try to print the letter on any type of official letterhead that you might use or at least on personal stationary so that there is no doubt that the letter came from you. Next, just as you would with any formal letter, start with the address of your tenant followed by your address. At the start of the letter, simply state that this is their security deposit (or pet deposit or both) return for the time that tenant rented from you (state the full time of occupation). If the unit was returned to you in pristine condition, state that everything is in good shape and that they are receiving 100 percent of their original deposit. Thank them and sign.

Now, if you feel it necessary to withhold part of or all of the security deposit, you will need to include a bit more detail. Start with any violations that you feel cost your tenant their security deposit. If you can, include pictures (digital or Polaroid, don’t send originals) of the damage that you feel cost them part of or all of their security deposit. Also, thanks to the magic of cut and paste, try to include the exact clauses in the lease that you feel they violated. The more proof you include in your security deposit refund letter, the better off you’ll be.

Now, unless your tenant has already agreed to take less of their deposit back, you will likely face a few angry phone calls or even a call to small claims court, so if you have any physical evidence left over, make sure you record it and document it because you will likely need it later on.

If you required your tenant to leave more than one kind of deposit, such as a pet deposit or another kind of deposit, you might want to write a separate letter, using the same essential style and template as the one described above, for each deposit. Many landlords require a separate pet deposit left, while others charge other kinds of deposits based on what their tenant does.

As you can see, a security deposit refund letter is a pretty straight forward way of communicating with your tenant, but if you feel it necessary to keep part of or all of the security deposit, you will find this kind of letter to be a bit more complicated.

Tenant’s Notice to Terminate Tenancy

Thursday, June 5th, 2008

Thanks to the incredible world of the Internet, people can now find legal forms and templates for just about anything with a simple Google search. However, since laws and regulations change so much from state to state or from province to province, you may find a form that’s perfectly legal in Indiana, but not in Ohio. Let’s take a look at all of the important information that should be included in a tenant’s notice to terminate tenancy letter.

No matter how friendly you are with your landlord, when it comes time to move on, you should consider typing up a notice to terminate tenancy letter. You can never tell when a seemingly friendly relationship will end up turning nasty due to money matters or for other reasons, so it’s smart to cover your back.

When starting out a formal letter like this, you should use a formal letter style. Start with the address of your landlord, followed by your address. Use full, formal names here, not nicknames. Simply state in the first paragraph that you are wishing to terminate your tenancy on a certain date, and make sure you quote your lease agreement (either written or oral) that requires one month or three months notice so there is no question about you giving enough notice.

You don’t have to give a reason why you are terminating your tenancy in your letter as long as you are abiding by your lease and giving enough notice. If you are wishing to terminate your tenancy before you are legally allowed to due to your lease, you might want to include the extenuating circumstances for your decision, but you should be aware that your landlord has you over the proverbial barrel in this case. They can “be a nice guy” and let you out of your lease, but if they don’t want to, you will have to make whatever payments your lease requires you to make so you can leave early.

Unless you have completely junked the apartment you were living in, most tenants expect to get most if not all of their security deposit back once they move out. Many tenants fear that by leaving an apartment and angering their landlord that they will somehow lose part of their deposit. That’s why it is always a good idea to go above and beyond when it comes to cleaning up your unit before you leave. Even if your lease doesn’t state that the carpets need to be cleaned, clean them. See if you can get some paint and cover up any holes or marks on the wall, or use a Magic Eraser and go around and clean off any scuff marks. It may sound like a lot of work but when most people have the choice of doing this for a few hours or not getting their deposit back, most people put in the work.

Your lease should outline how long after you move out that you have to wait to get your deposit returned to you in full.