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Collecting Money After You Take Over

August 29th, 2012|

A man looking at files using a magnifying glass

After running a property for several years, it’s easy to know if a tenant owes you money.  However, often the situation is not as clear when you take over a property.  You aren’t familiar with the prior management company or owner’s lease documents, so this may result in incorrect SODAs, overcharges and other problems.  In addition, if the tenant fights any collection lawsuit, you have to be prepared to prove your case.  After taking over a property, this may be difficult.  Specifically, many of the key witness may be gone or moved on to other properties or even left the city.  The bottom line - after you’ve taken over a property, you should carefully examine every file that you are turning over for collection for potential problems.

Service Animal Behavior

August 8th, 2012|

Seeing eye dog with master

Just because the tenant is disabled and is housing a service animal does not necessarily excuse the animal from abiding by normal behavioral rules.  There may be situations where the tenant's disability prevents the tenant from causing the dog to behave well (a blind tenant cannot pick up after the dog - a deaf tenant may not be able to hear the dog barking) and reasonable accommodations may have to be made.  However, absent those types of accommodations, a service animal can be fully expected to comply with normal pet rules at your property.

Accepting Section 8 Tenants

July 31st, 2012|

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Landlords are not legally obligated to accept tenants with section 8 vouchers.  While the vouchers represent a guaranteed stream of income, there are a number of negative aspects to being in the program.  Some of the notable negative aspects include a limitation on the amount of rent that can be charged, no governmental promise that the apartment will be safe from damage, severe limitations on being able to collect money owed and damages directly from the tenant, limitations on the ability to get out of the program once in, and government subsidized attorneys to fight with the landlord.

Entry After a Tenant Death

July 26th, 2012|

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After a tenant death, a landlord can only let authorized persons into the deceased tenant’s unit.  If the landlord allows unauthorized persons to enter, the landlord is potentiallyliable for missing property.  Proper authorization includes Letters Testamentary, a Small Estate Affidavit, a Power of Attorney, or the tenant’s lease identifies the person as an emergency contact (an important reason to always make sure that tenants provide emergency contacts and they are updated).  In the case of an emergency contact, the lease must also specifically authorize the tenant’s emergency contact to obtain a key upon death.  Because in many instances, a tenant’s next of kin won’t have proper authority as discussed here, you should always contact THS if you are not sure what to do.

Don’t Limit Your Options-Promptly Evaluate And Respond To Tenant Security Deposit Demand Letters

July 4th, 2012|

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Under Colorado landlord tenant law, the landlord has to account for a tenant's security deposit when the tenant moves out. In apartment world, landlord's accounting is commonly referred to as a SODA (statement of deposit account).  If the tenant disagrees, a tenant has a right to dispute landlord's SODA and sue the landlord for three times the amount of the deposit (treble damages) that the tenant contends landlord wrongfully withheld.  However, before a court will award a tenant treble damages in a security deposit lawsuit, the tenant has to give the landlord one last chance to return the deposit within seven days.

Tenants frequently send landlords seven day security deposit demand letters.  Upon receipt of a tenant security deposit demand letter, landlords should immediately evaluate the landlord's legal options prior to the expiration of the seven-day demand.  If a landlord fails to promptly evaluate options after receiving a tenant security deposit demand, the landlord has severely limited his options and given the tenant significantly more leverage in the dispute. Because liability for treble damages and attorneys fees kicks in after the expiration of the seven-day demand letter, difficult tenants can now hold the landlord's feet to the fire for three times the amount of the deposit.

Photocopy of Military Identification Cards Is A No-No!

April 23rd, 2012|

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Federal regulations prohibit non-medical commercial establishments (which includes landlords) from photocopying military identification cards.  The regulations are found in Title 18, Part 1, Chapter 33, Section 701 in the Federal Registry.  The purpose of the regulation is to prevent the forgery of military identification cards.  Some properties require the copying a photo ID for tenants and applicants.  Since some military tenants and applicants use their military IDs as their photo IDs, occasionally the issue comes up where a landlord would like to make a photocopy of a Military ID.  Regardless of the circumstances, copying a military ID is forbidden.  However, there is nothing wrong with requiring that the applicant produce the military ID for inspection or that the landlord require an alternative photo ID to be copied if the landlord requires a copy of a photo ID.

Eviction Confusion Can Cost Time & Money

April 23rd, 2012|

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Evictions are not always cut and dry. Almost every eviction has to be supported by either a contractual or statutory notices. Unfortunately, failure to analyze when and what type of notice needs to be served can cost you time and money.  For example, if you are required to give a thirty-day notice, serving a defective notice will cost you an additional thirty days at minimum.  If you have extremely bad timing, serving an arguably defective thirty-day notice may cost you nearly ninety days.  Just like poker, we can only play the hand you deal us.  When clients come to us with problematic notices, clients have to choose between two less than ideal alternatives. Clients can decide to risk going all in on a problematic notice, or clients can take the safest route and reserve an air-tight notice.  Going all in on a problematic notice means getting the tenant out much quicker if you win, but it also means the tenant gets much more time if you lose.  If you lose, the tenant always gets more time than you would have given them by re-serving a questionable notice.  Fortunately, THS clients don't have to be put between a rock and a hard place.  All existing THS clients know that we are always available to evaluate eviction notices and scenarios for existing clients at no charge.

Being Nice Can Cost You Money

March 6th, 2012|

MoneyDownDrain

Trying to be a nice person AND a landlord is not always the best policy.  A problem normally arises when the nice person part of you convinces the landlord part of you to give a tenant a break and not collect late fees or eviction attorney fees when the tenant comes in to deliver their rent.  Often times the practical part of you says why not take the rent money when it’s the majority of the balance . . . I can always collect the late fees and attorney fees later or keep more of their deposit when they move out.

Unfortunately, there is a legal doctrine called waiver that can really mess with your plans to collect these extra fees later.  Waiver is defined in legalese as a knowing relinquishment of a right.  What it means to you is that when you have a right under your lease to collect late fees and attorney fees, but do not enforce these provisions throughout, you may have waived your right to collect these charges.  Letting a large balance of fees accrue throughout the tenancy or adding a large amount of unpaid fees to the ledger at the end of the tenancy are common indicators of waiver by the landlord.

Who Let The Dogs Out?

March 6th, 2012|

(Handling Assistance Animal Requests In An HOA)

Some communities have covenants or other rules that ban all pets or certain types of animals, breeds, or animals over a certain weight.  Yet, many disabled homeowners or residents ask for exceptions to such covenants, rules, or policies, stating that they need an animal, not as a pet, but, rather, as an assistance animal.  All too often, these requests are for "companion animals."  Such requests are for a reasonable accommodation under federal and state Fair Housing laws.

This Fair Housing Focus examines what an association and/or community manager's responsibilities are for responding to reasonable accommodation requests for assistance animals.  Using the U.S. Department of Justice ("DOJ") and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's ("HUD") Joint Guidelines on reasonable accommodations, this article will explain how to respond to any request for an assistance animal.

One Difficulty In Collecting HOA Assessments

March 6th, 2012|

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When a homeowner stops paying assessments, the next logical step is sending the balance to collections.  But what happens to collection efforts if the homeowner resides out of state?

When a homeowner lives outside of Colorado, continuing collection efforts can become expensive and complicated. Some states allow out-of-state collectors to make phone calls and send letters, but many do not.  But phone calls and letters are often less effective than collecting using legal means such as garnishments after judgment.