Smokey and the Tenant

If you ever had a tenant or renter that smokes then you most likely had some smoking related damage to your unit. Smoking tenants may be  something you wish to avoid. How do you protect your property from smokers? Can a tenant be told he is not allowed to smoke on your property? Do smokers have legal rights? In other words, are they a protected class they can not be discriminated against?

Let’s clear the air about smoking. There are no federal or state laws or statutes that stop a landlord from prohibiting all forms of smoking in or around any part of the property. Smokers are not a protected class and therefore a landlord/owner can discriminate against smoking tenants.

This means that the Landlord/owner can make policies for all their units, houses, common areas, porches, lanais, gardens, play and swim areas etc….creating entire “smoke-free zones” or “designated smoking zones”.

While for landlords and owners the benefit of regulating smoking is obvious ( no butts littering your property, no accidental fires or burnings or other related injuries, no property damage etc..). Most non smoking tenants will also appreciate having rules against smoking and not being the victim of a smelly or dirty unit or worse yet, second hand smoke.

If you are going to regulate smoking, it is imperative that your lease and/or addendum to lease very clearly addresses smoking and related restrictions. Keep in mind that if you have an existing tenant that smokes, you may not be able to ban a current tenant from smoking, if in their lease or addendum there is no language regulating smoking. Even if the lease allows for the landlord to make future rules and regulations as the landlord deems necessary, the smoker most likely will be grandfathered in. In that case, you will just have to wait out the tenant and address this issue at time of renewals.

Of course, it is one thing to make a rule, it’s totally another to police it. However, your ability to police and ultimately enforce your smoking restrictions begins with proper language in your lease and/or addendum.

About Octazon:
Whether you own a few properties or hundreds of properties in Florida, Octazon Management, LLC is here to bring order and simplify property ownership and management. We can help you manage any and all of your properties. Call us 888-324-9528 or email us info@octazon.com today

Quick Tips for Landlords to Help Keep Pets From Becoming a Nuisance & Liability

Other than a service animal necessary to accommodate a person with a disability, the tenant has no legal right to keep a pet on the premises. A pet is deemed a privilege – not a right, which the landlord can revoke at any time so long as certain processes and procedures are followed.

So here are some tips to consider on how to protect yourself from a tenants pets becoming a nuisance and liability to your property or worse yet, a danger to another tenant.

 Treat pets like you would any other potential occupant. This means that as part of the tenant application process, the prospective tenant should provide detailed information about its pet(s) for approval. Have clear standards in your application as to the type of pets that are prohibited and what type of pets will be considered for approval.

 Require that the applicant provide a clear picture of its pet(s). Better yet, take the time to see and observe the pet. In other words you should view the screening of a pet as serious as you would any other occupant.

 If you deny the applicant based on the pet (or if that is one of several reasons for denial) make sure to document that reason as a cause for denial. However, if you elect to approve the pet, then you should have a specific “pet addendum” providing for certain rights and protection for the landlord and allowing the landlord to charge a pet fee and pet security deposit. If you do charge a deposit make sure to treat the pet security deposit like any other tenant deposit.

 A pet should be viewed like any other non compliant occupant. This means that if the pet is misbehaving, disturbing or disorderly, you need to serve the pet owner with a 7 days notice like you would any other tenant. Of course, like a tenant, if the animal is a danger and an immediate threat to other tenants, such as it is attacking or biting other tenants, you most likely do not need to provide any type of warning/seven day notice but can require the immediate removal of the pet. Even an owner of a service animal is responsible for the conduct and behavior of its service animal.

 While in general a pet that injures and harms another creates liability for the pet owner/tenant, the law is unclear as to the legal responsibility of the owner of the building. The more procedures an owner/landlord has in place from the application process through an appropriate addendum, the greater the likelihood the owner/landlord can prove it did not act negligently. The owner/landlord should always conduct itself in a manner that shows it is concerned for the safety of its tenants and takes proper precautions to avoid harm to its tenants.

About Octazon:

Whether you own a few properties or hundreds of properties in Florida, Octazon Management, LLC is here to bring order and simplify property ownership and management. We can help you manage any and all of your properties. Call us 888-324-9528 or email us info@octazon.com today.

How to Guarantee a Lease

If you are a leasing agent then you most likely recently turned down a tenant due to their negative credit report. This is the unfortunate reality of our time. However, when this happens –all is not lost so long as the tenant can find someone who can guarantee their financial obligations and responsibilities towards their unit.

Having a guarantor to a lease agreement is a common and popular tool especially during our current economic environment where many applicants have problematic credit scores. The basic function of the lease guarantee is to hold a third party responsible for all unpaid amounts in connection with the tenant’s obligations under the lease. Of course, as a practical matter you should run a credit check against the guarantor to determine if he/she will make a proper guarantor. Once the guarantor is identified and vetted, you are ready to draft the guarantee. For the guarantee to be effective and to hold up in court, the lease guarantee should, at a minimum, have the following elements and structure:

 The lease guarantee should be a separate document and should contain language that specifically references and relates back to the lease. This will prevent the guarantor from later asserting a lack of knowledge about what responsibilities were being guaranteed. It is good form to provide the guarantor with a copy of the lease (and even a copy of any future lease modifications, changes, addendums, extensions and renewals) and have the guarantor sign an acknowledgment that they received a copy of the same and acknowledge the obligation therein.

 The guarantor should be clearly identified in the guarantee agreement and should sign and date the lease guaranty form before 2 witnesses and a notary.

 The guarantor should not sign the lease. Only the occupants of the unit should sign the lease. In other words, the lease guarantee should be a separate and distinct form from the lease.

 The lease guarantee must be in writing and be very specific as to the obligation being guaranteed and the time period for which the guarantor will be guaranteeing the lease. If vague and lending itself to different interpretations and meanings, you run the risk that a court will not uphold the ambiguous language with respect to the terms of the guarantee, effectively eviscerating the guarantee.

 If your lease has renewal or extension language, in order for the guarantors obligations to continue during this new lease period, the guarantee must contain language that makes it clear that the guarantor is also responsible for any subsequent lease renewal and/or extension. Otherwise, you will unintentionally not bind the guarantor for lease renewals and extensions terms. Of course you also want to make sure your guarantee covers addendums, amendments,modifications and changes to the lease terms including increases in rent.

About Octazon:

Whether you own a few properties or hundreds of properties in Florida, Octazon Management, LLC is here to simplify property ownership and management. We can help you manage any and all of your properties. At Octazon we provide simplicity & peace of mind. Call us 888-324-9528 or email us info@octazon.com today.

Unpaid Tenant Water/Sewer Bills

If you rent residential property you most likely ran into a situation where a tenant moved out (or was asked to leave) and did not pay his utility bill.

Many municipalities try to strong arm the landlord into paying the unpaid tenant utility bills on an account opened up in a tenant’s name before they will agree turn on the “juice” for the next tenant.

If this is happening to you, know that a municipality CAN NOT require the owner to pay outstanding tenant utility bills and its threat and refusal to discontinue service for the next tenant is illegal and violates Florida Statute 180.135 and case law.

The law is clear that a utility company or even a municipality providing water a sewer services may not refuse service or discontinue service to either the owner or a prospective tenant due to an unpaid utility bill where service was in the name of a prior tenant.
Florida Statutes §180.135 provides that no municipality may refuse services or discontinue utility, water, or sewer services to the owner of any rental unit or to a tenant or prospective tenant of such rental unit for nonpayment of service charges incurred by a former occupant of the rental unit; any such unpaid service charges incurred by a former occupant will not be the basis for any lien against the rental property or legal action against the present tenant or owner to recover such charges except to the extent that the present tenant or owner has benefited directly from the service provided to the former occupant.

This statute applies only if the former occupant of the rental unit contracted for such services with the municipality or if the municipality provided services with knowledge of the former occupant’s name and period the occupant was provided the services. Even If the landlord had provided the deposit for the utility account, the statute would still apply if the municipality was provided the name of the former tenant and informed of the time period of the tenancy.

It is clear that the Florida Legislature has limited a municipality’s authority to refuse to provide or to discontinue utility services to the owners, tenants or prospective tenants of rental property, based upon the nonpayment for services by a previous tenant. The Florida Statue 180.135, was created in order to eliminate any liability of owners whose tenants default on service payments and to assure utility service to new tenants who move into a rental unit which was formerly occupied by a tenant in default.

This law has been well established in several Florida cases going back decades: Berke v. City of Miami Beach, 568 So.2d 108 (Fla. 3rd DCS 1990) Davis v. Weir 497 F.2d 139 (5th Cir. 1974). Kroger v. Guarino, 412 F. Supp 1375 (E.D. Pa 1976) aff’d 549 F.2d 795 (3rd Cir. 1977).

About Octazon: Whether you own a few properties or hundreds of properties in Florida, Octazon Management, LLC is here to simplify property ownership and management. We can help you manage any and all of your properties. At Octazon we provide simplicity & peace of mind. Call us 888-324-9528 or email us at info@octazon.com today.

Why Realtors Should NOT Do Property Management

Realtors and Property Management should not mix.

Many real estate agents take on property management services as a courtesy to their important investor clients. Management is important – but distracting. Agents are burdened with all the reporting, collection, disbursement of funds, payment of bills and maintenance responsibilities, which preclude them from making more sales. They just don’t have the time to do what they do best – help investors purchase more properties. Additionally, real estate agents with property management responsibilities tend to limit the geographical area where they will show investment properties for fear that the drive between managed properties will be too time consuming.

Realtors should stick to what they do best – making the sale – and let a property management company do what they do best – managing their sales.

Octazon Management provides professional property management service for real estate sales professionals and brokers. At Octazon we provide simplicity and peace of mind!

When providing management services to real estate professionals and brokers, Octazon will not provide the leasing or sales- so the Realtor will never have to worry about losing control over the client.

Whether you own a few properties or hundreds of properties in Florida, Octazon Management, LLC is here to simplify property ownership and management. We can help you manage any and all of your properties. Call us 888-324-9528 or email us info@octazon.com today.

Check us out @ www.octazon.com

“Single Family Residential–REO – Multifamily- Commercial- Office-Industrial”

Now Is A Great Time to Invest In Single Family Homes

Are you wondering if now is a good time to invest in single family homes? The answer is yes! Investing in single-family homes has become big business.

While Florida has had it share of suffering in the real estate market due to record foreclosures and a weak economy, it also left many people running to rent houses instead of buying due to their credit and other financial obstacles.  For an investor this translates as a good time to purchase single family homes and rent them out.  Mom-and-pop outfits, investment firms, hedge funds, private equity partnerships and real estate investors have all become big buyers of single-family homes- so why not you?

According to CNNMoney, Miami is one of the top 10 cities with the highest rent spikes in 2012, with a year-over-year rise of 10.8%, vacancy rate of 4% and median monthly rent of $1,900.

Additionally, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. expects U.S. home prices to rise 3.4% up to 9.7% depending on certain economic growth factors.

So stop sitting on the sidelines and start buying your properties and put in tenants.  Invest in single family homes and see returns. When the economy improves to the point where your renters can afford to buy again, sell and maximize your investment.

Being an investor is one thing- but being a landlord is a distraction.

When it comes to managing your residential properties, Octazon Management has got you covered. Our full-service property management company can handle everything from maintenance and landscaping to screening potential residents and even marketing and advertising your properties online.

Octazon is here to help bring you peace of mind by effectively managing any and all of your property needs. We provide you with the best service possible, managing your properties efficiently with advanced technology that allows us to stay connected with, and maintain transparency with, our clients.

With Octazon, rest easy, because we bring order to residential property ownership.

Call us 888-324-9528 or email us at info@octazon.com today.

Check us out @ www.octazon.com

“Single Family Residential – REO – Multifamily”