Holiday Decoration Displays

RIGHTS TO DISPLAY RELIGIOUS DECORATIONS

Be careful not to restrict your Tenants Religious  Freedom and their First Amendment rights

As we are full swing into the holiday season, landlords need to be careful not to trigger a fair housing complaint filed by an apartment renter who claims they are a victim of religious discrimination.

Landlords should re-familiarize themselves  with an earlier blog I wrote called “Happy whatever Day” regarding the rights of tenants to put up holiday decoration displays and religious symbols AND remember that it is only the lobbies, hallways and other common areas of your property where you need to concern yourself in making sure they are maintained in a religiously neutral state.

However, while common area religious displays should be avoided, residents should always be allowed to decorate their units as they desire and display any personal religious items in their own apartments.

But what about placing their holiday decoration displays or religious symbols on their windows, their front doors or balconies?  Tenants should be allowed to display their religious items, even on the outside of their individual apartment doors. However, the landlord can create fair polices (that are enforced consistently) for seasonal displays that face the outside and  can limit these seasonal holiday decoration displays  to a specific period of time, for example a two-week period, to avoid having these decorations still hanging around in the spring.

Always endeavor to create an atmosphere that is inclusive and welcoming for all faiths and traditions. Most often, this is the best way to avoid complaints and ensure a peaceful and harmonious holiday season for all you tenants.

However, you can’t please all – and if other tenants complain about how their neighbor is decorating the outside of their unit, before you make a rash decision or take any action, call your lawyer for guidance.

 

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.  Octazon uses cutting edge, cloud based property management software that fully integrates the entire property management and financial process enabling the investor direct access to valuable owner/investor information 24/7.

When providing management services to Realtors, Octazon will NOT provide the leasing, rentals or sales – so you never have to worry about losing control of your relationship with the owner. 

Providing Simplicity and Peace of Mind™ 

Call us 954-674-2467 or email us at info@octazon.com today.

                        Check us out @ www.octazon.com 

SINGLE FAMILY HOMES- MULTI FAMILY-COMMERCIAL- OFFICE-INDUSTRIAL

Landlord Liable for Dog Bites by Tenant’s Pet?

THE LANDLORDS LIABILITY FOR A DOG BITE

Frequently we get 911 calls from non clients who are self managing owners, who are panicking due to a lawsuit caused by their tenant’s dog biting a guest on the property.

Most recently, this common question took on a higher level of concern since this owner did not have insurance,  a written lease, nor a pet agreement ( 3 more reasons why property management  should be left to the  professionals like Octazon).

So how much trouble is such an owner in when a dog bites a visitor to the property? Is the Landlord Liable for Dog Bites? Is the Property Owner responsible for tenants’  dangerous pets? ( To learn more about tenants with dangerous dogs see our earlier blog here).

Florida Statute Chapter 767, specifically deals with damage caused by dogs and creates a strict liability for the owner of a dog (which means if a dog bites someone, the owner of the dog is held liable for all damage and injuries). Simply put, there is no mulligan or do over for the owner of the dog because the owner never expected its dog to bite someone. Ignorance in this case is not bliss.

But this statute really addresses the owner of the dog and their liability for dog bites or other injuries to a person, and doesn’t address the owner of the property – the landlord.  Is the landlord also responsible and held culpable for the tenant’s conduct – for the tenant’s negligence and carelessness?

Based upon the statute and even case law, the landlord’s liability is unclear. However, it appears that the liability of landlord is governed by the knowledge of the landlord that (a) the tenant had a dog and (b) the dog had a propensity to bite.

If the landlord truly had no knowledge of any dog, then the landlord should not be liable for the damage caused to others by the tenant’s dog.  But if the landlord did have knowledge of a dog, the question then arises, should the landlord have known that the dog was dangerous, aggressive, had a history of causing problems, bit another person or pet before, etc?

If the landlord knew the tenant had a dog, BUT had no knowledge that the tenant’s dog was dangerous, aggressive, etc…, the injured person will likely have a tough time holding the owner of the property liable under Florida Statutes or under a negligence theory – despite the landlord knowing the tenant had a dog.

So in this caller’s situation, the focus of a lawsuit would be on the knowledge of the landlord –did the landlord know the tenant had a dog and whether the dog had a propensity to bite or if it was a dangerous breed.   If it can be proven that the landlord had knowledge of the dog and that it had a propensity to bite, then case law has held the landlord liable for dog bites. Unfortunately, the entire case would turn upon these set of facts -what did the landlord know and what did the landlord do.  Proving your version of the events may be quite expensive.

The case called Jerry Knoble  v. Sue A Yorke 490 So. 2nd 29 (SC of Fla. 1986), is an important case regarding liability.  Additionally, there are numerous other cases which parse the issue depending on landlord’s knowledge, landlord’s knowledge of viciousness and landlord’s posting of “Bad Dog” signs in the event of knowledge of a vicious dog warning of viciousness.  Also, if the bite took place off of the property of the landlord and in the easement owned by the city that would be another out for the landlord.

 

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.  Octazon uses cutting edge, cloud based property management software that fully integrates the entire property management and financial process enabling the investor direct access to valuable owner/investor information 24/7.

When providing management services to Realtors, Octazon will NOT provide the leasing, rentals or sales – so you never have to worry about losing control of your relationship with the owner. 

                         Providing Simplicity and Peace of Mind™ 

Call us 954-674-2467 or email us at info@octazon.com today.

                            Check us out @ www.octazon.com 

SINGLE FAMILY HOMES * MULTI FAMILY * COMMERCIAL- OFFICE -INDUSTRIAL

Tenant’s Dangerous Dog – Pit Bulls and Others

THE PIT BULL DILEMMA

Imagine going to visit your rental property for a check up or to deliver a 3 day notice and to your surprise your tenant recently got a new roommate – a pit bull or some other similar dangerous breed. Other than run, what else should or can you do? Your tenant’s dangerous dog may be more than just a worry – it could be a legal liability. ( See our blog post here about Landlord liability for dog bites)

In general, a pit bull is a dangerous breed and to own one may likely be in violation of many city and or county codes and ordinances.

So what can be done about a tenant’s dangerous dog or other pet?

Step 1: Check your local code and ordinances. For example: It is illegal in Miami-Dade County to own or keep American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, or any other dog that substantially conforms to any of these breeds’ characteristics, and there is  a $500 fine for acquiring or keeping a pit bull dog .  Broward County has not been successful in passing a law banning pit bulls. However in the City of Lauderhill, while they don’t ban pit bulls, they do have a pit bull regulation for dogs that have previously attacked, requiring its owner to maintain significant insurance.

In 1990, Florida legislators banned any municipality from passing legislation that targets a particular breed — laws often referred to as breed-specific legislation, or BSLs. Such a ban against pit-bull type dogs only survives in Miami-Dade County and any other county whose county wide ordinance pre-dates the state law.

Step 2 : So long as the tenant is not claiming their pit bull is an assistive animal, if your local code considers a pit bull a dangerous breed, then  you can insist that the tenant immediately remove the pit bull or be subject to a 7 day notice of termination of lease.  However, if there are no local ordinances regulating the pit bull then so long as the animal is well behaved, you are out of luck and your only option is not to renew the lease.

Going forward: To control the decision of having or not having pit bulls or other dangerous breeds on your property,  you should consider adding the following language to your prospective tenant application form:

Pets are permitted only on certain properties at the sole discretion and written approval of the Property Owner and upon signing a “Pet Addendum” to the lease. Only small to medium sized, non-violent, common domesticated animals will be allowed on any property that permits animals. Farm animals, snakes, other reptiles, exotic animals, and any large or aggressive animal will not be approved including but not limited to: Rottweiler’s, American Staffordshire Terriers (pit bulls), American Pit Bull Terriers, Dobermans and German Shepherds.

Of course – you must waive any animal restriction in a case where an animal is proven necessary to accommodate a person with a disability.

We will blog at a future date on how to address a request from a tenant who insists that their dangerous breed – assistance animal live with them.

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.  Octazon uses cutting edge, cloud based property management software that fully integrates the entire property management and financial process enabling the investor direct access to valuable owner/investor information 24/7.

When providing management services to Realtors, Octazon will NOT provide the leasing, rentals or sales – so you never have to worry about losing control of your relationship with the owner. 

Providing Simplicity and Peace of Mind™ 

Call us 954-674-2467 or email us at info@octazon.com today.

                                 Check us out @ www.octazon.com 

SINGLE FAMILY HOMES* MULTI FAMILY *COMMERCIAL – OFFICE – INDUSTRIAL

ILLEGAL ACTIVITY BY TENANTS – IMMEDIATE LEASE TERMINATON

THE SEVEN DAY NOTICE – Immediate Termination of Lease Due to Illegal Activity

Do you have a problem of illegal activity by tenants in one of your properties? Have you been put on notice by the police or other tenants? –  If the answer is yes you should strongly consider immediately terminating the lease by sending your tenant a 7 day notice, to avoid exposing yourself and/or your property to liability.

Under Florida Statute, if such noncompliance is of a nature that the tenant should not be given an opportunity to cure, then deliver a written notice to the tenant specifying the noncompliance and the landlord’s intent to immediately terminate the rental agreement due to the illegal activity by tenant.

Examples of noncompliance which are of a nature that the tenant should not be given an opportunity to cure include, but are not limited to: destruction, damage, or misuse of the landlord’s or other tenants’ property by intentional act; or a subsequent or continued unreasonable disturbance; or using your property for illegal activity; or if the tenant attempted to sexually molest a minor; or struck another tenant or the maintenance supervisor etc…..

In these types of events, the landlord may immediately terminate the rental agreement and the tenant shall have 7 days from the date that the notice is delivered to vacate the premises.

The notice shall be in substantially the following form: 

“You are advised that your lease is terminated effective immediately. You shall have 7 days from the delivery of this letter to vacate the premises. This action is taken because  (cite the noncompliance)”.

Tips when filling out a seven day notice:

Include all tenants who signed the lease – their full and exact names and the full address of the residential property, including the county.

When citing the noncompliance, it must be of a nature that the tenant should not be given opportunity to cure.   Do not be vague- be extremely specific!  ***Do not accept rent *** Do not also issue a 3 Day Notice.**

For more information see Florida Statute Section 83.52 & 83.56 (2) (a).

 

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.  Octazon uses cutting edge, cloud based property management software that fully integrates the entire property management and financial process enabling the investor direct access to valuable owner/investor information 24/7.

When providing management services to Realtors, Octazon will NOT provide the leasing, rentals or sales – so you never have to worry about losing control of your relationship with the owner. 

Providing Simplicity and Peace of Mind™ 

Call us 954-674-2467 or email us at info@octazon.com today.

Check us out @ www.octazon.com 

SINGLE FAMILY HOMES * MULTI FAMILY * COMMERCIAL- OFFICE – INDUSTRIAL

New Tenants and Outstanding Utility Bills – North Miami Beach

CLASS ACTION : OVERCHARGING NEW TENANTS FOR UNPAID FORMER TENANT’S WATER & SEWER BILLS – AND THE CITY OF NORTH MIAMI BEACH 

It’s official : New Tenants and Outstanding Utility Bills are not connected to one another!

If an unpaid utility bill is in the former tenant’s name & not in the landlord’s name, then under Florida law, a utility provider may NOT ; Ask for payment of unpaid utility bills from the landlord, Discontinue service or Refuse the new tenant service to the property. To do so is illegal and violates Florida Statute 180.135, case law, the Municipal Public Works Act & the Florida Consumer Collection Practice Act.

Additionally, the utility provider can not  place any lien against the rental property or take any legal action against the Landlord or new  tenant  to recover overdue bills. In Berke v. City of Miami Beach, 568 So.2d 108 (Fla. 3rd DCS 1990) the City of Miami Beach filed a lien against the rental property for the unpaid utility bills of the former tenants. The court of appeals ruled, that the City could not impose a lien against the rental property. The fact that the former tenants received utilities, was deemed not to be a benefit to the landlord. The Court further stated that the City should have protected itself by requiring the landlord to co-sign for the utility account.

(Read about this problem also here in a previous blog post)

So,one would think that since the law is very clear, new tenants and landlords should not be hassled by a utility provider to pay the bills of former tenants. Surprisingly, that is not  case.

If onboarding new tenants and outstanding utility bills is an issue with your rental properties then Push back! Tell them the law! Let them know that recently a class action was certified by a Miami Dade Circuit Judge, alleging that the City of North Miami Beach has been illegally charging  utility connection fees, forcing  new tenants to pay delinquent bills of  former occupants before they could receive water and sewer service. Since the law is clear, the lawsuit claims that the city’s collection efforts of outstanding utility bills from former tenants has been in violation of several state laws

This practice, says Patrick Montoya, an attorney representing this class action suit, “has likely victimized hundreds if not thousands of tenants”.

It is about time that we are taking this fight to the courts to stop these illegal charges. They add up and impact the return on your investment.

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.  Octazon uses cutting edge, cloud based property management software that fully integrates the entire property management and financial process enabling the investor direct access to valuable owner/investor information 24/7.

When providing management services to Realtors, Octazon will NOT provide the leasing, rentals or sales –  so you never have to worry about losing control of your relationship with the owner. 

Providing Simplicity and Peace of Mind™ 

Call us 954-674-2467 or email us at info@octazon.com today.

                                            Check us out @ www.octazon.com 

SINGLE FAMILY HOMES * MULTI FAMILY COMMERCIAL – OFFICE -INDUSTRIAL

Buying a Foreclosure with Existing Tenant – Part 2

BUYING A FORECLOSURE PROPERTY WITH AN EXISTING TENANT & THE PTFA – PART II

In February of 2014, I blogged about the importance for investors who are buying a property in foreclosure with existing tenants and who want to immediately evict the existing tenant, because they are dead beats – they must first be familiar with the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act – the PTFA. (To see a copy of the PTFA click here).

That blog discussed how the PTFA requires a buyer of a foreclosure to give the current tenant that has no lease a 90 day notice to vacate the investment property before filing an eviction. And if you give a tenant less than a 90 day notice, you will be in violation of the PTFA and risk the court dismissing your eviction action. (To read Part I of this article See Blog here).

In a recent PTFA case, CitiMortgage, Inc., Vs. Lutz, the court reconfirmed the 90 day safe harbor for tenants by holding that if the owner jumps the gun and files its eviction before the 90 day grace period and is successful, the tenant can have the writ of possession quashed and your eviction ruling set aside allowing them to finish out their 90 days in peace.

However, the above case (which ruled in the 7th Judicial Circuit in and for Volusia County) also provided some reprieve for the investor  who jumps the gun before the 90 days. The court ruled that since there was no lease governing this tenancy, the tenants’ attorney under the PTFA was NOT entitled to an award of attorney’s fees.

While this ruling limits the consequences of your actions – avoid going down this path in the first place by making sure your eviction is filed timely.

When it comes to managing your single, multi family or commercial properties, or second homes, rest easy – Octazon Management has got you covered, can protect your assets and take away your property management headaches and distractions through providing professional property management through our full-service or back office property management services. 

Octazon has a relationship with a top eviction law firm. Based on our relationship, this law firm provides Octazon’s investors with great service & special rates.       

Providing Simplicity and Peace of Mind™ 

Call us 954-674-2467 or email us at info@octazon.com today.

                                       Check us out @ www.octazon.com 

SINGLE FAMILY HOMES * MULTI FAMILY * COMMERCIAL – OFFICE – INDUSTRIAL

Pets vs. Assistive Animals – Tenant Disability Rights under FHA & HUD

Rights to Assistive Animals for Disabled Tenants

I recently gave a seminar to Realtors and Investors on the difference between pets and assistive (service) animals. I wished to sensitize them to the real world financial risks of ignoring a disabled tenant’s (prospective or current) request for assistive animals.

As of April 2013 both the Fair Housing Act (FHA) & the Federal Housing Administration (HUD)  expanded the definition of service animals to apply its protective rules to ALL assistive/service animals – even emotional support and comfort animals.

Therefore, according to the Tenant Disability Rights under both FHA & HUD, persons with disabilities may now request a reasonable accommodation for any assistance animals, including an emotional support and comfort animal.

AND HERE IS WHAT YOU NEED TO REMEMBER:Assistive animals can range from a miniature horse to an iguana or monkey and the list of the various types of assistance animals keeps on growing;

  • While all pets may be animals NOT all animals are pets;
  • Assistive animals aren’t animals of choice, like a pet, but rather a necessity;
  • These animals are NOT legally required to have ANY special training, tags or certifications.

BOTTOM LINE:

Any animal that assists a disabled person is a service animal. It doesn’t make a difference what service it provides.

———–

When it comes to managing your single, multi family & commercial properties, rest easy – Octazon Management has got you covered, we can protect your assets and take away your property management headaches and distractions through our full-service or back office property management services. Octazon uses advanced technology that allows us to stay connected and maintain transparency with our clients.

When providing management services to Realtors, Octazon will NOT provide the leasing, rentals or sales– so you never have to worry about losing control of your relationship with the owner. 

With Octazon, 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  

THE WELL DRAFTED COMMERCIAL LEASE – Landlord Rights & Remedies

Landlord take note – there is significant benefit to creating a well drafted commercial lease.

While the Florida’s commercial Landlord and Tenant statute, Chapter 83 Part I, provides a general framework for enforcing the landlord’s remedies, many of the statutory rights and duties may be modified or waived between the parties in a well crafted lease. Additionally, in the commercial arena, case law also plays a large role in interpreting the commercial landlord and tenant relationship.

For example, the strict and specific laws about security deposits found in the Florida’s residential Landlord Tenant Statute, Part II does not apply to the commercial arena. Rather, security deposits are governed by whatever the parties agree to be bound to, as set forth in the lease between the parties, while the liquidated damage provisions are governed by case law.

 In residential leases it is common for the Realtor and investor to gravitate towards a form lease promulgated by the Board of Realtors and Florida Supreme Court – “The FAR\BAR Lease” – which is very Tenant friendly leaving the landlord without important protections. (See more in our article on the subject – Landlord Friendly Leases )

However, when it comes to a commercial lease, landlords should instruct their Realtors to take advantage of the benefit that case law and waiver plays in the commercial arena and therefore, instruct their agents to engage a strong commercial attorney to draft a commercial lease and insist that a standard or generic commercial form not be used. A strong, detailed, sophisticated commercial lease needs to be tailored for the specific transaction and property to provide the necessary rights and remedies of the Landlord, and to be most protective of the Landlord and their investment.

It is important that the customized terms of the commercial lease be drafted clearly since any ambiguity in the lease is construed against the drafter. So make sure to engage an attorney familiar with commercial transactions.

When it comes to managing your multi family & commercial properties, rest easy – Octazon Management has got you covered, can protect your assets and take away your property management headaches and distractions through our full-service or back office property management services. Octazon uses advanced technology that allows us to stay connected and maintain transparency with our clients.

When providing management services to Realtors, Octazon will NOT provide the leasing, rentals or sales – so you never have to worry about losing control of your relationship with the owner. 

With Octazon, we bring order to residential property ownership.

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

REALTORS BEWARE LEGAL HOLIDAYS IN 3 DAY EVICTION NOTICE

If you’re preparing a 3 day eviction notice, be aware that Legal Holidays do not count as days, including Memorial Day.

With Memorial Day just around the corner, it’s a time to reflect and honor all Americans who have died while in the military service.

Memorial Day is not to be confused with Veterans Day. Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving, while Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans.

Memorial Day typically marks the start of the summer vacation season, while Labor Day marks its end.

As this is a legal holiday, it is NOT to be counted as one of the days in your count of the 3 day eviction notice. Therefore, if you recently sent out a 3 day notice to a tenant, double check to see how you COMPUTED THE EXPIRATION DATE ON THE NOTICE.  An error, such as wrongly calculating the date of expiration on your Notice can render both the Notice, and ultimately the eviction, to be defective and you will have wasted your valuable time.

TIP: When preparing a 3 day notice, always check to see what holidays are coming up, as this leads to a huge source of incorrect notices that get disregarded by the court.  Only legal holidays observed by the court (courthouse closed) in the county where the property is located must be excluded from the 3-day notice count.

For more tips on legally producing the 3 day notice, see our article COLUMBUS DAY – CORRECTLY DATING THE EXPIRATION DATE OF THE 3 DAY NOTICE 

When it comes to managing your single, multi family & commercial properties, rest easy – Octazon Management has got you covered, can protect your assets and take away your property management headaches and distractions through our full-service or back office property management services. Octazon uses advanced technology that allows us to stay connected and maintain transparency with our clients.

When providing management services to Realtors, Octazon will NOT provide the leasing, rentals or sales  – so you never have to worry about losing control of your relationship with the owner. 

With Octazon, 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  

ASSET PROTECTION PART II

In January of this year, we discussed the importance for investors who are buying real estate that they should create a legal entity (like a corporation, trust, partnership, limited liability company etc…) to own the property so as to protect oneself from personal liability, i.e. to provide asset protection. That owning property in ones name exposes oneself to liability.

For those who took my advice and created a legal entity to asset protect themselves, you need to be aware of the following important dates that requires action on your part to maintain your legal entity in “good standing’ with the State and avoid an additional $400 non-negotiable late fee as required by law.

Florida Statutes require all Corporations, Limited Liability Companies and Limited Partnerships to file an Annual Report on or before May 1, 2014, to maintain “active” status and avoid administrative dissolution or revocation.  Failure to file the 2014 Annual Report by September 26th, as required by law, will result in the entity’s administrative dissolution or revocation.  If administratively dissolved or revoked, the entity may reinstate by paying the required annual report filing fee and the additional non-negotiable reinstatement fee.  In other words, you will incur a late penalty fee, reinstatement fee and put your entity into a “no good” standing category with the Secretary of State which may cause you to possibly lose your entities name and your asset protection.

Stay in business -do not delay- keep your corporate records active with the State by filing your Annual Report on or before May 1, 2014.

You can quickly and easily file your Annual Report by going to www.sunbiz.org –  Florida Department of State Division of  Corporations, click on the e-filing services tab, click on Annual Report and follow the simple instructions.

When it comes to managing your single, multi family or commercial properties, rest easy – Octazon Management has got you covered and can protect your assets and take away your property management headaches and distractions through our full-service or back office property management services.

When providing management services to Realtors, Octazon will NOT provide the leasing, rentals or sales– so you never have to worry about losing control of your relationship with the owner. 

With Octazon, we bring order to residential property ownership.  Call us 888-324-9528 or email us at info@octazon.com . Check us out @ www.octazon.com