July 4th – Fireworks , Hazards and Safety

July 4th

I previously blogged about July 4th and how it brings out the patriotism in people including your Tenants. In that blog we discussed the proper use of displaying a U.S. flag. ( see the article on my blog here)

In this new blog, we will discuss one of the dangers of July 4th – fireworks. While fireworks can look cool and create a buzz of excitement, believe it or not – not everyone loves fireworks. On July 4th, more U.S. fires are reported than on any other day, and fireworks account for two out of five of those fires. Even more shocking is according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,   July 4th is the third most-deadly holiday celebrated in the U.S. following Thanksgiving and Labor Day.

So what are landlords to do to protect its tenants and their property:  For starters, there is the dissemination of the basic safety tips from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission:  Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks – Never place any part of your body directly over a firework  when lighting the fuse and always  back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks. Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully. Never point or throw fireworks at another person. And most important keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap and after fireworks complete their burning, douse the firework with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.

It is best to make tenants aware of the rules regarding fireworks and other explosive devices at the inception of renting, by having a clause in your lease that prohibits their usage in or around the property. A sample good lease clause is:

Explosive devices, smoke bombs, firecrackers, flares, sparklers, fireworks or any other noise, smoke, flame or spark-creating item or novelty is expressly prohibited in the Property or anywhere on the Property or common areas. Possession of and/or use of any of the foregoing by the Tenant, any occupants or guests of the Tenant whether or not the items are legal or illegal to purchase, possess or use under the laws of the State of Florida, may subject the Tenant to eviction from the premises and shall constitute a serious default under the terms of the Lease Agreement.

If your leases do not contain the above clause or a similar one, then add this to your rules and regulations and notify each new tenant of the revision. Upon lease renewal, add in language as part of the lease renewal.

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.  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

This BLOG is to provide helpful information and should not be considered legal advice 

APRIL IS NATIONAL FAIR HOUSING MONTH PART III – Tenants with Children

FAIR HOUSING LAWS REGARDING CHILDREN

During the month of April, Fair Housing will be celebrated across the country. ( See our previous blogs on the subject : April is National Fair Housing Month – Know the Laws ; April is National Fair Housing Housing Month Part II – Advertising Caution) .

One of the Fair housing no no’s is: Do not discriminate against a tenant on the basis of familial status, i.e. do not turn down a prospective tenant or take action against an existing tenant, simply because they have children.

Fair Housing violations can even come about with the best intentions – trying to be helpful. For example, telling a mom that you have a better property or unit down the block for their kids. This is called steering. So, when you are talking to a prospective or existing tenant with children – watch what you say and what you do!

So, what can you do if other tenants complain about the children next door who make noise, slam doors, blast music and video games and bang their drums 24-7? Is the handling of that type of kid disturbance an exception to the Fair Housing rules? The answer is NO! Noise is noise and if the noise and disturbance is excessive then deal with it like any other real disturbance. Do not focus on the fact that it is the children making the noise and never focus on the age of the noisemaker. You never want the tenant to misinterpret your actions as really complaining about their children and not the real problem – the noise. Simply address it like any other noise disturbance and if necessary, a Seven Day Notice of Noncompliance with Opportunity to Cure can be served.

Remember, your Tenants have a contractual right to “quiet enjoyment” and if that is being breached, then it is ok to take appropriate action to resolve – regardless of the age of the noisemaker. So long as your rules apply to everyone & not just children, you are good.

Fair Housing Month is a reminder for all: property managers, realtors, asset managers, maintenance teams and any one else dealing with a tenant (whether prospective or actual) – to be very careful and diligent in not violating the Fair Housing Laws – they are very costly to defend and resolve.

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. 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 Email us at info@octazon.com today.

Check us out @ www.octazon.com  SINGLE FAMILY HOMES- MULTI FAMILY – COMMERCIAL – OFFICE INDUSTRIAL

This BLOG is to provide helpful information and should not be considered legal advice

APRIL IS NATIONAL FAIR HOUSING MONTH PART II – Advertising Caution

In my last blog I noted that during the month of April, Fair Housing will be celebrated across the country, as a reminder that when dealing with a tenant (whether prospective or actual) to be very careful and diligent in not violating the Fair Housing Laws. ( See- April is National Fair Housing Month – Know the Laws)

Owners and Investors need to be careful how they advertise to prospective Tenants.

Of course it is ok to market your property and accentuate the features, amenities, qualities of your property and its location,BUT DO NOT MARKET for the type of tenant you want.

For example: Do not advertise or make statements that make a potential tenant feel unwanted by using words like -restricted, safe, exclusive, private, integrated, traditional, perfect for  single professional or great for young couples. All these phrases can be considered discriminatory towards prospective renters simply because they imply that you restrict to whom you rent.

A good idea is to use the fair housing logo or include a statement of non-discrimination at the end of each ad.

Remember Fair Housing claims can be expensive and damaging to your reputation so avoid these common Fair Housing mistakes.

When it comes to managing your single, multi family, 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 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

APRIL IS NATIONAL FAIR HOUSING MONTH – KNOW THE LAWS

During the month of April, Fair Housing will be celebrated across the country.

The Fair Housing Laws are there to protect people’s basic rights and dignity. It is a punishable offense to violate them.

Fair Housing Month is a reminder for all: property managers, realtors, asset managers, maintenance teams and any one else dealing with a tenant (whether prospective or actual) – to be very careful and diligent in not violating the Fair Housing Laws.

Among the more common Fair Housing mistakes are:

  • Failing to train all employees who interact with a tenant or prospective tenant on Fair Housing laws;
  • Denying a disabled tenant’s request for comfort or emotional support animal because your lease doesn’t allow pets or denying a disabled tenant’s request for a more convenient parking spot simply because you feel its unnecessary;
  • Asking a prospective tenant inappropriate questions such as “How many kids do you have?” or “Are you pregnant or married?” or “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?” or “What is your age?”; And
  • Failing to track the other additional protected classes beyond the “Federal Seven” in your city, county or local area of operation.

It’s a litigious world, so EDUCATE & PROTECT YOURSELF & YOUR TEAM……… You can do this by:

1 Disseminating important Fair Housing information to your team

2. Post Fair Housing posters in your management office

3. Document your actions so you can justify it later in the event of litigation

4. Adopt written policies and stick to them….. Be Consistent in your enforcement!

5. Test your staff. From time to time check to be sure that your leasing staff is following the rules- do mock phone calls and see how they respond.

6. Go to one of Octazon’s seminars and continuous education classes.

For More on Free Housing and how to advertise your property according to the laws, check out part two of this post – APRIL IS NATIONAL FAIR HOUSING MONTH PART II – Advertising Caution  

When it comes to managing your single, multi family, 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 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

CONDO – HOA ASSOCIATION DISCRIMINATION – Part II

Back in November 2013, I blogged about Homeowners Association Discrimination -associations potentially discriminating against prospective tenants. Recently Broward County passed an Ordinance that an association denying an approval must give a written reason. Hopefully, the affect of this Ordinance, at least in Broward, will keep associations honest in their reason for denial and better yet, limit denials that were previously discriminatory in nature.  Here is a summary of that Ordinance. 

ORDINANCE NO. 2013-29, AN ORDINANCE OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF BROWARD COUNTY, FLORIDA, RELATING TO THE HUMAN RIGHTS ACT; AMENDING SECTION 16½-35 OF THE BROWARD COUNTY CODE OF ORDINANCES (“CODE”) TO INCLUDE A PROVISION REQUIRING BOARDS SUCH AS CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATIONS, HOMEOWNERS’ ASSOCIATIONS, AND COOPERATIVE ASSOCIATIONS TO PROVIDE WRITTEN NOTICE REGARDING THE STATUS OF AN APPLICATION TO RENT OR PURCHASE A DWELLING AND, IF THE APPLICATION IS DENIED, TO EXPRESSLY STATE IN WRITING THE REASON(S) FOR THE DENIAL.

 Without the benefit of an ordinance like the above and if not making a discrimination claim against the association, if you believe that the association is acting unreasonably by withholding approval to the prospective tenant, the owner may have a claim against the association for not allowing the landlord to freely rent their unit (i.e. restraint on alienation).

When it comes to managing your single, multi family, 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 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 BREAK IN – WHO’S RESPONSIBLE TO REPAIR OR REPLACE

If you manage or own a bunch of properties, it is likely that at some point you will receive a call from one of your multi-family tenants that someone busted a window or door and broke into their unit. The tenant will then request that the landlord fix their door or window or other burglary damages. What’s a landlord obligated to do in such a situation?


The answer is not so simple – and encroaches upon a gray area.

In general when a situation like this happens (an alleged crime is being reported by your tenant), ask the tenant if he/she filed a police report. If he/she says no – ask why not? If one was not filed it is suspect that some burglar really broke the door and window. Perhaps the tenant did and is making this up to have the landlord fix the problem.  Under FS 83.51(4), a tenant is responsible for any damage caused by the tenant, a member of the tenant’s family, or other person on the premises with the tenant’s consent.


If however the tenant did file a police report, ask for a copy.  If this tenant was truly a victim of a third party crime, it is quite possible the judge will allocate the repair responsibility to the landlord – despite language in the lease to the contrary.   When there is a criminal act involved, it is very challenging to predict how a judge will respond and you can’t simply rely on the language in the lease.


Therefore, if a police report was generated and the tenant is asking for the door/window to be repaired, the owner should get the door/window repaired ASAP and then later on figure out who will be responsible to pay.  


If the same situation occurred in a single family home or duplex and the lease allocated all repairs to the tenant, such a clause may hold up since these types of properties allow for the landlord to place greater burdens and obligations on the tenant.


When it comes to managing your single, multi family or commercial properties, rest easy – Octazon Management has got you covered and can take away your property management headaches and distractions. Our full-service property management company can handle everything from tenant and vendor management to maintenance and landscaping, to providing an up to date PDF strong LANDLORD lease prepared by an attorney (through Octazon Law), 3 day notices, eviction management, detailed financial reports and many other services through our 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 . Check us out @ www.octazon.com 

LANDLORD FRIENDLY LEASES

Are you using an outdated lease? Or worse yet, is your lease a form lease promulgated by the Board of Realtors and Florida Supreme Court – “The FAR\BAR Lease”?

If the answer is yes, then you should know that your lease may be outdated and not in compliance with Florida Statute. Additionally, these lease forms are very Tenant friendly leaving the Landlord without important protections. Remember, the landlord-tenant relationship is governed by the lease terms and Florida statutory law.

If you are an investor, be sure your lease is specifically a Florida lease as you are governed by Florida law.  If you are a local Realtor and are using a form lease, make sure it is a strong and clearly written landlord friendly lease that is up to date, in compliance with Florida Statute with the protective language your investor needs!

 When it comes to managing your single, multi family or commercial properties, rest easy – Octazon Management has got you covered and can take away your property management headaches and distractions. Our full-service property management company can handle everything from tenant and vendor management to maintenance and landscaping, to providing an up to date PDF strong, LANDLORD lease  prepared by an attorney (through Octazon Law),  3 day notices, eviction management, detailed financial reports and many other services through our 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 . Check us out @ www.octazon.com

HAPPY WHATEVER DAY

Tis the Season to be confused about what holiday symbol to display. There are clear regulations about Displaying Religious Symbols. Display the wrong symbols and you may be violating the Fair Housing Act. Fair housing laws protect tenants from discrimination in housing based on the person’s religion (or lack of religion). Religious decorations and displays in the common areas may suggest to tenants that the landlord or management company favors tenants with a particular religious affiliation.

While there is nothing unlawful about putting up holiday decorations, landlords and management companies must avoid displays that give the impression the landlord or Management Company favors one religion over another. Of course we must also be sensitive to the atheists and agnostics who are entitled to exactly the same fair housing rights as any other group.  By displaying religious decorations you are implying you only want renters who are religious.

So, does this mean you should avoid displaying holiday decorations?  

It has been well established within fair housing laws that multi family communities may decorate for the holidays as long as the decorations create a neutral environment showing   no religious preference over another but instead displays symbols of all faiths. This may be challenging with all the different religions that celebrate their holiday during this season. A safer more practical approach would be displaying decorations that are more generic in nature than religious.

HUD and the courts have determined that Christmas trees, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, candy canes colored lights, snowmen, Kwanza logs, angels, the Hanukkah menorah –candelabra, Hanukkah dreidels and other such decorations are not religious decorations and therefore you can display these items and not be in violation of the Fair Housing Act.

BUT – Nativity scenes, crosses, bibles, “happy birthday Jesus” signs, Stars of David, are all definitely religious in nature rather than secular, and should not be displayed  in the common  areas ( unless, as mentioned above you are willing to undergo the daunting task of display decorations of all other faiths.

(Click Here for our new blog post on this topic).

When it comes to managing your single, multi family or commercial properties, rest easy – Octazon Management has got you covered and can take away your property management headaches and distractions. Our full-service property management company can handle everything from tenant and vendor management to maintenance and landscaping, to providing an up to date pdf strong LANDLORD lease prepared by an attorney (through Octazon Law), 3 day notices, eviction management, detailed financial reports and many other services through our 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 . Check us out @ www.octazon.com 

THANKSGIVING & YOUR SMOKE ALARM

Having a happy Thanksgiving begins with having a safe Thanksgiving. As our nation comes together to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday I would like to share with you some safety tips for both the Landlord and Tenant.   

 

According to data from the United States Fire Administration, an estimated 2,000 Thanksgiving Day fires in residential buildings occur annually in the United States, resulting in an estimated average of five deaths, 25 injuries, and $21 million in property loss each year. The leading cause of all Thanksgiving Day fires in residential buildings is cooking. In addition, these fires occur most frequently in the afternoon hours from noon to 4 p.m. And unfortunately, smoke alarms were not present in 20 percent of non- confined Thanksgiving Day fires that occurred in occupied residential buildings.

 

One BIG way to avoid fire damage is to have operational smoke detectors.

 

The Florida Landlord Tenant Statute states that: “Unless otherwise agreed in writing, at the commencement of the tenancy of a single-family home or duplex, the landlord shall install working smoke detection devices. As used in this paragraph, the term “smoke detection device” means an electrical or battery-operated device which detects visible or invisible particles of combustion and which is listed by Underwriters Laboratories, Inc., Factory Mutual Laboratories, Inc., or any other nationally recognized testing laboratory using nationally accepted testing standards”. While the Statute does not address multi-family, the landlord’s obligation to install smoke detectors will certainly be found in the local fire codes.

 

The statute doesn’t address who has the responsibility to maintain the detectors. So if the landlord is not going to handle the preventive maintenance of the smoke detector, the landlord should be clear in the lease that it will be tenant’s responsibility to check to make sure the batteries and smoke detector are operational.  

 

Regardless who is responsible, here are some smoke detector tips that will keep you safe this Thanksgiving:

 

  • Test your smoke alarm following the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • If you haven’t replaced your battery over the past year, do so now.
  • If your alarm “chirps,” its warning that the battery is low. HINT:  Change your battery now.
  • Never “borrow” a battery from a smoke alarm. Smoke alarms can’t warn you of fire if their batteries are missing or have been disconnected. So put back that battery now.
  • Do not disable your smoke alarms even temporarily.
  • If you haven’t done so recently, vacuum or dust your smoke alarms following manufacturer’s instructions.

 

And of course – always keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby. Never use water to extinguish a grease fire. If the fire is manageable, use your all-purpose fire extinguisher. If the fire increases, immediately call the fire department for help.

 

When it comes to managing your single, multi family or commercial properties, rest easy – Octazon Management has got you covered and can take away your property management headaches and distractions. Our full-service property management company can handle everything from tenant and vendor management to maintenance and landscaping, providing 3 day notices, eviction management, detailed financial reports and many other services through our 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 . Check us out @ www.octazon.com 

CONDO – HOA ASSOCIATION DISCRIMINATION

“CONDO COMMANDOS VS. TENANTS”

Have you recently experienced an association discriminating against your tenant? Well if you haven’t yet, unfortunately you eventually will be faced with race based discrimination or familial status discrimination.

 Of course they aren’t foolish enough to discriminate in an overt way. It may show up by unnecessarily delaying the tenant approval or by adding on additional requirements to process the approval of your prospective tenant.

 Here is what you need to know. While it is legal for an association to require approval (and charge for this process), they can not discriminate. The Fair Housing laws apply equally to associations.

Homeowners Association Discrimination is Illegal!

If you feel that discrimination is occurring, immediately call them on it. Don’t sit by and let it happen. Let them know they are opening themselves up to a FHA claim. If that doesn’t do the trick, then call your attorney or contact the association’s attorney.

Do not ignore this discrimination as the prospective tenant can file a claim against you, your management or Real Estate Company, and the association.  Also don’t bypass or ignore the association. You need their approval. Do not have a tenant move into a unit without written approval from the association.

 

When it comes to managing your single, multi family or commercial properties, rest easy – Octazon Management has got you covered and can take away your property management headaches and distractions. Our full-service property management company can handle everything from tenant and vendor management to maintenance and landscaping, providing 3 day notices, eviction management, detailed financial reports and many other services through our 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