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

ORAL LEASE VS. WRITTEN LEASE, MONTH TO MONTH – Part Two

MONTH TO MONTH ORAL LEASE & WRITTEN LEASE

Part Two

As I mentioned in part one of this blog – I recently I had an investor ask me about the benefits of a month to month oral lease vs. a month to month written lease.

(To Read Part One of This Blog , Click HERE)

We will now discuss the Pro’s of a WRITTEN month to month lease.

Pros of a WRITTEN month to month lease:

A month to month written lease could be a blessing, since it allows the landlord to have a short lease period. The tenant only gets to stay until such time as Landlord decides to terminate the lease. The law clearly states that a month to month tenancy can be terminated by either party giving at least 15 days’ notice prior to the end of the monthly rental period – unless the written lease provides for a longer period.

Another PRO is if a landlord is not sure that they want to have this tenant for a full year OR if they are not having any difficulties with the current tenant and would like to extend the lease but the landlord is not sure they want this existing tenant to stay for another full year, then a written month to month tenancy may work for you. However, if the landlord wants to go that route, then, before the existing lease expires, the landlord should notify the tenant that the landlord is non-renewing the lease and is offering a month-to-month tenancy at a new monthly rent. Then have the tenant sign a month to month written tenancy form.

Another PRO is if the landlord wants the existing tenant to renew the lease but the tenant does not want to commit to a year lease, then a written month to month may be a good, practical  solution.

Your month to month written tenancy can  be established by existing language in your original lease, so check the language in your lease. For example, your lease may contain the following or similar language: If landlord consents to tenant remaining in the premises after the expiration of this Lease, and no new Lease is signed, the tenancy shall be deemed to be extended as a month-to-month tenancy and during this month-to-month tenancy, all terms and conditions of this lease shall remain in full force and effect.

If your lease doesn’t contain appropriate language simply have the tenant sign a month to month written addendum to the existing lease.

We will discuss the cons of a WRITTEN month to month lease in a future blog.   

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

ORAL LEASE VS. WRITTEN LEASE, MONTH TO MONTH – Part One

MONTH TO MONTH ORAL LEASE VS. WRITTEN LEASE – Pros and Cons

Recently I had an investor ask me about the benefits of a month to month oral lease vs. a month to month written lease.

While there is much to blog about this, essentially here is what you need to know about the pros and cons of both an oral month to month lease and a written month to month lease.

Of course, having a traditional one year, written lease, allows the owner to know and plan how long the tenant will be in the property and can also provide the Landlord with specific written protections. BUT if the lease is month to month or is oral (non – written) then it gives the tenant the flexibility to move whenever they want and  excludes certain landlord protections – this should make a landlord nervous.

Therefore, it is always best to have a written one year lease.  But if you decide to have an oral agreement (and not a  written lease),  the usual form of residential oral lease agreement  is a monthly lease which is governed by Chapter 83, Part II, of the Florida Statutes and will provide  many  of the  lease terms between the landlord and tenant.  For example, absent a written lease the Florida Statute or a judge, will dictate how much time must be given for a notice of termination, what the landlord’s and the tenant’s duties are, and some other provisions.

Pro’s of a ORAL (non – written) month to month rental  

An oral lease creates a tenancy at will, that is, the rental can be terminated by the landlord at any time without any reason – giving at least 15 days’ notice to tenant prior to the end of the monthly rental period.

Con’s of an ORAL (non – written) month to month rental   

The tenant can also terminate the rental at anytime, without any reason. The owner can NOT plan how long the tenant will be in the property and the landlord has no peace of mind that his unit will be occupied for the year.

Another con is the landlord has less legal protection and control and can not dictate specific terms that the tenant has to follow since nothing is in writing. This increases landlord’s risk of a lawsuit.

In our next articles we will discuss the Pro’s and Con’s of a WRITTEN month to month lease. ( View Part Two Here and Part Three Here of this blog’s continuation). 

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

Moving Ahead with Realtor Technology – The Power of Octazon

Technology and the Power of Octazon

NAR conducted a 2013-2014 Realtor Technology Survey which found that sales associates and Realtors are continuing to invest in technology for their business, and in 2013 spent more than they had in previous years.

The technology that got the greatest traction amongst sales associates and Realtors is the various smartphones and tablets. Essentially realtor technology has transformed the way sales associates and Realtors do business, allowing them to stay in touch with their customers to maintain their strong, personal relationship and it ultimately enables them to meet their client’s needs.

However, what is surprising is that when it comes to sales associates and Realtors handling their client’s property management, they do not embrace technology or they embrace inefficient technology. Many sales associates and Realtors feel obligated to handle their client’s property management despite it being a distraction, since it is a necessity in keeping connected to the client.  Property management for most sales associates and Realtors is typically draining, time consuming or overwhelming and they wish they could simply unload their property management headaches without the fear of losing clients.

Recognizing these challenges, Octazon Management, through leveraging technology, created unique programs geared towards the sales agent and Realtor community. Octazon can handle their back office management or end-to-end tenant and vendor management ( full property management ) keeping  them focused on what they do best and enjoy – making the next deal.

Octazon uses cutting edge, technologically advanced, cloud based property management software, that fully integrates the entire property management and financial processes. All data is securely stored on remote servers protecting property owners and the Octazon team from loss due to natural disasters, and providing worldwide access to information. Octazon’s technology enable sales associates and Realtors direct access to valuable owner/investor information 24/7, giving them and their client’s confidence and peace of mind.

And as to the fear of losing the client, when Octazon provides management services to the sales associates and Realtors community, Octazon does not provide the leasing or sales- so they never have to worry about losing control over their client.

Octazon’s goal is simple – to enhance, through technology, the sales associates and Realtors  relationship with their client, helping them close more deals and make more money, bringing both them and their clients “simplicity and peace of mind” .

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  

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  

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