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lvans00

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Posts: 3
Reply with quote  #1 
I need some advice.  I had new tenants move into my house in FL.  My move-in requirement was security, first, and last month's rent.  My tenant has paid the security & first month's rent and asked me to wait to cash the last month's rent because they were selling their house in New York.  The tenants arrived at the house last Saturday and now are telling me that the sell of their house in NY has fallen through and the check they have given me would bounce if I cash it.  My question is, should I cash the check and hope that the tenant makes good on the check and pays any bank cost associated with the check or not cash it.  I assume that if I cash it and it comes back as NSF, I have another legal avenue to pursue against them.  Unfortunately, my lease does not specify that I require last month's rent to move in.

Any advice or recommendations would be appreciated.


OHlandlord

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Posts: 3,814
Reply with quote  #2 

Take the check to their bank if local and have the teller provide something in writing that says the check is no good.  Then send notice to the tenant that the check has non-sufficient funds and that they owe you the last's and the NSF fee, along with the next month's rent.  If that check bounces, chances are, the next rent check will too.  I'd require all rent be paid by cashier's or certified bank check or money order.  I wouldn't accept any more checks from them.  If the rent is not paid on the first, start eviction as soon as is legal in your state.

lvans00

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Posts: 3
Reply with quote  #3 
Thank you for the recommendation.  Unfortunately, the check was written on her NY account, my rental house is in FL, and I live in GA.....but, I will deposit the check in my bank account tomorrow.

I assume I can't start the eviction process until they are late on a current month's rent.  If they don't make good on the "Last Month's" rent....can I use the next payment I receive from them as payment? 

One additional issue, I found out from my handyman that they have a dog (and maybe another animal) that they never disclosed to me and the lease states 0 animals (I don't mind dogs....but, charge a non-refundable deposit for pets).

So far, these guys have 2 strikes!
OHlandlord

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Posts: 3,814
Reply with quote  #4 
If you deposit it into your bank it can take as long as 10 days to be notified that the check has bounced.  (Never accept out of state checks.)  Don't add those funds into your checkbook, because they will never be there.  In fact, probably $35 less will be because the bank may charge you for the bad check deposited.  (Ask your bank before you deposit it.) 

IF they pay rent tomorrow, Aug. 1, they will be paying rent for that month, not for the last month.  (You may have to keep hounding them for it, or forget it altogether).  See if the next check will clear.  Once the deposited check for the last mo. bounces, charge them for the bad check fee, due immediately (and subtract from Sept.'s rent payment, leaving them short on rent if they don't pay it by then.  Let them know this.).  Send them a notice that they still owe you the last month's. 

Also send them a lease violation or perform or quit notice to get rid of the dog or pay your fees andf complete the paperwork for it.  (BTW, call the pet money a FEE and not a deposit if it is allowed in your state.  You don't have to return a fee.)  Give them a deadline and inspect after that date with a written notice to enter for inspection.  I suspect these people will have increasing problems as the months go on.
lvans00

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Posts: 3
Reply with quote  #5 
Thank you for your help.  I have received an email from the tenant saying that she is going to pay $500 toward the last month's rent.  I assume this is due to me sending her a notice of Dishonest Check.  I assume I should cash this and send her a record of payment of the $500 plus the outstanding amount she still owes (balance plus $30 NSF fee).

I haven't done anything regarding the dog, yet.....but, I haven't brought it to her attention that I know about the dog.  Therefore, I assume my next steps will be to send her a notice of lease violation (or perform or quit) asking for an additional security deposit for the dog.  My current lease states, "Animals.  Tenant shall be entitled to keep no more than 0 domestic dogs, cats or birds; however, as such time as Tenant shall actually keep any such animal on the Premises, Tenent shall pay to Landlord a pet deposit of ______ ($_______), Zero Dollars ($0) of which shall be non-refundable and shall be used upon the termination or expiration of this agreement for the purposes of cleaning the carpets of the building.

Based on the wording in my lease.....should/can I send an addedum stating the pet deposit?  Since the tenant never told me they had a dog.....I didn't pay any attention to that clause in the lease.

I would appreciate any recommendations that you would have. 


OHlandlord

Registered:
Posts: 3,814
Reply with quote  #6 
OK, you have a pet deposit clause in the lease that you left blank, since it said she had "zero" pets.  The one problem with your clause is that it says none (0) of it non-refundable, so all of it is subject to refund if they leave the place clean.  This means you will have to justify pet deposit charges at the end of the tenancy.  It is not ideally worded, but you will have to go by it since that is what their lease says.

I would send the notice to her with a stated deposit amount.  If she balks, tell her it was left blank because she said she had no pets, and so at that time is was not applicable.  Tell her that the amount you quote to her is your standard pet deposit.  Make the amount substantial, like several hundred dollars (200-300) to be sure you will have enough to actually clean the carpets, etc.  If she complains, point out that the clause says that at such time she would keep an animal on the premises, she will pay you the deposit.  Since she is now keeping an animal there, no matter who it belongs to, she owes that money. 

One last thing, you need to check your state laws to see if there is a maximum amount of deposit allowed by state law.  You cannot exceed that with your security & pet deposits combined.  So if state law says max is 2 mos. rent, and you already took 1 & 1/2 mos rent for security, the pet deposit can't exceed the other 1/2 mos. rent.

Have her fill out a form for the animal that says what type of animal (dog), the breed, the color, name, age, sex, height, weight, etc.  This way she can't later substitute a different animal for this one.  Make sure the form states that "this pet deposit applies specifically to this animal and no other".  You may also want to insist that the animal be licensed by the city and be current on vaccinations.  This is just a CYA in case of animal control/dog warden/or other city official citing them for non-licensed pets or if it does bite someone.  You can show that she was required to license and vaccinate the dog.  Also, throw in some wording in the form about how she will care for the animal - require adequate food, water, exterior shelter, fleas collars or drops, weekly yard waste cleanup, and repair of any lawn damage.  Another CYA in case something happens to the dog or your yard.  You can show that she signed to be responsible.

Lastly, if she refuses the form or the deposit, and says she will get rid of the dog, schedule an inspection to be sure the dog (and its food, toys, etc.) are really gone.  Then a couple weeks later, schedule some routine maintenance (don't you need to check the smoke detectors, filters in the furnace, drain water/sediment from the water heater, check for a drip in the sink, something?).  Just to check again.  (Yes, it's not unusual to send the dog away for your inspection.)  Or just stop by to drop off the rent receipt (I was in the neighborhood and thought I'd save a stamp...).  If the dog is there, he'll bark when you knock. 
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