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hunting

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Posts: 9
Reply with quote  #1 
Tenant clogged the sewer twice which cost $2000 not including cleaning human waste and  others due to flooding which is done myself (about half year ago). Now the lease is approaching the end.  Is it time to claim the $2000 back from the security deposit?  Should I get lawyer in writing on this?  In addition, the tenant has been verbally insulting us which we tried to behave professionally by ignore it.  In case anything the tenant is going to damage my property,  What kind of caution should I take before they moving out?  How soon do I have to return their security deposit after they move out?  Thank you for advice.
hunting

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Posts: 9
Reply with quote  #2 
It's in NY.
OHlandlord

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Reply with quote  #3 
If you have done nothing in 6 months to collect the money due through a tenant's negligence, you may have lost the ability to collect it.  Most courts say you have to show that you have been trying to collect it (sending regular bills to the tenant is usually sufficient).  If you don't try to collect, you have waived your right to collect those monies.

Also, many states will not allow you to collect on work you did yourself.  Please check your state law. 

If you find a tenant has done damage or caused a repair due to some negligence or misuse, it should always be listed directly on the repair bill as the cause.  The tenant should then be given a copy of the bill immediately and a demand for payment.  Ideally, you have a clause in the lease showing that monies received are always applied to the oldest debts first, regardless of any notations on payments received.  (Meaning that you apply their next payment to the repair, even if they write "rent"on the payment.  They are then delinquent on paying rent and can be evicted,) 

Finally, you do need to check your law on the security deposit.  Check this link:
http://www.landlord.com/security-deposit-law-guide.htm
But since NY has many local laws per borough, you may need to check local laws as well.

hunting

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Posts: 9
Reply with quote  #4 
Great answer! I really wish I could have asked you earlier. If I billed the tenant now and the tenant refused to pay the cost, would it be enough to evict the tenant? (There is no early termination clause in the lease.  [wink]  If choose to eviction, how soon can evict the tenant out of the apartment?  

Thanks.
OHlandlord

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Reply with quote  #5 
I really don't see how you can bill the tenant now for a repair they caused 6 months ago.  A judge would likely toss it out.  It should have been charged to the tenant at the time and rebilled each month.  I don't see how you can use it as fodder to evict.  But if the lease is almost up, can't you just refuse to renew it and give proper notice prior to the lease end (so the tenant needs to be out the last day of their lease)?  Give them notice, let them move, then refund their deposit less damages in the apartment.  Do not withhold the sewer repair.  Since a judge would probably toss it, the same judge could easily find you for wrongful withholding.  IN many states, there is a large fee for wrongfully withholding.

BTW, if you want to prevent damages - there is no such prevention.  But you may want to inspect now, before they move.  You could see what the place looks like now. Then inspect again after they leave.  Anything that has changed between the two would definitely be damages.
hunting

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Posts: 9
Reply with quote  #6 
Dear OHlandlord,

Thank you very much for your professional opinion. I cannot appreciate it more especially as a first time landlord. Would you mind help me understand more:

1. Give proper notice: what is proper? One email notice would be ok?
2. Refund deposit: should I get the tenant's new address to mail check or just hand check? How soon do I have to refund the check, the same day lease expires or hold 1/2 weeks after expires? Some damages won't find right away, such as sewer line clog. Would it be reasonable to withhold deposit for a few days after they leave? In addition, my contract says : deposit will be refunded when the lease expires. Would it make it impossible to without deposit for a few days?
3. "You may want to inspect now": should I get inspector or professional to perform the job? Should take some photos? I have photos before they move in. Would this be enough if we don't do inspection?

Thanks a lot and have a nice day.
OHlandlord

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Reply with quote  #7 
1.  Proper notice is the amount of notice required by your state to ask a month to month tenant to move out (usually 30 or 60 days).  It is probably not allowed to be served by email.  Call the local court and ask them how notices must be served.  Some areas say they are OK by US mail, some require certified mail, some say you can just post them on their door.  (Take a photo of it hanging there if you do this so you can prove you posted it.  Keep a copy for your records.)  I don't know any state that allows email for this notice yet.  Make sure you serve the notice by the method the court says and give them at least the amount of notice required.

2.  Always mail the check to them with an itemized statement of any deductions.  Never hand it to them.  You can easily find damages that you miss on the first walk through.  Several yrs ago I told a story of a walk through with a tenant late in the evening.  The bathroom smelled of toilet bowl cleaner.  The tenant claimed he had just cleaned the toilet so I didn't think much of it.  Until the next day when I went back to the property to see it in a different light.  The shower fixtures were all streaked black.  Turned out he cleaned the shower with toilet bowl cleaner and overnight it had discolored all the chrome fixtures.  I also saw that he had "patched" the holes in the white walls with toothpaste, glued on broken cabinet handles, cut off the sink sprayer (it was just hanging in the hole), and found that a window would no longer open.  Go back and inspect a couple times after the tenant leaves.  Try all door, drawers, windows, fixtures, outlets, switches, etc.  Don't hurry to give the deposit back, just make sure it goes back within the state's timeline.  Your state law says the deposit has to go back within a certain number of days.  Find all the damages first, then mail the check with an itemized statement within that time period.

3.  You may want to inspect now.  Give the tenant a courtesy call and offer to do a quick walk through before they leave.  (Some states require that you do this in writing.)  Do this yourself and look for items they need to clean or repair when they move.  (They may need to clean appliances, carpeting, bathroom fixtures, etc.).  Let them know that you want them to get their deposit back and this is a way for them to know what they need to do before they move.  Wait to take photos until after they move out.  Then you have before and after photos in case you need to deduct anything from the deposit.  You can show the damages in court.
hunting

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Posts: 9
Reply with quote  #8 
Wonderful!

In terms of renewal, there is one original clause stating "any extension or renewal of this lease will be at landlord's sole discretion". However ,there is a amendment after this saying " there is an exercisable option to extend for an additional one or two years period. Tenant must notify landlord certified mail o intent to exercise option to renew or lease will end on xxxx,2016."

What does this mean to me?  Does it mean the tenant can renew on the last day of the lease?  can I do anything, such as send certified mail to inform the refusing renewal. thanks.
OHlandlord

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Reply with quote  #9 
If you wish not to renew their lease, send a notice stating this (with no reason noted).  Send it to the tenant within your state's time limit and by the proper method.  If you have already sent them notice that you will not renew, they cannot override you by saying they are renewing.  It's not a one way street.  Renewals are by mutual consent.

The clause for tenant renewal means they must notify you within the state's time limit of their intent to stay.  If you received such a request and do not want them to stay, send them notice that you will be unable to honor their request to renew.  Request that they vacate by the last day on the lease.  Make sure they get this notice before the time limit.
hunting

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Posts: 9
Reply with quote  #10 

The troubled tenant sent 3 repairing requests: kitchen sink clog ( after 2 major clogging that cost me thousands dollars), refrigerator and window (preexisting condition which is there since he moved in and never pointed out until half a year later).  Should I as a landlord be responsible for the repair? How soon should I respond the request?  FYI, there are two clauses stating that tenant  should take care of damage not within normal wear and tenant should take care appliance (specifically point out refrigerator) within the lease term.

OHlandlord

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Reply with quote  #11 
If all lines where free flowing after the last plumbing repair bill, I will tell the tenant if she stopped it up, she needs to unstop it.  If its only the sink, it would almost have to be something the tenant put in the lines.  Tree roots or a collapsed pipe would stop up the entire house.
Depending on your state law, many states say the landlord is responsible for appliances they provide a tenant.  If its your fridge, you pay to repair it.
As for a window, how did you know it was preexisting?  If you knew it was there before they rented, I would have thought you would have made that repair at move it.
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