April 2013

The following are questions that we have received concerning landlord-tenant issues:

The first question was: A section 8 tenant was not paying their portion of the rent but section 8 was, is this considered a partial payment preventing an eviction? The answer is no. The tenant’s portion and the section 8 portion are considered separate leases, so that you can take the money from section 8 and still proceed with your eviction on the tenant who has not paid their portion. 

Question: A manager had a tenant who was seen naked on his patio and then attempted to break into another resident’s apartment. This would be an immediate eviction for indecent exposure as well as attempted burglary. 

A property manager had a client/landlord who filed bankruptcy for himself and wondered if he could still pursue the former tenant who skipped out early on the lease. The answer is yes, but he should check with his bankruptcy trustee as any monies he receives could be considered an asset and subject to disposition by the bankruptcy court. 

Another question was: Tenants delivered their rent money through the rent drop, but did not put any identification on the money orders as to who they were. The manager was at a loss as to how to apply the money. The best approach would be to serve any of your tenants five-day notices for non-payment of rent, and then see who contacts the rental office alleging that they have paid by money order. Hopefully, the residents retain the stubs to their money orders so that it could be determined that these were in fact the missing money orders. 

Another manager wondered if it would be illegal to put up surveillance cameras in their fitness center due to vandalism. The answer is no, it would not be illegal. In fact, videotapes showing vandalism have been use routinely in court. To show that the tenant or individual that committed the vandalism could be acted upon, whether it be an eviction or criminal prosecution. 

Another question was: Could someone have two leases at the same apartment complex? One would be for the tenant and a spouse, and the other would be for his adult children. The tenant can have as many leases as they want as long as they qualify for all of them and make their payments timely. 

Another manager had a tenant that passed away and the tenant’s sister was demanding return of the security deposit. Without knowing if there were other heirs or next of kin, the deposit should be made out to the estate of the deceased tenant. Deposit should then only be given to someone who can show that they are, in fact, the legitimate next of kin. 

Another situation was that the manager found the utilities off in the tenant’s apartment, but the tenant’s possessions were still there along with molding, rotten food in the refrigerator. The question was whether or not they could clean out the refrigerator to prevent it from being damaged. This would be considered an emergency under the Landlord-Tenant Act and would allow access without notice. The refrigerator that belongs to the landlord could then be cleaned so that it would not be damaged and unusable.

Finally, a manager wanted to know if a person with a power of attorney for their pickup would be authorized to pick up the tenant’s belongings. Normally you would have to look at the power of attorney but most of them do give broad power to the person holding it. You should take a copy of that and keep it in the resident’s files