Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Help Me Howard: Cop and Rent
If you are a police officer, you have special privileges and special responsibilities, and is one of them the ability to break a lease or refuse to leave a property when the lease expires? That's what one landlord feared after a cop moved into her property, and it's why she called Help me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- When Jackie Cordero decided to turn this house into an investment property and become a landlord, she was excited ... till she began to be a landlord.
Jackie Cordero: "I don't enjoy anything about it. It was my first experience. I've been a landlord for two years, and it's been the worst."
At first, Jackie thought her tenant would be great, especially when he told her what he did for a living.
Jackie Cordero: "He's a Doral cop."
But, as she found out, an enforcer of the law may not always follow landlord-tenant rules.
Jackie Cordero: "My tenants pay every month late. Every month there's an excuse. If it's not one thing, it's the other."
Finally, in October, the cop's lease was up, and Jackie couldn't wait.
Jackie Cordero: "It's my house, and I want them out."
But then the officer let her know he might not be going anywhere.
Jackie Cordero: "He said he wasn't leaving, and that he was staying until November 30th, and November 30th will come, and we'll have the same problem."
When Jackie said, you need to get out, he responded with a text.
Jackie Cordero: "Please remember, as a police officer, I am well versed in landlord/tenant issues, so going that route would not be difficult."
Jackie took that as a threat.
Jackie Cordero: "I think he shouldn't be using his uniform, and the power that he has, to try and scare people just because he's a cop."
Jackie then did some digging and found out she was not the first landlord to have problems with this policeman.
Jackie Cordero: "I came across a lawsuit they had for $6,300 with another landlord back in November 2006."
According to court documents, the judge ruled against the cop and ordered him to pay his prior landlord the $6,300, and with the cop's lease expiring, Jackie feared she was also facing a long, drawn out battle to get rid of the officer.
Jackie Cordero: "I'm angry because I don't think it's fair for good landlords to have to put up with this, have someone live on your premises for free."
But can she win a court battle with a police officer to evict him? To find out, she called Help me Howard.
Howard Finkelstein: "Doesn't matter who the tenant is or what they do for a living. They signed a lease, and they have to abide by it, and if the tenant becomes what the law calls a holdover tenant, in other words, they stay past the end of the lease, the landlord can charge double the rent."
When we called the officer, he told us his landlord needs to show compassion, and that he wasn't trying to take advantage of free rent. He also said his text message was clear and respectful and added he paid the $6300 to his prior landlord.
When we asked the City of Doral if they approved of their officer's behavior, a spokesperson said, "Contracts and breaches of contracts are civil matters, and the City of Doral must remain neutral."
Jackie Cordero: "If it wasn't for the help of Channel 7, I don't think he would have ever moved out."
After we talked to the officer, he decided to move on and left Jackie's house seven days after he should have been out.
Jackie Cordero: "They left it the way close to the way we gave it to them."
The officer left the home in good shape, but he left a bad taste in Jackie's mouth for the landlord business.
Jackie Cordero: "I think it's better not even leasing your house or renting your house. You're better off just selling your house and not dealing with tenants."
Patrick Fraser: "When the officer stayed the extra seven days, Jackie did not lose any money. She subtracted it from his security deposit, and while the City of Doral doesn't get involved in a police officer's civil dispute, it's not the same for every job. For example, if a lawyer tires to bully someone who is not a lawyer, the Florida Bar could discipline them.
Renting a problem you want to break away from? Need a new lease on life? Deposit it with us. We'll police your problem and lead you to e-vic-tory.