Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Help Me Howard: Landlord vs Tenant vs Association
If you rent a condo or a house you may soon face this, the association says if you don't hand us the landlords rent check we will evict you, and the landlord says if you don't give me the check I will evict you. It's happening all over South Florida, but there is a way out of it, which is why we keep Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser around.
WSVN -- If you are a renter in a condo I will bet you a lot of landlords are collecting the rent checks and not paying the mortgage, the association fees or both.
Angelica Weber: "It's frustrating for me. It's very frustrating."
Bradley and Angelica are newlyweds and are renters, and to most landlords would be the ideal tenants, willing to pay out of their own pockets to fix up the place.
Bradley Weber: "The floor was disgusting, it was vinyl. We paid to get the floors in."
They replaced the floors. They treated the Hialeah townhouse like they owned it, unfortunately their landlord didn't do the same.
Angelica Weber: "We came back and a week later there was a notice on our door. It was a notice from some lawyer saying the house had been foreclosed on."
Their landlord told them to ignore the notice, keep paying him rent and he would straighten it out. Apparently he did, but then Angelica tried to get a parking decal from the association.
Angelica Weber: "No, you cannot have one because you have not been paying us."
The association had filed a lien on their landlords property because he owed them over $3,700 for late maintenance fees. They added you should start handing his rent check to them.
Angelica Weber: "Saying that we had 10 days to pay them as we received the letter, and if we don't they were going to start eviction process."
Angelica called the landlord. He was not happy.
Angelica Weber: "He got really rude, really nasty. He said that we either paid him or we had to leave by the 15th."
If there was ever a time to use the phrase, 'stuck in the middle,' this is it.
Patrick Fraser: "So you have got the association saying they are going to evict you if you don't pay them. The landlord saying he is going to evict you if you don't pay him."
Bradley Weber: "Yeah, between the two of them we get the feeling they keep throwing us into the middle."
It's an impossible situation for an innocent renter and no matter which side you pay the other is vowing to evict you, not much fun.
Bradley Weber: "We just want to be able to sleep comfortably at night, thinking that our stuff is not going to be out on the front lawn when we get home from work."
Well Howard, Angelica and Bradley are like many renters in South Florida condos, stuck in the middle. So, who do you pay the landlord or the association?
Howard Finkelstein: "Under a new law, the association can take the rent check if the landlord is not paying his maintenance fees, but don't worry about the landlords threats, you will not be evicted because if the landlord tries to do it, they would have to go to court and when you show the judge you paid the rent to the association, the law requires him to protect you from being evicted."
I called the landlord twice, he told me he was busy and would call me back. He didn't, but he did send this email telling me this was a private matter, if I contacted him again he was going to turn me into the police. What for? I don't know. And Howard says if he tries to evict Angelica and Bradley it could cost him a few dollars.
Howard Finkelstein: "If the landlord tries to evict you and you have to hire an attorney to defend you, don't worry about your lawyers fees. After the judge rules in your favor, he can force the landlord to pay your attorneys fees."
Angelica and Bradley have had enough. Being stuck in the middle isn't any fun, and they are now looking for a new place to call home.
Angelica Weber: "It's scary. It's scary. I don't even want to be here as much as I love the place. As much as I love living around the corner from my parents it's scary. It's unsettling."
But the landlord may have more problems. He appears to be claiming a homestead exemption on the rental property Bradley and Angelica are living in. The Dade Property Appraisers Office frowns on that. They are checking into it and they have a special unit that goes after people who claim to be living in a property they actually rent out. They are tough about it.
Now if you want to find out if your landlord is behind on association fees just ask a board member or the management company. And to find out if they are going into foreclosure check the county clerks website, all the information will be there.
Associated with a problem you want to foreclose on? Wanna rent a little help? Contact us. We own a few law books and will try to give you a new lease on your outlook for free.