Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Help Me Howard: Don't Decorate
It's that time of they year. Time to put up the Christmas tree, hang the lights, and ... oh wait. What do you mean, your landlord says you can't decorate? That's what one South Florida family was told, and it's why they called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser to see if a landlord can block you from decorating for Christmas.
WSVN -- I think it's safe to say that Lisa and her landlord won't be sending each other Christmas cards.
Lisa Wellington, Wants to Decorate: "No, she doesn't make me smile."
The love started to drain out of their relationship earlier this year, when the roof sprung a leak.
Lisa Wellington, Wants to Decorate: "She got citations for it, and I think she is taking it out on me, which is wrong."
Then December rolled around. Neighborhoods started lighting up, Christmas decorations hanging from trees and houses. Lisa put lights outside her house.
Lisa Wellington, Wants to Decorate: "Because it's a part of my religion. I am a Jamaican, and we love to celebrate Christmas."
Her children have the Christmas spirit.
But then, they came home one day and found their Christmas decorations were not appreciated by their landlord.
Lisa Wellington, Wants to Decorate: "Well, I put up the Christmas decorations on the outside of the house. She came, she took down from that section."
Lisa's landlord then used her key to open the door and put the string of lights on the dining room table.
Lisa Wellington, Wants to Decorate: "With this note that says, 'Please, no more tape or decorations. Thanks, Chris.'"
Why take down the decorations? Lisa had used this tape to hang the lights from the house. Her landlord told her she had just primed the walls, was getting ready to paint the house, and the tape would peel the primer off.
Lisa Wellington, Wants to Decorate: "This has no paint on it, period. As you can see, no paint. So how is this going to be destroying her wall?"
Give the landlord credit. She did put these screws in the carport so Lisa could hang the lights on the garage, which confused Lisa.
Lisa Wellington, Wants to Decorate: "This is more damaging to the structure of the wall than the tape."
The landlord disagreed, then got tired of the dispute and sent this letter, telling Lisa to take all the decorations down, disappointing the kids.
Tonia Ellison, Loves the Decorations: "I was sad, because we worked hard to put them up and now we have to take them down."
Patrick Fraser: "Do you want to take them down?"
Tonia Ellison, Loves the Decorations: "No."
And so Lisa has a simple request for her landlord: Let her put up Christmas lights, for her children's sake.
Lisa Wellington, Wants to Decorate: "This is not right. These are children, and it's a holiday."
Well Howard, it's a holiday, people like to decorate, but if you rent, legally do you have a right to show your Christmas spirit?
Howard Finkelstein, 7 News Legal Expert: "It depends on the lease. If your lease says no decorations, you can't put them up. It's just that simple. But Lisa's lease doesn't say anything about decorations, so she can put them up, as long as she doesn't damage the property."
I spoke to the landlord. She was very nice and said Lisa can put up decorations but cannot damage the property. She also disagrees with Lisa and is convinced pulling the tape off after Christmas will peel the primer off the house.
Howard Finkelstein, 7 News Legal Expert: "Since they can't agree on whether or not the tape will peel the primer off, Lisa can put up the lights, and if the landlord feels the tape damaged the primer, she can take it out of the deposit when Lisa leaves."
Lisa is going to decorate now. She says she has the law on her side and has paid for the privilege.
Lisa Wellington, Wants to Decorate: "You can't be paying your rent and you are restricted to put up Christmas decorations. It's the time of the year, it's a festive time of the year right now."
Patrick Fraser: "If you live in an apartment or a condo, they can block you from putting up decorations if it's in the lease or rules and regulations. If not, you can decorate. As for Lisa and her landlord, they finally agreed on one thing: Lisa and her kids are going to move out. That will make both sides happy."
Tackled a problem that has you burned out? Need someone to light up your life? Contact us. We may not be the brightest bulbs in the batch, but we will try to string together a solution for you.
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