Monthly Archives: November 2017

#183 RentPrep Court: Cutting Corners

Resources mentioned in this episode:
https://www.rentprep.com/resources/
https://www.texasrealestate.com/for-texas-realtors/legal-faqs/category/landlord-tenant-issues
https://www.classaction.org/employment-background-checks

Narrator voice

This is the plaintiff Jim Jackson he’s a renter from Texas and he says the defendant denied him a rental because he has a large family. He’s suing for $1,000 in statutory damages related to his discrimination claim.

Narrator voice
This is the defendant Wilson Wharton who claims he found better renters and that Jim is just angry he was denied the rental.

Bailiff
Will all parties please raise their right hand

Narrator voice  – What you are about to hear is only real in your imagination. The judgements are fictitious but real life lessons are waiting to unfold. Welcome to RentPrep court.

 

Bailiff

All rise for the honorable Judge Rudy Fortune.


Judge Rudy Fortune
Jim Jackson you are suing Mr. Wilson Wharton for damages of $1,000 dollars because you believe you and your family were discriminated against. What kind of evidence do you have to substantiate your claims.

Renter Jim Jackson
Your honor. I have six kids and it’s been very difficult for my wife and I to find a place to live. We’ve been denied many rentals so far but with Mr. Wharton it was the only time we felt someone discriminated against us.

Judge Rudy

What makes you believe that you were discriminated against?

 

Renter Jim Jackson
When we looked at the rental he kept asking us prying questions about our family. He started off by making a comment about our mini-van and asked me how many kids we have. He made comments during the showing and said that the rental was ideal for couples and not great for families. But we’re desperate so we filled out an application and paid the $50 fee and we were never told if we were denied.

 

Judge Rudy
So how did you find out you were denied the rental?

 

Renter Jim Jackson
I called Mr. Wharton about a week later to ask about the rental and he said he went with another applicant.

Judge Rudy
Mr. Wharton? is this true?

Landlord Wilson Wharton
Not completely your honor. I never made any comments about their mini-van or that the rental is better suited for landlords. That simply did not happen. Jim’s right that I did rent out the space to someone else who is a better fit for the rental.

 

Judge Rudy
Mmm hmmmm? and how did you make that determination that the other applicant was a better fit for your rental?

 

Landlord Wilson Wharton
They had a much longer and more stable job history so I ran their background check and everything checked out fine.  

Judge Rudy
Mr. Wharton did you provide Mr. Jackson with your tenant-selection criteria when he filled out an application?

Landlord Wilson Wharton
Ahhhh? no your honor.

Judge Rudy (cue music)
Mmmm your situation reminds me of a friend of mine growing up. A bunch of us use to play baseball down by the quarry at the edge of town. We’d go to Mr. Jenkins grocery store and snag some of his spare cardboard boxes. We’d make some bases and drop em down on the field and have ourselves a day playing until suppa time. Our one friends we called Racing Rick because he’d run so fast round the bases his feet would never touch cardboard until he got to home plate. In school he was the same way. He was always cutting corners to get things done as quickly as possible. Mr. Wharton do you understand why I am bringing up Racing Rick today?

Landlord Wilson Wharton
Ahhh? I’m not sure I’m following your honor.

Judge Rudy
You mentioned you didn’t provide the applicant with your tenant-selection-criteria. In the state of Texas it is required to make printed notice of the landlord’s tenant-selection criteria available to the applicant. Are you aware of this law?

Landlord Wilson Wharton
No I wasn’t your honor.

Judge Rudy
Now, this tells me you’re a landlord who doesn’t touch the bases because you’re too busy thinking bout home plate. You’re racing just like Rick to get that rental filled as fast as possible. My suggestion is that you read up on your state and local municipalities law’s before you start screening tenants.

Landlord Wilson Wharton
I’m sorry your honor. I’ll do that ASAP.

Renter Jim Jackson
I bet he didn’t read up on the Fair Housing laws neither!!! I want my money for being discriminated against!

 

[Gavel noise + crowd murmur]

 

Judge Rudy
Mr. Jackson. My courtroom is not a place for accusations… but finding the truth of the matter. Do you have any other evidence to present that would suggest you were discriminated against?

Renter Jim Jackson
No your honor but it’s obvious he doesn’t follow the law!

Judge Rudy
Mr. Jackson as far as your case of discrimination against Mr. Wharton… please tell your wife I said sorry Mrs. Jackson… and I am for real… and I never meant to make your daughter cry… and that I apologize a trillion times. You see a courtroom isn’t a place for anecdotal evidence. I need evidence and not your version of the truth.

Landlord Wilson Wharton
Thank you your honor!

[gavel noises]

Judge Rudy
I’m not finished Mr. Wharton. Now yes, I am going to dismiss the charges of $1,000 in this claim of discrimination. However, in the state of Texas if you charge a tenant an application fee to run a background check you must present them with a written notice of your tenant-selection-criteria. Since you rejected the applicant and failed to make your criteria known you must refund the application fee to Mr. Jackson. You got off lucky today but my suggestion is that you stop cutting corners and read up on the laws. My verdict is a payment of $50 to the plaintiff.
[gavel sound]

Narrator:
Well.. the honorable judge threw out the discrimination claim in a case of cutting corners but the plaintiff was still awarded $50. We’re going to toss this over to Steve and Eric to see what the guys in the RentPrep office think about this.

Check out this episode of the RentPrep For Landlords podcast

The post #183 RentPrep Court: Cutting Corners appeared first on RentPrep.

Cash For Keys Agreement Form

When a landlord wants to encourage a tenant to move out soon, they may offer to let them out of the lease. They can also offer a cash for keys agreement form to give the tenant even more incentive to leave soon and keep the property in good shape.

What is a Cash for Keys Agreement Form?

Sometimes a tenant just isn’t working out and landlords want them gone as soon as possible. Eviction is always an option but it can take a long time to get finalized. The landlord also risks an angry tenant doing damage to the property in the meantime. One alternative is a cash for keys agreement. This is a form that exchanges money for quickly vacating the property and leaving it in good condition.

Many landlords find success with the cash for keys agreement form because tenants are generally interested in the possibility of getting some or all of their deposit back. With an eviction, they wouldn’t get any money back. Cash for keys is like the carrot and the eviction process is like the stick for getting tenants to vacate a rental unit.

What Should a Cash for Keys Agreement Form Include?

A cash for keys agreement should always be in writing. It needs to include the amount of money tenants will receive and how that payment will be made. It should also include the deadline for turning over keys. The agreement should state that the landlord and tenant will both go through the property on moving day to assess any damages.

If there is no damage to the rental property, both parties sign the agreement and exchange cash for keys. Finally, the agreement should also say that if the tenant doesn’t want to participate, the eviction process will go forward as planned.

RentPrep’s Take On a Cash for Keys Agreement Form

RentPrep supports the cash for keys option when it has been thoroughly checked out by an attorney. A cash for keys agreement form is available for free on the Rentprep website. Just click here for RentPrep’s free cash for keys agreement form.

However, every state has different laws regarding landlord/tenant relations so its a good idea to have an attorney review the document and make adjustments so that it is compliant with that state’s law.

What Are Other Landlords Saying About a Cash for Keys Agreement Form

Every landlord encounters a tenant that they wish would just leave. With a cash for keys agreement form, they can make it easier for tenants to just leave and landlords to preserve their property without much damage.

Here’s a screenshot of landlords discussing this question in our private Facebook group for Landlords.

cash for keys agreement form

You can see even more comments on that post by checking it out in the group.

The post Cash For Keys Agreement Form appeared first on RentPrep.

How To Create A Custom Email For Rental Properties

In this post we’re going to discuss how to create a custom email for rental properties. This is helpful for any landlord or property manager because it helps you look legitimate and separates your personal and work email.

Introduction of “Tori vs. Harry”

This is part one, of an ongoing series, that will examine how to find good tenants through the lens of Aesop’s story of “The Tortoise and the Hare.” 

In that famous story, the Hare mocks the Tortoise for being slow until the Tortoise becomes upset and challenges the Hare to a race. 

The Hare is much faster and speeds out to such a lead that a mid-race nap ensues. While napping the Tortoise methodically moves forward and wins the race. 

In our version of the story we will follow two landlords as they go through the process of finding a renter. The Hare will be played by “Harry” and the Tortoise will be played by “Tori.”  

You may find an urge to follow Harry’s quick process but you’ll see as the results unfold why Tori knows how to best run this race. 

Throughout this series we will examine step-for-step how Tori and Harry go through their process.  

Any text written in italics is a question that the reader (you) might be wondering. Think of it as your internal dialogue that says the things you might be thinking.  

Sounds complicated. Hopefully this isn’t going to be confusing.

See it’s working already! 

We promise to make the process of finding a good tenant as simple and easy to follow along as possible. 

Tori’s philosophy is that if you’re going to do something, do it right.  

She’s building her systems with the intentions of scaling her business and she will share tools that might not be a perfect fit if you’re only planning on owning a couple rentals. 

Harry’s philosophy is to take the fastest and easiest approach possible. 

At certain times throughout this series you may find yourself borrowing from either character depending on your situation. 

There is no perfect tenant, perfect landlord, or prefect screening process. 

The goal is to show you all the options available so you can find the perfect blend for your tenant screening process. 

Chapter 1: Create A Custom Email For Your Rental Properties

How do you want to communicate with your future tenant?  

Do you want them to text you for simple things and only call you for emergencies? 

Do you want them to call your cell, home phone, or business phone? 

How do you respond to non-emergency calls in the middle of the night? 

Tori is in this for the long haul and she knows that the methods of communication used early in the tenant screening process will create habits (good or bad) for her and the eventual tenant. 

She doesn’t want her personal information available so she goes through a couple steps to create a layer of privacy between her and her future applicants. 

She creates an email specific to her rental business.  

There are few reasons Tori wants to do this: 

  • She doesn’t want to share her personal email 
  • She wants to create a clean inbox for tracking tenant communications 
  • She wants to appear more professional  

There are a couple of ways to do this.

Option 1 – Create an “@gmail.com” account

The easiest route is to create a free gmail account using this link. 

This is very simple and will at least give you the option to have an email such as “tori-rentals@gmail.com”

If given the choice, why not create a custom email that gives a higher sense of legitimacy?

Option 2- Create A Custom Email Handle

Tori is planning on building her rental portfolio and wants to establish the best practices now. She doesn’t want her email handle to have “@gmail.com” at the end of it. 

She decides she wants her email to be tori@tortoiserentals.com so that it matches her LLC’s name. 

The way to do this is to purchase a domain at a site such as GoDaddy and then create a Google Apps account 

A Google Apps account is currently $5 a month (or $50 a year if you pay up front) but is worth it for the privacy and ability to grow with her business. 

It’s pretty easy to setup the website and custom email but there are a few steps involved. I thought it would be easiest to just create a video to show you how.

Resources Mention In The Video

Honey Coupon App – https://www.joinhoney.com/ref/yet6cy
G Suite Program https://goo.gl/gkwkxJ
https://www.godaddy.com/

Harry’s Approach To A Custom Email

Harry was too lazy to do any of this. He’s enjoying his first margarita on the beach while Tori “wastes” her time. Occasionally he mocks her by sending a text of his hand holding his fresh drink. She doesn’t reply because she’s got work to do. 

Why does Tori go through all of this effort? It seems like it’s just a more professional looking email address is all? 

Tori is looking to scale and someday may even have others working for her. When that happens she wants to be able to have all emails under the same domain that can communicate cleanly using shared calendars, apps, and voice services provided by Google. If she takes the time now, she can put good habits in place today so scaling becomes easier in the future. 

Tori is also going to be dealing with screening applicants in the future.

One of the dangers of tenant screening comes in the form of discrimination claims. These typically happen when an applicant is denied a rental and is angry and feels discriminated against. If taken to court the fines can cost tens of thousands of dollars for first time offenders. 

In our next chapter of “Tori vs. Harry” we will share how you can help defend Fair Housing claims and setup automations to rental requests.

The post How To Create A Custom Email For Rental Properties appeared first on RentPrep.

Smarten Up Your Showings With Smart Home Technology

By Christy Matte, guest contributor Smart homes with security and automation features are becoming a hot trend, and they can be an exciting way to dazzle prospective home buyers (and up your staging efforts to a high-tech level at the same time). But if buyers have never experienced an automated home environment, rattling off a […]

How Much Should Landlords Charge For Late Fees On Rent?

When landlords and tenants sign a lease agreement, they create a contract. The landlord provides a habitable place to live and the tenant agrees to pay rent on time and in full. But what happens when tenants are late with the rent?

Many landlords include a late fee clause in the lease agreement to protect their investment.  But how much should landlords charge for late fees on rent?

State Laws Control How Much Landlords Charge for Late Fees on Rent

Charging and collecting late fees are regulated by state law. This means that landlords in different states may have certain regulations on what they can do.

For example, in Maryland, the rent cannot exceed 5% but in New Mexico or 8% in Minnesota. In Tennessee, a late fee can’t be more than 10% of the amount overdue, but landlords can’t start charging until the rent is 5 days late. In Maine, it can’t exceed 4% and landlords must wait for 15 days past due before charging.

Other states are not so specific and only specify that landlords needs to implement reasonable late fees. In states like Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Utah and Washington, there are no real specifics. However, most court cases support anywhere from a 5% to 10% late fee that is considered reasonable after a short grace period.

Can Landlords Charge a Flat Fee for Late Rent?

Many landlords charge a flat fee for late rent and it is often paired with the daily late rent fee. For example, a landlord might have a $50 flat fee if the rent not paid by the 3rd of every month and then charge $5 per day until it’s paid.

States that have laws about the maximum late fees that landlords can collect often structure it so the flat fee and the late days combine until they meet the limit. For example, a landlord might charge $45 after the 5th of the month, plus $5 per day until 10% of rent is due because their state law allows just up to 10% of the total rent to be collected as a late fee.

RentPrep’s Take On Tenant Excuses for Late Rent

Like many landlord/tenant issues, so much depends on the state law that regulates rentals. It’s important for landlords to know what is permitted by their state, then structure their lease agreement accordingly.

Landlords must remember that the late fee is supposed to be an incentive for tenants to pay. They are also trying to protect themselves and their business by getting compensated for the inconvenience and worry about late rent. That’s why the combination of a hefty flat fee plus a daily fee seems to work best with tenants.

What Are Other Landlords Saying About What to Charge for Late Fees on Rent

To be successful, landlords need the rent paid on time and in full. When tenants pay the rent late, it creates a ripple effect for the landlord’s finances. Late fees should be tough enough to be a real deterrent but not so unreasonable that tenants can’t realistically incorporate the if they run in to some kind of emergency.

Here’s a screenshot of landlords discussing this question in our private Facebook group for Landlords.

charge for late fees on rent

You can see even more comments on that post by checking it out in the group.

The post How Much Should Landlords Charge For Late Fees On Rent? appeared first on RentPrep.

How to Deal with an Influx of Package Deliveries at Your Property This Holiday Season

People are shopping online now more than ever. They’re buying clothes, household supplies, and even groceries online. Amazon, Blue Apron, Peapod, and countless others are making a steady stream of deliveries to residents’ doors. One poll finds that more than 25% of residents receive at least 4 packages each month.

Package delivery management is creating a major headache for some rental owners and HOA communities.

“As online sales continue to skyrocket, package delivery management is becoming a growing issue to apartment communities,” says Mercedes Sanchez of the Houston Apartment Association. “Many simply do not have the storage capacity, so they are trying to figure out how to handle the deluge of packages and are having a second look at their policies regarding this issue.”

A recent survey finds that package carriers will first try to deliver a parcel directly to the resident’s door. If that doesn’t work, they’ll try to deliver it to a management office.

An executive with Camden Property Trust says that for his property management company, package delivery management results in 10 minutes of lost productivity per delivery. “Multiply that by the 1 million packages Camden handled in 2014 and you begin to see just how big an issue package management is, especially as online shopping continues to grow,” he says.

While package delivery management issues may be exacerbated in large apartment communities, they affect owners of small buildings equally.

In fact, small buildings are less likely to have a publicly accessible common area for carriers to deliver packages. Instead, packages are just left on the front steps, or wedged between the front and screen doors. These deliveries, when visible from the street, are an indication that nobody is home?and can put the rental unit at greater risk of a break-in.

A typical apartment community receives as many as 100 packages per week?a number that can double during the holidays?and online shopping shows no signs of slowing. This means that landlords, property managers, and HOAs are going to have to get more creative when it comes to package delivery management. There’s no time like the present, particularly with the holidays upon us!

Here are a few strategies for package delivery management at your property:

1. Relinquish responsibility. Unless you have an on-site management office where staff can receive packages for residents, be sure to specify that you’re not responsible for deliveries that are lost, damaged, or stolen. A simple email reminder may be warranted as the holiday season approaches.

2. Install an oversized mailbox. If space allows, consider installing an oversized mailbox that can accommodate packages (18 x 18 x 24 inches should do the trick). This won’t solve all of your package delivery challenges, but it will at least keep a portion of the deliveries hidden from view.

3. Utilize smart locks. As building technology becomes more sophisticated, the number of smart lock solutions has continued to grow. In smaller apartment buildings, you might consider installing a smart lock system on your front door. Carriers could use a special code to unlock the front door, allowing them to leave packages in the foyer or other common area without having access to individual rental units.

4. Invest in package lockers. Amazon announced last month that it would start partnering with apartment buildings to offer Amazon Hubs: locker systems that can receive deliveries fulfilled by Amazon. Amazon will experiment with allowing other carriers to deliver their packages to those hubs as well.

Amazon isn’t the only purveyor of locker systems?there are others with varying degrees of sophistication. Most cost anywhere between $10,000 and $20,000 per locker, but each locker can be shared by five to eight apartments. The most technical locker systems can tell which compartment is empty and will randomly assign the locker so that resident can use a unique code to get their package. Lockers can be accessed any time of the day, which allows for round-the-clock deliveries.

The investment can be worth it, given the growth of online shopping. Residents now view storage lockers as an added amenity that can help your building stand out from the rest. According to a survey by Multifamily Executive, over 28% of renters list package lockers as “very important,” or near the top on a scale of 1-10 in terms of amenities they care about most.

Despite the spike in online shopping, we’re still only at the tip of the iceberg: About 90% of shopping is still conducted in traditional brick-and-mortar retail stores. If the last few years are any indication of what’s to come, package delivery management will become increasingly important for landlords, property managers, and HOAs in 2018.

As technology continues to improve, we expect to see other solutions emerge. Until then, these?package delivery management strategies should at least give you some reprieve as you get through this holiday season!

Amanda Maher is a self-proclaimed policy wonk who dabbles in real estate law. Amanda holds a B.S. in Political Science and Sociology from Boston University, as well as a Masters in Urban and Regional Policy from Northeastern.

The post How to Deal with an Influx of Package Deliveries at Your Property This Holiday Season appeared first on APM.

#182 Filing Insurance Claims On Rentals with Kim and Scott Hampton

Kim and Scott Hampton manage around 1,000 doors in the Central Florida market and they recently had to file 60 insurance claims due to recent hurricanes. In this episode they will share the tips they’ve learned along the way.

Check out this episode of the RentPrep For Landlords podcast

The post #182 Filing Insurance Claims On Rentals with Kim and Scott Hampton appeared first on RentPrep.

The Best Tenant Excuses For Late Rent

All landlords want are good tenants that pay rent on time. However, getting the occupants of their rental properties to pay what they owe, in full and on time, is no easy task. Landlords have heard just about every excuse in the book, and  to end a lease agreement when its term expires.

Why Tenants Give Excuses for Late Rent

Every landlord has heard one or more of the same old excuses as to why their tenant hasn’t paid the rent. From forgetting the due date to paying another bill first, tenants seem to think that their problems need to become the landlord’s problems, too.

Tenants seem like they can use any number of excuses for not paying rent. They know they can get away with it because the landlord is bound by rules regarding eviction. Ultimately, tenants that deliver excuses instead of rent know there won’t be any immediate severe consequences.

Some landlords are content to give tenants a break with late rent, allowing dangerous habits to form between landlords and tenants.  Other landlords decide it is better to accept late rent than to go through the eviction process. However, many landlord won’t put up with any excuses for late rent and take steps immediately, like sending pay or quit notices and charging late fees.

Landlords Share the Best Tenant Excuses for Late Rent

Most landlords have a ridiculous story or two about tenants they currently have or past tenants. Many of these tales have to do with excuses for late rent.

Lots of excuses have to do with being too busy, such as not being able to swing by the leasing office or not having enough time to buy a stamp. Other excuses center on the money going elsewhere. Examples include paying for a funeral of a distant relative, sending their teen to prom or paying other bills first. A common excuse is that the tenants had to use rent money for something for their children. Tenants often hope landlords will give them a break if kids are involved.

Tenants often expect landlords to give them a break when they want to take a vacation or have other travel needs. Still other tenants give the excuse of problems with paychecks from work or difficulties depositing them at the bank.

Finally, there are always a few silly excuses that landlords have a hard time taking seriously. These include excuses like they were robbed on the way to the leasing office, their dog ate the money order or they didn’t pay because the landlord was on vacation.

RentPrep’s Take On Tenant Excuses for Late Rent

Landlords will hear every excuse for late rent there is, but they should not be swayed from collecting rent. The longer the rent is not paid, the harder it is for the tenants to make up.

Once in a while, tenants have legitimate excuses. Landlords can decide on a case by case basis whether to allow late rent. Mostly, landlords should start the pay or quit process after the grace period for payment has expired.

Landlords can also use social media to figure out whether a tenant is telling the truth. Too often, a tenant gives an excuse for late rent (my hours got cut at work). Then the truth is revealed via photos and content from their social media account (I’m really on a vacation).

What Are Other Landlords Saying About Tenant Excuses for Late Rent

Every landlord must have rent paid on time and in full to make their real estate investment business profitable. Tenant excuses are designed to buy them a little time, hoping the landlord will take it easy on them. However, like all other bills, there needs to be consequences for not paying.

Here’s a screenshot of landlords discussing this question in our private Facebook group for Landlords.

tenant excuses for late rent

You can see even more comments on that post by checking it out in the group.

The post The Best Tenant Excuses For Late Rent appeared first on RentPrep.

Ask an Expert: What’s the Risk of Hiring Unlicensed Roofers?

Q&A: I’m a brand-new board member of a condo unit in Hawaii. We need some patchwork done on a pitch and tar roof. A unit owner has offered to do the work for a much-reduced rate, plus the cost of materials, which would save us a bundle… but he’s not a licensed contractor. The board voted to have him do it because if we had to hire a licensed roofing company, we’d need a special assessment. I voted no. Is this even legal?

–Honolulu, Hawaii

Unlicensed roofers? Ladders? Pitch and tar? Bad idea. Make sure that your association has your director’s and officer’s liability insurance premiums paid up, because that’s just the beginning of the precautions you’d need to take before using unlicensed roofers.

Let’s set aside the question about whether it’s legal for a moment and think through the process: What happens if this unlicensed roofer’s assistant falls down the ladder carrying a bucket of tar and gets scalded or hurts his neck? Well, that starts the beginning of a pretty ugly process.

The guy hasn’t bothered to go get a contractor’s license, but he’s acting as a contractor. If he doesn’t think that getting a license is important (and posting the bond that goes with it), what else is he not going to find important?

Do you think he carries worker’s compensation insurance to protect himself and his workers?

If he doesn’t carry worker’s compensation insurance, and someone gets hurt, that someone is going to dial a worker’s compensation attorney by the end of the day. When he discovers that there’s no worker’s compensation insurance to protect the employee, do you think your resident is going to be able to write a check to make it go away?

Probably not. If your residents were that flush, your board wouldn’t be wincing at a much-needed special assessment or dues increase.

Now, think this through a bit further: If your roofer hasn’t bothered to get licensed, do you think he’s going to provide the proper scaffolding, safety harnesses, barriers, or tie-offs? How much experience does he have? Is he even up on the current OSHA safety standards and other laws and regulations specific to roofing?

So the plaintiff’s attorney will work his way through the liability chain and come to your association–which is now on record as knowingly hiring unlicensed roofers. He’ll use the discovery process to subpoena the minutes of your board of directors’ meeting, as well as all emails and correspondence about it, and he’ll nail your association to the wall.

If your residents think an assessment for a roofing job is expensive, just wait till they see this one!

According to an OSHA report using data from 2007, the average cost of a roofer’s claim arising from a fall from a ladder or scaffolding was $68,000. The average cost of a roofer’s fall from elevation was $106,000–and that was a decade ago.

And that’s simply working out the fairly narrow risk of an injured worker. What if someone else gets hurt? What if he causes damage to the roof?

Think he carries general contractors’ liability insurance?

Think he carries construction defect insurance?

Sure, your association may carry some insurance–but when that insurance company sees that your association deliberately hired unlicensed roofers in violation of Hawaii law, do you think they might contest your claim?

I’d also advise you to check your bylaws carefully: Most professionally drafted condo association bylaws and other governing documents contain language prohibiting unlicensed contractors from working on common areas. If this is true, your association is likely in violation of its own bylaws, which is part of your contract with the association members. If the board is acting in violation of the bylaws, your association–and every single one of your members–has a cause of action to go after the board of directors for damages.

In my view, your fellow board members were grossly negligent–criminally so–in knowingly allowing unlicensed roofers to set foot on a worksite. In fact, your board specifically selected them.

Is this a matter of a close relationship between the roofer and one or more board members? If he’s a family member, that could also raise some serious conflict of interest issues. Maybe some board members should have recused themselves.

Now, let’s proceed to Hawaii law: If the total value of the job will be less than $1000 (very unusual for roofing jobs!), and there’s no building permit required, there’s no crime committed. If the total cost of the labor and materials together exceeds $1000, a contractor’s license is required.

Here’s a quarterly report of Hawaii enforcement activities against unlicensed contracting from 2011.

But even if the job is less than $1000, and there’s no legal requirement to have a license, the risk management, insurance, and liability issues don’t go away.

It also takes a licensed contractor to sign a building permit. Now, in your case, it’s probably not needed: Certain re-roofing projects, in which you’re resurfacing the roof with the same material, don’t require a building permit in Hawaii. But if you’re not an expert, get a licensed contractor in on the process right away.

One more issue: Hawaii has a state contractors’ recovery fund. Each year, Hawaii’s community of licensed contractors pays into a fund that protects consumers against the costs of jobs that go wrong. This fund provides up to $12,500 in potential protection per contract, at no cost to you. But you don’t get to file a claim with the contractors’ recovery fund if you didn’t hire a licensed contractor.

Going forward, it’s a good idea to check with state authorities and verify that every contractor has a current license (call 808-587-3222). I’d also have each contractor who sets foot on your property provide a certificate of insurance prior to issuing a contract, and have your day-to-day business manager double-check the status prior to work beginning.

For more information on hiring unlicensed roofers and other contractors, see this brochure from the Hawaii Regulated Industries Complaints Office.

Good luck!

The post Ask an Expert: What’s the Risk of Hiring Unlicensed Roofers? appeared first on APM.

Do Landlords Need To Give Notice When Ending a One Year Lease?

Sometimes a landlord wants to end a lease agreement when its term expires. Usually this is because they no longer want the tenants in the rental property. Whether this is due to bad behavior, spotty rental payment, or other reason, there’s no reason for landlords to renew.

However, landlords do need to indicate their intentions and give the tenants enough notice when ending a one year lease.

How to Give Notice When Ending a One Year Lease

There are certain steps they must take to notify the tenants of the non-renewal. Most states require the landlord to give some kind of written notice to the tenant. The lease renewal notice period is usually 30 to 60 days, depending on the state. At that time, landlords need to mail or hand-deliver a letter that states that the tenant’s lease will come to an end on a given date.

In that letter, the landlord does not have to provide a reason for the non-renewal of the lease. State laws protect landlords in this way, allowing them to terminate a lease without needing a reason whenever the expiration of a lease happens.

If the tenant fails to vacate the rental property by the time the lease agreement is up, landlords will go ahead with that tenant’s eviction.

Failing to Give Notice When Ending a One Year Lease

If a landlord does not give the written notice that the lease will not be renewed, a one year lease will transition into a month-to-month lease agreement. This means that either the landlord or the tenant can end the lease agreement with a 30-day written notice. Neither party needs to give a reason for the termination.

If the landlord wants to end the lease but the tenants do not, it’s important to communicate with each other. Landlords should explain the process and cite state law as they will likely be more familiar with the process than the tenants.

Under no circumstances should landlords accept rent or agree to any new leasing terms beyond the original lease term if they want the tenants to vacate. The court will interpret either of these actions as being a default extension for the original lease as one that is now month-to-month.

RentPrep’s Take On Giving Notice When Ending a One Year Lease

Landlords need to comply with the laws of their state when it comes to giving notice when ending a one year lease. They need to communicate their intentions and try to give the tenant enough notice so they can vacate.

The state laws try to be fair to both parties. Because both the tenant and the landlord are bound by the contract that is the lease agreement, they are both beholden to it. If there are any complications regarding giving notice when ending a one year lease, landlords should consult with a landlord/tenant attorney.

What Are Other Landlords Saying About Giving Notice When Ending a One Year Lease

Every landlord needs to protect themselves and their rental business. There are many real-life examples of how landlords are dealing with ending lease agreements in the RentPrep Facebook group.

Here’s a screenshot of landlords discussing this question in our private Facebook group for Landlords.

notice when ending a one year lease

You can see even more comments on that post by checking it out in the group.

The post Do Landlords Need To Give Notice When Ending a One Year Lease? appeared first on RentPrep.