What Was This Landlord Thinking?

By E-Renter Tenant Screening
Posted on May 31, 2011 under Eviction, Lease and Rental Agreements | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

tenant screening, tenant background checkA young college student in Orlando moved out of a shared apartment before the lease was up. She left several pieces of valuable stereo equipment behind because she had no room for it in her new apartment. When the lease expired, her roommates moved out and left her property in the unit. The landlord then discovered the stereo equipment and that she’d painted her bedroom without permission.

The landlord informed the former tenant that she would not get her property back because she left it for so long and had painted her room. She offered to give the equipment back if the former tenant repainted the room to match the rest of the rental unit.

What was this landlord thinking?
In most jurisdictions, it is not legal to hold a tenant’s property in return for back rent or repairs. Nor is it the landlord’s responsibility to serve as a storage business for a former tenant’s property. This landlord could assume the property was abandoned. And that the tenant never read the lease clause where she agreed to ask for permission before painting. Still, holding property for ransom is not allowed.

Recently, a landlord in Minneapolis ranted about a tenant on his Facebook page. While he didn’t use any names, the description was clear enough—especially since the complaint was about hearing loud outbursts from a tenant’s developmentally challenged child. Not only was this heartless, it was not smart. The description narrowed the possibilities down to one.

What was this landlord thinking?
There is no substitute for discretion when you’re a landlord. Tenant issues should be confidential. And of course this landlord chose the wrong venue to discuss a tenant problem! Facebook posts have a way of going beyond your circle of friends. Plus, there’s no way to know who your friends’ friends are. In this case, the tenant caught wind of the rant and consulted a lawyer.

A landlord in California did not require a tenant to sign a new lease when her boyfriend and his toddler son moved into her apartment. She completed a new lease application and paid the fee, and assumed he had been added. However, she didn’t question that no new lease ever appeared for her to sign. Her rent checks were paid from a joint account under both her and her boyfriend’s names.

Eventually, the tenant discovered some peeling paint and, because the building was old, she tested it with a home lead paint detection kit. The results were positive. She filed a complaint with the landlord, who claimed she was not entitled to action because the boyfriend was not on the lease, and that he and the young child were squatters. The landlord threatened eviction. The tenant countered that she filled out an application and paid a fee, but had no copy of the application or of the $35 payment.

What was this landlord thinking?
Especially in California, every interaction with tenants should be in writing. In this case, the tenant probably has a case that she is being retaliated against because of the lead paint complaint. Both sides should have kept better records, but when it comes to eviction, a landlord should have documentation to back up every claim.

Legal disclaimer:
The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only, and should not be relied upon as a substitute for obtaining legal advice applicable to your situation.

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