Westchester, NY Landlord & Small Business Law Blog

Monday, December 30, 2013

Make Sure You Are Paid Before Occupancy by Tenant

Recently I have had a number of new eviction matters where the tenant gave the landlord a bad check for the security deposit and first month's rent.  The checks were written on closed accounts and of course, the tenant did not make good on the bad check.  The tenant had to be evicted causing my client to lose rent and to have to pay me for the eviction.

Although, what the tenant did was a crime in New York, the police had no interest in prosecuting the tenant because "it is a civil matter."  Unfortunately, landlords are treated differently from retain establishments.  If a customer gave a store a check from a closed account and received merchandise in exchange, the police would prosecute.  But when it's a tenant, they won't prosecute.

As a landlord you MUST make sure that you get paid by the tenant before the tenant moves in.  As soon as the tenant moves in, even if he/she gave you a bad check, you have to go through the eviction process to get the tenant out of the premises.  The best way to make sure you get paid is to require the tenant to give you the security deposit and first month's rent in cash.  Under New York State law you are required to give the tenant a receipt for the cash, but that's easy to do.  If the tenant wants to give you a check and tells you that he cannot give you cash do not rent the apartment to him/her.  Anyone who has the money in a checking account to give you a good check can get the cash out of the account. 

If you accept the tenant's check you will not know for several days whether it will clear.  By that time it is too late.  You've lost the rent and have incurred the expense of an eviction.

Glen P. Malia


Friday, December 27, 2013

Time to Weed Out Bad Tenants

At this time of year we are all looking at what we accomplished this year and what we hope to accomplish next year.  If you are a landlord you should be looking at your tenants and deciding which of them should be eliminated.

Now is the time to do that.  Presently in Westchester County, New York there is a real tight rental market and it may become even tighter as the "accidental" landlords, those who couldn't sell their houses so rented them out instead, find they can now sell.

Many businesses regularly weed out the under performing employees.  What not weed out the under performing tenants.  After all they are kind of like employees, they make money for you.

If you have any tenants who have become bad tenants, who don't pay their rent on time, who don't take care of the property, who don't follow your rules, or who just complain too much, decide to get rid of them this year.  How exactly you do this depends on whether the tenant has a written lease or is a month-to-month tenant.  It's not really that hard to evict a tenant if you know what you are doing.  Make your life easier and your business, being a landlord, more profitable by weeding out your bad tenants in 2014.

Glen P. Malia

Malia Law LLC--a firm devoted to helping landlords solve problems, protect their assets and make more money. www.thelandlordguy.com

Monday, December 16, 2013

Do Not Discrimate When Leasing Premises

I read a recent newspaper article about a landlord in Westchester County New York agreeing to pay a significant penalty to the US for discriminating against prospective tenants.  The action against the landlord was commenced by the US Attorneys' office after an investigation in which undercover operatives sought to rent an apartment from the landlord.  The landlord tried to avoid renting to minority tenants.  Unfortunately there are many landlords just like this one who was caught discriminating.

Why shouldn't a landlord discriminate against minority tenants?  It's illegal and can lead to serious consequences.  It's morally and ethically wrong.  It decreases the potential pool of tenants.  It's bad business. 

Glen P. Malia

Malia Law LLC--a firm devoted to helping landlords solve problems, protect their assets and make more money. www.thelandlordguy.com

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

This Is Not the Way to Evict a Bad Tenant

Recently in my area a homeowner owner was arrested for trying to set her house on fire.  Apparently, she had a bad tenant who she could just not get rid of so she attempted to burn the house down.

This was a bad idea for some many obvious reasons.

The property owner was charged with a felony, could go to state prison and she did not get the tenant out.  If she had been successful she would also have destroyed, probably, her most valuable asset.

No doubt, a landlord can get frustrated at how long it can take to evict a bad tenant, but that's no an excuse for using self-help.  Just so long as the landlord has the grounds to evict the tenant, and takes the proper legal steps, the eviction will eventually occur.  Using an experienced, knowledgeable landlord attorney will usually make the process go faster. 

It's a lot cheaper to pay an attorney an eviction than for felony criminal charges.

Glen P. Malia


Monday, December 2, 2013

Westchester County, New York Source of Income Law

It's now effective.  The Westchester County New York Source of Income Law.  It is now illegal for a landlord to refuse to rent an apartment to a tenant because the tenant's rent will be paid by Section 8 or DSS.  Whether this is a good law or a bad law is a matter for discussion on another day--but it is the law.

The law applies to landlords who have more than one rental building or have one rental building that has more than six rental units. 

No longer should real estate brokers ask landlords if they accept Section 8 and no longer CAN landlords refuse to accept Section 8 tenants.  But there are so many ways around this law that landlords who do not want to accept Section 8 should not be concerned.

To find out how to avoid accepting Section 8 tenants landlords should speak with an attorney who is an experienced landlord/tenant attorney who also knows the Section 8 rules and regulations.

Glen P. Malia     

Malia Law LLC--A law firm devoted to helping landlords solve problems and make more money.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Landlords: Get rid of that bad tenant

What is a bad tenant?

A bad tenant is any tenant who is not a good tenant.  A good tenant pays the rent on time, follows the rules (eg no smoking, no pets, no loud parties, etc.), takes care of the property and does not complain.  A bad tenant is anyone else. 

There are distinct levels of bad tenants, depending on how many traits of the good tenant are lacking.

  1. Bad tenant--A tenant who doesn't pay the rent on time or doesn't follow the rules or doesn't take care of the property or complains.
  2. Very bad tenant--A tenant who doesn't pay the rent on time and/or doesn't follow the rules and/or doesn't take care of the property and/or complains (pick any 2)
  3. Awful tenant--A tenant who doesn't pay the rent on time and/or doesn't follow the rules and/or doesn't take care of the property and/or complains (pick any 3)
  4. Tenant from hell--A tenant who doesn't pay the rent on time and doesn't follow the rules and doesn't take care of the property and complains

A good tenant can become a bad tenant but a bad tenant will NEVER become a good tenant and can become a tenant from hell.  That's why a landlord must get rid of a bad tenant as soon as possible.

Malia Law, LLC located in Cortlandt Manor, NY represents Landlords/Tenants throughout Westchester County, Putnam County and Southern Dutchess County, NY.

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