Top 5 Legal Hotline Questions: Property Management
January 17, 2023
1. What are the requirements for an emotional support animal?
A: If a tenant requests an emotional support animal, it’s important to remember that you can’t treat this animal like a pet (so no pet rent or pet deposit). If you do not want to automatically approve the animal, you have to enter into a good faith interactive process with the tenant to see if there is some other way to accommodate the tenant’s needs. You also cannot deny the animal based solely on the breed of dog requested, even if that particular breed isn’t covered by the homeowner’s insurance policy. If the tenant’s disability is not obvious, you may ask for additional documentation that they have a disability and that the disability requires the use of the animal.
2. Can I deny a tenant who wants to pay rent using money from family?
A: It depends on the number of properties owned by the landlord. If the landlord owns five or more properties, then denying a tenant solely for that reason would be a violation of the Fair Housing protection for source of funds. DPOR’s guidance document states that landlords may not refuse sources of funds based on the duration of such funds without potentially violating Fair Housing. If you’re worried about not being able to collect past-due rent in such a situation, you can require that the family member(s) co-sign the lease or sign as a guarantor. Landlords who own four or fewer properties may legally deny a tenant based on the source of funds.
3. Do I have to have my broker sign the VAR lease for it to be valid?
A: The lease is valid as long as both the tenant and the landlord sign. VAR’s lease allows the broker to sign on behalf of the landlord, but if the landlord signs the broker’s signature is not required.
4. I have a tenant who signed his lease in 2018. He is now late on his rent and I want to file an unlawful detainer against him, but the judge says I have to send him the Statement of Tenant’s Rights first. Is that correct?
A: The law requiring the statement was passed in 2020, but it says that the document should be provided to tenants within one month of the effective date of the lease. Failing to provide the document does not make the lease invalid, but you have to send it to the tenant before starting any legal action against them, even if the lease is old. The law does not require that the tenant sign it, just that you send it to them.
5. We have a tenant who owes back rent, but he has recently filed for bankruptcy. Can we move forward?
A: Bankruptcy puts a hold on most legal proceedings against the person who files for it. You will want to make sure that the bankruptcy trustee knows that the tenant owes you money so you can be added to the list of creditors. You may want to contact an attorney to help guide you through that process.
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