Quick Tip: Client satisfaction is key to stopping case.

This Months Video Topic:

Announcement:

LLF to run contest PRIOR to the 2015 CTAA tradeshow

That’s right folks – to celebrate our 10th year of participation in the annual CTAA tradeshow, we’re running a separate contest PRIOR to the event. If you are pre-registered for this year’s show, and your email address was provided to the CTAA during the registration process, we’ll be sending you a separate email prior to the show with a link to the contest form (please share the contest email and link with those attendees who’s email address WASN’T provided at time of registration).

All responses must be submitted prior to 9 am the day of the show to be entered. It’s that easy.

What? You’re not registered??? Well, it’s not too late. Just jump over to the tradeshow website to learn more.

So, watch your email for our upcoming contest announcement. And if you’re not registered, hop to it! It ought to be quite an event. Hope to see you at Foxwoods!

[TOP]


Lead Article:

Who ever said fair housing was fair?

We are all part of a”protected class” of people under the federal Fair Housing Act and Connecticut’s Discriminatory Housing Practices Act (“CDHPA”) – and these aren’t the only laws that apply. That’s right, all of us. Don’t believe me???

The CDHPA prohibits discrimination in housing based on:

  1. Race or color
  2. National origin
  3. Ancestry
  4. Religion
  5. Sex
  6. Marital Status
  7. Age
  8. Familial Status
  9. Disability
  10. Lawful source of income
  11. Sexual orientation

I bet you fit into at least ten of these categories. And, so does everyone else. Exactly what it means to discriminate against someone based on one of these eleven categories is
not nearly as straight forward as you might think. There are subtleties to negotiate with each one and having sound training, policies, and enforcement is the best way to ensure that you and your company are not faced with the prospect of defending against a claim for discrimination.

Even then, you are not guaranteed that someone won’t make a claim. Recently, we have seen an increase in fair housing complaints against management companies and their employees.
These complaints have highlighted two important things:

  1. You must thoroughly document your processes and your communications with your applicants/residents; and
  2. With proper, thorough documentation, it is possible to defend yourself and your company, and protect your business operations as you have designed them, when the complaint made against you is frivolous.

The concept of “fair housing” and the possibility of violating it has become a paralyzing force for many multi-family professionals. The prospect of defending discrimination claims and the cost of doing so – both the economics and the staff interruption – make avoidance a common approach. However, despite the long list of “protected classes” of people, you need not live if fear that every decision you make could fun afoul of “fair housing”. What you need to know is how to spot a potential situation so that when faced with a question, you can contact your landlord attorney and verify that your intended act does not create unintended consequences. Then, with your proper procedures and documentation in place, take the actions you know are appropriate and stop worrying.

You can’t prevent frivolous claims, so don’t let their potential prevent you from managing your property in the best interest of your company and your residents. Just follow your policies, document your actions, and you will be able to make your case when such a claim is lodged against you.

Please keep an eye out for our fair housing seminars with the Connecticut Apartment Association. We are tentatively scheduled for two seminars in April 2016, and we will make sure everyone knows when and where so you can join us. We look forward to seeing you there.

[TOP]


Quick Tip:

Client satisfaction is key to stopping case.

Our landlord clients often ask whether they can or should stop a summary process (eviction) case at various stages due to either:

  • The tenant’s payment (or promise to pay) in a nonpayment of rent case, or
  • A claimed move-out by the tenant or some other event (like the tenant’s arrest) when the tenant is on the verge of eviction.

Our response is to always ask if the client is satisfied. If so, then case can stop. If not, we recommend against stopping the case. Let’s look at each scenario in turn for clarification.

First, imagine a nonpayment of rent case in which the tenant owes money, but then makes a payment, or promises to pay shortly. Should the case stop? When faced with this situation, we recommend our client evaluate whether the tenant has paid the entire arrearage, attorney’s fees, and costs in full, or will in a (very) short timeframe. If the account balance has been satisfied (paid), then the possibility of stopping the case may make sense.

In the second scenario, the case has proceeded to the eviction stage and the tenant says that they moved-out, or a neighbor says the same thing. Alternatively, you learn that the tenant has been arrested for murder with no bail set and apparently no prospect of return (this actually happened). Should the case stop? In both instances, we recommend that the client determine whether the keys have been returned or the execution has been satisfied with the marshal (an eviction has happened, or the marshal has scheduled it and determined that the tenant has vacated and removed all possessions from the unit). If so, then the case may be eligible for stopping.

In either case, if not satisfied, the case should not stop. If the tenant still owes you money and their promises to pay in the past are always broken, stopping the case may find you back at the beginning with a new case in the near future. If the keys have not been returned or the marshal hasn’t cleared the unit for you, you may need to keep your options open for further proceedings, lest you be forced to start another case. One important key to the whole process is communication with your attorney. Remember that the central component of each conversation should be what you want to accomplish. This is also an excellent guiding principle in deciding how you want to proceed with a summary process case or whether you want to bring one in the first place.

Contact your landlord attorney if you are unclear on your options, rights, or obligations in a given scenario with a summary process case, so that you can make the best decision for you and your property.

[TOP]

DISCLAIMER:
The reading of this newsletter does not form an attorney-client relationship. The contents of this newsletter are for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Nothing in this newsletter is intended to imply or predict the outcome of any legal matter that you may be considering or be involved in. The Landlord Law Firm makes no warranties of any kind
regarding the information contained in this newsletter.