On Tuesday, June 2, 2009, I served as a faculty member for "Landlord & Tenant Law: Beyond the Basics". The seminar was offered by Sterling Education Services, Inc., and approximately twenty-five people from varying backgrounds attended. Although there were lawyers in attendance, the majority of the participants were property managers and landlords who deal with ongoing and troubling tenant issues on a daily basis. Some of our clients attended and as part of our discussions, shared some of the challenges they face in managing the landlord/tenant relationship.
My presentation focused on problem tenants, landlords’ rights and options when a tenant is in default of his or her lease, and handling an eviction hearing before the Magisterial District Judge. Several topics sparked discussion among and questions from the participants, including the treatment and/or handling of illegal immigrants in a rental situation, and how and when to dispose of personal items left behind by a tenant who has vacated the leased premises. The varied levels of experience among the participants gave each audience member an opportunity to hear about different ways in which to proceed with a difficult tenant situation, which they may have never considered.
Regardless of whether we were talking about a tenant’s failure to pay rent, failure to abide by the rules and regulations, or failure to notify the landlord of problems with the leased property, our discussions always came back to the lease provisions. This seminar reinforced for everyone in attendance the importance of having a written lease that clearly sets forth a tenant’s obligations. From time to time, as new tenants are coming into a residential or commercial property you may own, consider revising an outdated lease.