Archive

Posts Tagged ‘landlord’

News for Residential Real Estate Investors: DOJ receives Verdict against Landlord Disability Discrimination.

img_1417Here’s a profound truth those in the real estate industry will readily acknowledge:

Owning and Managing Real Estate is uniquely challenging.

I hear it from my Property Owner/Manager clients. I experience it when I am involved in negotiating in landlord/tenant disputes.

I believe that is why, at least in West Michigan, there is an opportunity for good property management companies – and a handful of companies I work with locally do it really well.

 

Some of the pitfalls property owners/managers have to watch out for are illustrated in a recent press release announce by the Department of Justice.

Yesterday the Department of Justice announced that it obtained a verdict in a disability discrimination case against a Landlord

 

 

According to the press release,

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Butte, alleged that Jaclyn Katz, the owner and manager of rental properties in Bozeman, discriminated against Kristen Newman, a tenant with physical and psychiatric disabilities, by charging her a $1,000 deposit as a condition for allowing her to keep her service dog, Riley.  At trial, Newman, her treating therapist and an independent expert testified that Riley assisted Newman in living with the symptoms of her disabilities, including providing emotional support, helping to predict migraines, and reducing suicidal thoughts.  Newman also testified that she repeatedly informed Katz that charging a deposit for a service animal was illegal and that Newman understood that she would have to pay for any actual damage caused by her service dog.

 

 

Not good.

A right to a Service animal is legally protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Michigan Law requires a public accommodation to permit the use of a service animal by a person with a disability.

Among other things:

“A public accommodation shall not ask a person with a disability to remove a service animal from the premises due to allergies or fear of the animal. A public accommodation may only ask a person with a disability to remove his or her service animal from the premises if either of the following applies:

(a) The service animal is out of control and its handler does not take effective action to control it.

(b) The service animal is not housebroken” MCL 750.502c

 

Landlords and property owners should heed the warning of General Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryan Greene of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.

“Many people with disabilities require the assistance of an animal to carry out major daily activities,” said  “Complaints alleging disability discrimination now account for the majority of the complaints HUD receives. HUD will continue to enforce the law and educate the public on the rights of people with disabilities in housing.”

.

I wonder, did the landlord/property owner ever consult with legal counsel on its practices?

There are some lessons to be learned for landlords, property owners, managers, and real estate investors.

 

Two takeaways from this news headline:

 

1. It is worth being proactive and engaging legal counsel. 

Issues arise. When in doubt, e-mail or call your attorney.

 

2. Residential Real Estate Investment is highly regulated.

If you are a landlord leasing out “residential” property as opposed to purely commercial property (business tenant), you are under much more stringent regulations. You must comply with Federal laws, like the Fair Housing Act and state laws, like the Michigan Truth in Renting Act. Make sure you are operating lawfully.

 

Questions? Comments?

email: Jeshua@dwlawpc.com

http://www.dwlawpc.com

Twitter: @JeshuaTLauka

Real Estate Law and Affordable Housing Issues: Lawsuit Alleges Landlords Discriminating Against Families.

Here’s a profound truth those in the real estate industry will readily acknowledge:

Owning and Managing Real Estate is challenging.

I hear it from my Property Owner/Manager clients. I experience it when I am in court litigating or negotiating landlord/tenant disputes.2017-02-04-08-16-38-2

Here’s another profound truth:

In many parts of the country, including Grand Rapids, Michigan, we have an affordable housing crisis.

Some of the pitfalls property owners should be mindful of are illustrated in a recent Department of Justice Press Release.

The Department of Justice issued a press release today concerning a lawsuit  filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington “alleging that the owners and manager of three Edmonds, Washington apartment buildings refused to rent their apartments to families with children, in violation of the Fair Housing Acts.”

(The complaint is an allegation of unlawful conduct. The allegations must still be proven in federal court.)

According to the press release, the Federal government alleged in its complaint that the “in March 2014, defendant Appleby told a woman seeking an apartment for herself, her husband, and their one year old child that the apartment buildings were “adult only” and therefore not available to her family. The complaint also alleges that at various other times from April 2014 to November 2015, defendants advertised their available apartments as being restricted to adults only

Not good.

The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin and disability.

As stated by Attorney Annette L. Hayes of the Western District of Washington
. ““Many families already face challenges finding affordable housing, and they should not also have to deal with unlawful discrimination.””

“Particularly in our tight housing market, landlords must follow the law and make units available without discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability or familial status.

The lawsuit makes allegations that must be proven in court. However, I wonder, did this Landlord consult with legal counsel on renting practices before posting advertisements for rent?

There are some lessons to be learned for landlords, property owners, managers, and real estate investors.

Two takeaways from this news headline:

1. Before renting, it is worth engaging legal counsel. 

Issues arise. When in doubt, e-mail or call your attorney.

2. Residential Real Estate Investment is highly regulated.

If you are a landlord leasing out “residential” property as opposed to purely commercial property (business tenant), you are under some stringent regulations. To be sure, these rules are there to protect consumers. You must comply with Federal laws, like the Fair Housing Act and state laws, like the Michigan Truth in Renting Act. Make sure you are operating lawfully. Make sure your lease is lawful.

 

Questions? Comments?

email: Jeshua@dwlawpc.com

http://www.dwlawpc.com

Twitter: @JeshuaTLauka

A Lawyer’s Year-End Reflections.

December 29, 2016 Leave a comment

img_1338-002It is the end of 2016. I am having “big picture” thoughts as the year ends.

I have a pretty nice “big picture” view out of my office window.

Out of my office window from the 12th floor of 99 Monroe overlooks many ice skaters at Rosa Parks’ Circle in downtown Grand Rapids.

It is certainly a fun time of the year: my kids love Christmas break – being home from school, getting presents, visiting with family.

But right now I can’t help but feel a sense of heaviness in my heart.

My grandmother passed away last week. Traveling home to Saginaw to see her in her last days and attend the funeral was challenging.

The reality is that this time of year is hard for many people, for many reasons.

This week I was reminded specifically of this hard reality when I attended a court hearing for a real estate investor client. FYI, to any real estate owner or manager, a recent unpublished court of appeals case that you might want to check out: Anderson v Chaundy. This case provides a good example of what not to do when evicting a tenant.

If you want to feel depressed, just show up at any local courthouse for the landlord/tenant docket.

Invariably, you will see among those present, individuals whose spirits are down – for all sorts of reasons.

I was in the courtroom this particular day and couldn’t help but notice the hopelessness in the eyes of a particular individual being evicted for non-payment of rent. I also noticed the distinct smell of alcohol on this person, at 9 in the morning.

This person did not dispute that they owed rent. The result? This person would be ordered out of their apartment in ten days.

I’m not ashamed to say that as the current Chairman of the Board of Mel Trotter Ministries, I care very deeply about the homeless, hurting, and hungry.

Walking out of the courtroom, my “Mel Trotter” hat keeps my mind going…

What is going to become of this person?

Maybe they end up sleeping in their car, maybe under a bridge.

Hopefully this person ends up receiving help – to meet them where they are at. Places like Mel Trotter Ministries, that will take in families and individuals to care for them – provide them time to get into affordable housing.

An encouraging statistic – since January 2016, MTM has placed 217 families & individuals into permanent homes.

I’m not trying to bring anyone down during a festive time of year – but as this year ends I wanted to bring two “big picture” realities to the forefront:

  1. The Holiday Season aside, there remains great injustice in this world.
  2. There is great hope.

There are families and individuals that are truly hurting this holiday season.

There are people who have lost loved ones; lost homes. People who are victims of injustice.

The good news is that we can all do something to offer hope to the hopeless.

You can volunteer or provide a year end gift to support organizations locally, like Mel Trotter MinistriesKalamazoo Gospel MissionKids Food Basket, Volunteers in ServiceWestwood Christian ServicesHQ Grand Rapids, Goodwill Industries of Greater Grand Rapids, or globally, like International Justice MissionCompassion International, and many more.

I hope you will join me in this Christmas season and send out gifts and prayers to make an impact in the lives of those hurting.

Community Development: The Tension Between Real Estate Entrepreneurship and Keeping Families In Affordable Housing.

July 25, 2016 1 comment

This morning I read a MIBiz article by Nick Manes titled:

Hungry investors seek Grand Rapids housing deals, rankling longtime residents

The article does a good job of addressing the “tension” that I wrote about in a previous post. New investment in downtown Grand Rapids is exciting. But, as Nick Manes puts it, the flip-side of this new development is the “concern that new investment would lead to displacement of long-time residents.

Nick, in his article, illustrates this tension as articulated through the  interviews of the many interested parties: developers, investors, homeowners, renters, and community stakeholders.

As I’ve mentioned in my prior article, as a business/real estate lawyer and Chairman of the Board at Mel Trotter Ministries – I see this tension. I often find myself advocating on both sides of this tension.

Because of these different “hats” I wear, I have had to ask myself – what do I do with this tension?

I am committed to embracing this tension.

I am committed to ask the question: “Am I working to build a better community?

Just like I ended my previous article on this subject, so I will end this one:

 We should encourage entrepreneurs to revitalize blighted property – we should do everything we can to place families in affordable housing.

Let’s embrace the tension.

E-mail: Jeshua@dwlawpc.com

www.dwlawpc.com

Twitter: @JeshuaTLauka

Michigan Real Estate Law Update: Landlords May Send Eviction Notice by E-mail

Happy Friday!

I’ve previously posted on the Michigan Bill introduced in the House that would allow Landlords to send Tenants eviction notices by E-mail – check out that article here

Yesterday, the Governor signed the Bill into Law.

The Story was reported by the Midland Daily News

The Law allows service via e-mail based upon the landlord and tenant’s written agreement.

I commented in March that I would be interested in seeing the Bill in its final form, you can check it out here

The law certainly provides a more detailed procedure as well as definitions than proposed by the original bill.

Take away for Property Owners/Landlords:

Landlords will want to update their standard Lease Agreements to provide for the option to send notice to quit tenancy by e-mail.

Further, Landlords must understand that a Tenant has the right to refuse to consent to e-mail service. A landlord cannot refuse a tenant simply because they don’t consent to e-mail service of an eviction notice.

Questions? Comments?

e-mail: Jeshua@dwlawpc.com

http://www.dwlawpc.com

Michigan Real estate law update: House Passes “Notice to Evict by E-mail” Bill

March 20, 2015 Leave a comment

Happy March Madness Friday!

Yesterday House Bill 4038 allowing eviction notices to be sent to residential tenants by e-mail passed the Michigan House.

Now on to the Senate.

You can check out the latest Legislative Analysis here

The Passed Bill looks a bit more complicated (as anticipated) than the original bill that was proposed back earlier this month. See here

What’s Different:

The substituted bill included detailed definition of “document” “electronic service” “electronic service address”

It also provides clarity to tenants – they cannot be penalized for “opting out” of notification by e-mail.

Tenants may want to consider this, assuming the bill becomes law.

Lots of Public Attention:

I also find it interesting that this topic received a lot of attention – just look at the different sectors of the real estate industry that weighed in:

  • A representative of the Property Management Association of Michigan testified in support of the bill. (3-3-15)
  • The Michigan Judges Association submitted written testimony in support of the bill. (3-2-15)
  • The Rental Property Owners Association of Michigan indicated support for the bill. (3-3-15)
  • The Apartment Association of Michigan indicated support for the bill. (3-3-15)
  • Princeton Enterprises indicated support for the bill. (3-3-15)
  • A representative of the Michigan Poverty Law Program testified that the entity is neutral on the H-2 Substitute. (3-3-15)
  • A representative of the Michigan Process Servers Alliance submitted written testimony opposing the bill. (3-3-15) Leg

Questions? Comments?

e-mail: Jeshua@dwlawpc.com

http://www.dwlawpc.com

Michigan Real Estate Legislative Update: Eviction Notice by E-mail?

About a year ago I posted an article on a Michigan House Bill that would allow landlords to evict tenants by e-mail. Check out my article here.

I never reported back on that Bill, because it sat in the Judiciary Committee for the entire year.

Suffice it to say, that Bill was never enacted, but it’s come back in 2015 as HB 4038

Back on January 21, 2015 the Bill (in the exact same form) was introduced once again and referred to the Judiciary Committee. HB 4038 appears to have made some progress since the House Fiscal Agency deemed it worthwhile to issue a fiscal analysis.

I will be interested to see if the Bill makes progress this time around. I will be sure to keep you posted.

One Important Point

If enacted, landlords, property owners, and private investors will want to ensure that their lease agreements are updated to permit the service of such Notice of Eviction via e-mail.

The bill, in its current form would only allow service via e-mail based upon the landlord and tenant’s written agreement.

If your tenant doesn’t agree to that language, you don’t automatically have the right to send the notice via e-mail.

Questions? Comments?

email: Jeshua@dwlawpc.com

http://www.dwlawpc.com