Legal Questions April Part 1

Kimball, Tirey & St. John LLP

Questions & Answers

Ted Kimball, Esq.
April, 2013

1. Question: If I gave a resident a thirty-day notice of rent increase which ends on the tenth of
the following month, can I charge the resident pro-rated rent for the first nine days at the daily
rental value before the rent increase and the other twenty one days at the daily rental value of
the increased amount?
Answer: Yes, the rent increase is effective thirty calendar days from the date of service of the
increase. The notice has to be for sixty days if the rent increase is more than ten percent from
what it was one year before.
2. Question: Is there a “rule of thumb” for carpet depreciation?
Answer: It depends upon the quality of the carpet. You need to find out from the manufacturer
the life span of the carpet under “ordinary wear and tear.” If it has to be replaced before that
time, it may have been subject to extraordinary wear and tear and then the tenant would be held
liable for the loss of use of the carpet.
3. Question: If the contract says no pets, but does not specify fish, can I stop a tenant from
keeping a 150-gallon aquarium?
Answer: Fish are considered pets by most judges so they are violating the lease by having a
150-gallon tank. A small goldfish bowl may not constitute a major breach, but a 150-gallon tank
most likely does.
4. Question: I have a former tenant who claims, since she had a one-year lease, she is not
obligated to give a thirty-day notice.
Answer: There is no statutory requirement that a thirty-day notice of non-renewal be given
during a fixed term lease, but if the lease requires a notice of non-renewal and she fails to give
one, she is in breach of the lease and can be liable for any losses you suffer as a result.
5. Question: Can an apartment community charge a monthly pet rent and pet deposit to have
a pet?
Answer: Yes, so long as it does not apply to service animals for the disabled.
6. Question: How does one collect on a judgment against a former resident?
Answer: A judgment can be collected in a variety of ways: wage garnishment, bank levy,
seizure of non-exempt personal property and sale are the most common. A judgment debtor
examination can also be used to locate assets, and if the debtor fails to appear, a warrant is
issued for their arrest.
7. Question: One of our tenants was recently arrested and is incarcerated. How does this
affect his lease? Is it considered abandonment?
Answer: The incarceration of a tenant does not have a legal effect on the tenant’s right under
the lease. If the tenant breaches any part of the lease agreement, such as non-payment of rent,
the landlord may take legal steps to evict, and can serve notices to the tenant while in jail.

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