CATHERINE M. MATTHEWS (R), GRI
Broker-In Charge, Callahan Realty, Ltd.
Past President, Oahu Chapter
National Association of Residential Property Managers
NARPM had a very successful sold out conference for owners on August 21, 2018. There was a panel question and answer period at the end of the day. Below are some short questions and answers that came up, many of which we were not able to get to due to time constraints. This will be a two part series.
Q. Can you charge a late fee on the second day of the month if the rent is not paid?
A. I am assuming you have the first as a due date for the rent. You may charge a late fee on the second day of the month as long as it is clearly stated in your lease. There is no requirement for a grace period.
Q. Is there a statute of limitations regarding damage found which was caused by a tenant who moved out and you have already returned the deposit?
A. The tenant has a year to bring any disputes against a Landlord relating to security deposit refunds but there is no law giving recourse to the landlord. The landlord has 14 days to process out the security deposit and withhold any legitimate expenses associated with damage, cleaning, lost keys, etc. In general as a Landlord, you are saying that you have done your due diligence in inspecting the property and reconciling damages by the act of re-funding the deposit. If you just missed something, I would say that is a cost of doing business. If the tenant was covering something up deliberately which prevented you from finding it, you may be able to take them to small claims court. I suggest you decide if the cost would be worth the time and effort involved. I suspect you would also need to prove that that person caused the damage; if a period of time has gone by or another person has moved in it may be a very difficult position. I would consult an attorney to see if this would be an option.
Q. I have a unit in a condominium that has a no pet rule and my tenant has just shown me a letter that they need an emotional support dog, what do I do?
A. By law you have to make a reasonable accommodation for a person with a disability in if they ask for one. The condominium is in the same boat and would have to make the accommodation as well – regardless of their no pet rule. I suggest you have the tenant bring the letter to the manager of the Association so the letter is on file and they are notified of the need to allow the accommodation. At that time, the manager can let your tenant know of any rules such as where the dog may alleviate itself on the property. Be sure that your tenant knows they are responsible for leash laws, picking up after their dog, etc.
Q. Is it allowable for a tenant to do repairs and/or improvements to the property and I lower the rent that month?
A. I do not think this is a good practice and I would not recommend this as you do not have control over the quality of the repairs/improvements and this could create problems. What if the job is done poorly, what would your recourse be? You may also want to seek the advice of a tax professional because you may owe taxes on the entire amount of the rent and not the reduced portion. There is no law precluding you from doing this though unless the job entails plumbing or electrical work, then you must use licensed contractors.