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LANDLORD-TENANT DISPUTE TURNS DEADLY

“Hialeah police have questioned and released a man who reportedly shot and killed his former tenant Thursday morning.

According to authorities, the tenant had been evicted Wednesday by Miami-Dade police from the home in the 5600 block of West 10th Avenue. But police say he returned to the property about 1:20 a.m. Thursday and began arguing with the landlord in the front yard.

The dead man, whose name has not been released, brought a baseball bat. At one point during the argument, the landlord pulled out a gun and shot him, according to detectives.

The landlord, who gave a statement to detectives and has been cooperative, has not yet been identified. by police. The Miami Dade state attorney’s office is currently reviewing the evidence to determine…”

To read more click here  http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/05/23/3413125/landlord-tenant-dispute-in-hialeah.html

LANDLORDS CONSIDERING COURT ACTION AGAINST HARRISBURG’S “DISRUPTIVE PROPERTIES” BILL

A recently passed law cracking down on disruptive rental properties in Harrisburg has landlords fuming and considering court action.

Under the law, if the city issues two disruptive conduct reports for tenants at the same rental property within 12 months, the landlord’s residential  rental  permit for the individual apartment will immediately be revoked.

Should the landlord not begin eviction proceedings against anyone living in the rental within 15 days of receiving notice of the permit revocation, the apartment would be considered unfit for occupancy.

Harrisburg is cracking down on “disruptive” people in rental properties.

The law, which goes into effect on Dec. 4, considers disruptive conduct any violation of any city law that can “reasonably” be deemed to disrupt the peace of neighbors or cause damage to neighboring properties.

It will not shut down an entire multiple-unit rental property. Bill 12 only affects the rental housing disruptive tenants. And after a landlord evicts problem tenants from a unit, they again can rent the space.

City Council members and Mayor Linda Thompson said the law protects property owners from disruptive neighbors, will drive away slum landlords and help preserve property values.

But the Capital Area Rental Property Owners Association says the bill is an overreach and unfairly targets landlords and tenants. It will hit investors in the wallet when they can least afford it in the down economy, said Arthur Sullivan, CARPOA president.

“Is City Council setting up a double standard? People who rent homes are still citizens of the city, and as such, all the [same] laws and regulations also apply to them. What I am asking City Council to do is to apply the laws currently on the book,” Sullivan said. “CARPOA is researching the possibility of taking court action to oppose the enforcement of this new bill.”

If property owners rent to quality tenants, they have no reason to worry about the law, Thompson said. She said the bill was drafted in her office and is part of her three-prong fight against blight.

“I would find it difficult to believe that a responsible landlord would reject this legislation,” Thompson said. “[Landlords] wouldn’t want [disruptive neighbors] in their neighborhoods, so how dare [they] expect us to have it in our neighborhood.

“This legislation should have been enacted years ago,” she said. “This does not affect the good landlord. We are going to run the bad guys out. This is the toughest slum landlord action taken in recent city history.”

Violations of Harrisburg’s property maintenance code is considered disruptive conduct under the law.

And should property owners notified of maintenance code violations not take corrective action within the time allotted to them in notices, the city is able to perform repair work on its own, charge owners for work and materials and tack on an additional 10 percent of repair costs.

It affects your whole life when you are next to a house with disrespectful neighbors. … You become a prisoner in your own house.”

Councilwoman Patty Kim, who is set to leave the board to become Harrisburg’s state representative, said she hopes the law acts as a deterant.

Kim said she personally knows how it feels to live next to disruptive neighbors.

She had hoped the bill would impose a more-lenient four-strikes-and-your-out mandate against landlords instead of two. But she said protecting residents from unruly neighbors was a top priority.

“It affects your whole life when you are next to a house with disrespectful neighbors. You feel like your house is a refuge, and then you become a prisoner in your own house,” Kim said. “I am trying to fight for those residents who invested in their house and deserve peace and quiet in their own homes.”

Kim is a landlord herself and said she “goes to great lengths to find quality tenants.” Too many landlords rent properties to tenants without conducting background checks simply to get a monthly rent check, she said.

The law might be perceived as unfair by landlords, but Kim agreed that it would not affect responsible rental property owners.

Larry Hatter disagrees.

Council may have the right intent at heart, but by adopting the law, it has unwittingly pushed a police responsibility onto the backs of landlords, said Hatter, chairman of the Greater Harrisburg Association of Realtors’ Government Affairs Committee.

The law likely will force landlords to evict tenants who, even though they were loud on occasion, pay their rent and haven’t broken leases, Hatter said.

“The purpose for government is to provide protection and the first thing [council did] was cede the responsibility of protection to the landlord,” he said. “It infringes on private property rights without a doubt. That is the first issue when you get down to the constitutional issue of the matter here.”

Hatter added that “[The law] is not within the landlord/tenant laws. How can I evict somebody when they are in compliance with their lease?”

Often, Harrisburg rental property owners are “mom-and-pop” investors with two to 10 properties in the city, Sullivan said.

Much of the housing stock they buy and rent in Harrisburg is old and takes significant financial and “blood, sweat and tears” investment, he said.

The new law will make it less attractive for those investors to do business in the city going forward because they could easily lose their rental permits through no fault of their own, Sullivan said.

Jason Lucas owns 20 rental properties in Harrisburg and 20 others within 40 minutes of the city.

With council adopting the new law, Lucas said he will not buy another rental property in the city, where it already is hard to attract tenants because of Harrisburg’s debt crisis, crime and poverty rate, poorly performing schools and high utility costs.

“I have so many problems being a landlord in a bankrupt city,” Lucas said. “I can’t believe I have to be responsible for my tenants’ actions and evict people because the government tells me to.

“You only rent to people who live in that neighborhood,” he said. “And if you try to rent to people better than that neighborhood you screw yourself because they will move out after a few months.

“We deal with the pool of people the city attracts,” he said. “They attract the demographics that live there and we have to live with them.”

 

To read more, visit http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2012/11/harrisburg_rental_properties_l.html

TENANT SCREENING MAY HAVE PREVENTED GIRLS’ MURDER

When she moved her daughter into an Edgewater apartment in September 2004, Mary Pat Dorner believed her adult child would be safe: The building was in a good neighborhood; the studio unit was too high up for prowlers to reach; and the management company claimed they screened all tenants.

“It was a beautiful building,” Dorner, 53, recalled Wednesday.

And then on Jan. 24, 2005, another tenant raped, beat and strangled 21-year-old Melissa Dorner in her apartment.

 On Tuesday, a Cook County jury awarded a $10 million verdict to Dorner’s family — most of which they will never collect because Dorner’s killer, Roberto Ramirez, is in prison and is not believed to have any assets.

But the jury decided that a small part of the blame for Dorner’s death lay with the building management company because it did not follow its own policies and procedures in screening tenants and dealing with problem ones, Dorner family attorneys said.  Had the management company followed its own policies and procedures in screening prospective tenants, Ramirez would never have been in the building,” Dorner family attorney Colin Dunn said following the verdict. “Numerous policies were either violated or ignored.”

Among other things, Ramirez gave a false social security number on his rental application, which should have ruled him out as a renter, Dunn said. During the week-long trial, attorneys for the family argued Ramirez assaulted another woman in the building just two months before the slaying. The on-site manager was alerted, but family attorneys argued, the defendants did not follow up.

After the slaying, Ramirez fled to Mexico but authorities extradited him, and he later pleaded guilty to killing the one-time hostess at Maggiano’s Little Italy restaurant.

The family later filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Ramirez, along with the building’s management company and owners.

The jury reached its verdict after deliberating a day and a half. The jury assessed 90 percent liability to Ramirez and 10 percent to the management company, Wilmette Real Estate and Management Co. of Wilmette, and owner BCH Tower of Chicago. Alan Didesch, general counsel for the building’s owner and management company, told the Chicago Sun-Times his clients will appeal the decision.

On Wednesday, Mary Pat Dorner said she is happy the management company’s name is now public, and she hopes the case highlights the need for renters to be very careful in choosing an apartment.

Dorner said life has been a struggle since her daughter’s death. Dorner’s younger daughter, Christine, is getting married in a month, and Melissa would likely have been her maid of honor, the girls’ mother said.

“I’m surviving,” said Dorner, who lost her husband in 2008 to heart failure. “He didn’t recover from Melissa’s murder. … He died of a broken heart. He couldn’t handle the situation.”

To read more, visit http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/11581237-418/10m-verdict-for-family-of-woman-slain-by-neighbor-in-edgewater-apartment.html