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barristerinky
barristerinky, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 33798
Experience:  Attorney for over 15 years, landlord 26 years
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I have a rental home in MN, currently rented by a blissfully

Customer Question

I have a rental home in MN, currently rented by a blissfully ignorant 22 yr old man. I've had a rather open, frank, and civil relationship until a few days ago. I use a property management company, who honestly has been rather slack; I've had repair issues with them, sneakiness in renewing contracts, the latest issue was they let a new tenant sign on to the lease without a background check, and now are denying knowledge of said new additional tenant. The house needs maintenance on the furnace, there is some erosion on a furnace flue connection. The tenant 1st notified myself, the didn't appear to need emergency attention. I scheduled the maintenance, but the 1st available appointment is on 11/21, 22 days from the original request. Tenant had an emotional meltdown yesterday to me, after referring to an online HVAC blog. I tried to re-assure him that the issue currently is not emergent, it will be dealt with appropriately, and please update if it needs emergent attention (CO alarms going off, furnace non-functional, etc) Anyways, my property management company told my tenant and myself to stop communicating, they want all communication to go through the management company. The management company apparently talked the renter down from constructive eviction (for a minor issue) even though the renter didn't want to sign a full year lease originally. I am finally at a place where I can sell the home and not be under water, I like the tenant (even if he is sending me semi-legitimate complaints) and I feel the property management company is holding us to mutually undesirable commitments now. (I want to sell and am able to, he originally did not want a full year lease until 6/17) The property management company has asked that I don't communicate with the tenant in fear of legal consequence. I'm happy to allow the renter out of the lease without repercussion if he likes, but now I'm sure he is afraid to speak to me because of the property management company. My only goal: keep the house in good condition until I can afford to sell (check) make sure my tenants are happy and not destroying the place (check)e
JA: Because laws vary from place to place, can you tell me what state the property is in?
Customer: Minnesota.
JA: What are the terms of the lease? Any issues related to maintenance or upkeep?
Customer: reasonable terms. tenant causes it, tenant pays for it. maintenance and general upkeep, owner pays for it.
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: I am more concerned that I had a relatively civil relationship with the tenant. both tenant and owner were open to negotiable terms before property management came in. I am concerned that property management wants to lengthen terms against both parties wishes. as is the signed contract. both owner and renter will oblige by said contract, but none is sated.
Submitted: 1 month ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  barristerinky replied 1 month ago.

Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I am a licensed attorney who will try my very best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can. There may be a slight delay in my responses as I research statutes or ordinances and type out an answer or reply, but rest assured, I am working on your question.

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Thank you that back information, but I don't see what your legal question is that I can help with tonight?

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
It appears that my property management company is coercing my tenant into a full year lease, and they are telling both my tenant and myself not to speak to each other. At this point, after lease is signed, how can I legally get out of a lease (as a property owner) that is bad for both the renter and myself. How can I position myself, as an owner, knowing that this lease is not what the renter originally wanted, as something he can legally get out of if he likes, without sounding like I'm the ass.
Customer: replied 1 month ago.
I have a phone appt with my property management company tomorrow to address my concerns. At this point I feel sorry for my renter, but I am angry with my property management.
Expert:  barristerinky replied 1 month ago.

Ok, lets be very clear...you don't work for the management company, they work for you. So they have zero rights to tell you who you can and can't talk to. If you want to talk to the tenant, then you are free to do so. And if you want to be available for tenant to call you, you can do that as well.

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And since the management company is your agent, not the owner, you as the owner can agree with the tenant to change the terms of the lease if you both agree. The manager is just the middle man who serves as a buffer between you and the tenant.

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With that said...again, the management company works for you. So if you want to offer the tenant a 3 month or 6 month, or 12 month tenancy, that is up to you and you can just tell the tenant that he doesn't have to sign anything other than what you and he personally agree on.

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Sometimes these management companies get a little overbearing and need to be put back in their place so they realize that they are employees, not owners, so they don't call the shots.

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As an aside, in addition to being an attorney, I have also been a landlord for over 26 years...

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
As a landlord, can I make changes to original leases through the property management group without additional charges?
Expert:  barristerinky replied 1 month ago.

That I can't answer because I have no idea what your contract with the property manager says.. It is a legally binding contract that you entered into, so if it restricts you in certain ways, that is enforceable. But if they get paid based on the length of the contract, if you shortened it, then you would likely still be on the hook for their fees..

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Any good resources I can provide to the tenant since he is so new to renting? I'd love to win back his trust. I need him to know that we are in this together, and that the property management company is just there for our mutual protection.As far as I know, I don't have a binding contract with the property management company. They charge 5% rent monthly to 'manage'. They advertise and provide legal contracts for new renters. They charge between $150 and $250 for an agent to be present during city inspections. They have a maintenance company that charges $200 minimum to enter a property, and that maintenance company has charged me double what their estimate was for, for replacing an interior door. It is cheaper for me to take a week off work as a nurse, fly from CO to MN, and paint a small house myself than pay their repair and maintenance fees. My only concern is keeping my renter happy and keeping the property in shape to sell when I and above water.
Expert:  barristerinky replied 1 month ago.

Honestly, I never get really friendly with my tenants as I tell them that this is a business relationship, so I wouldn't have anything good to refer you to..

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And I have to agree with you... I have done all my own maintenance for 26 years as you can't afford to pay people to do shoddy work. And I like to keep an eye on my rentals because absentee landlords are the ones who always lose money on rentals as they get taken advantage of by everyone.

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So if it were me, I would direct the tenant to call me with any problems, as I do now, and then I will make the executive decision as to whether something is an emergency, or whether it can wait, and then who I want to do the work, me or someone else..

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thanks

Barrister

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