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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 118772
Experience:  Attorney with over 24 years experience.
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We rented our house in Austin, TX from a man who has been handling

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We rented our house in Austin, TX from a man who has been handling the property for the owner who lives in NY for at least 10 years. He is on our lease as the "landlord" and no mention of the owner was made to us until recently. Apparently, our "landlord" and the owner's son (who also lived in NY) and the owner were friends in the past. However, the owner's son (who is not even partial owner) has recently shown up in town and he and our "landlord" have had a spat and our "landlord" has told us that he has quit and is no longer tending to the property. Also, the owner's son has forwarded his mail to our address (since mid-May), been coming to the property everyday (since early-June) (hanging around and looking in our windows) and stored some boxes in our garage. When we went out to see who he was, he said, "I own this property". He then told us he would be moving into the garage apt on July 1 when the current tenant moves out. After 10 days of constant harassment from him, we called the police and they told him he was trespassing and gave him a warning not to come back and recommended that he not move into the garage apt until we leave. However, we have no reason to believe that he will follow their advice. Our lease is up on Aug 4. We want to give notice on July 1. We don't know how to get in touch with the owner and the person we have the lease with says he's not involved anymore. We don't want to deal with the owner's son, because we don't have any legal relationship with him. How do we give proper notice? Also, we have permission in our lease from the person we signed it with to "use security deposit as last month's rent" under certain circumstances, one of which is disturbance of our quiet enjoyment. Even with the last month's rent and prorated 4 days of rent in August, we would still be due some deposit money returned. We want to act in good faith and make sure we follow the law. What do we do in this situation? Can we use our security deposit? Who will return the remainder? Who do we give notice to? Do we even have to give notice -- if there's no mention in our lease?
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you and than you for asking for me.

If your contract is with your property manager, you need to send him written notice and inform him to either provide you the address of the real owner or you will sue him for breach of contract since his name is XXXXX XXXXX lease and you will seek damages from him for allowing the son to interfere with your peaceable use and enjoyment of your property as your lease guarantees. If the property manager is smart he will give you the address of the landlord for you to send a copy of your notice to and if he does not give the manager the copy of the notice and tell him you are suing him for breach of your lease.

The botXXXXX XXXXXne is regardless of what the property manager now claims, his name is XXXXX XXXXX lease and that makes HIM liable to you and thus he is liable to you for any breach of the lease. Thus, even if he does give you the name of the owner, you need to give both the manager AND the owner a copy of your notice.

If he refuses to cooperate with you, then you have grounds right now to sue him for breach of lease and refund of your deposit as well as any costs incurred in having to move early because of the breach of the lease based on the conduct of the owner's son.

If you have a security deposit, I would also suggest not paying the last month and telling the property manager (again that is who your contract is with, regardless of what he now claims) that you are applying your deposit to your last month's rent. If the owner tries to sue, the court will have to dismiss because the owner did not have any contractual relation with you and there was no disclosure the manager was only his agent, so you reasonably relied on the fact the manager was indeed the landlord.

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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX really helpful. I don't want to sue the property manager. But I would like to confirm that my only obligation is to him and him only - that is, the owner or her son cannot really do anything to us? I know that the property manager will not mind us using the security deposit as he was the one who signed the agreement in the first place and we are on good terms with him -- he is also having trouble with the owner's son. My fear is that the son will show up here after July 1 trying to get us to pay rent to him and saying that he is the property manager now. Am I clear in thinking that he cannot do this? I want to be prepared. He already threatened to sue us when I called the police on him (though, obviously that was not a realistic threat - e.g. I know he can't sue us for that) -- I just feel that he's vengeful. Do we have any legal obligation to deal with the son at all?

Thank you for your response.

Yes, if the manager's name is XXXXX XXXXX lease and there is no mention of any other owner as you said, then your only obligation and contract is with the property manager. I know you do not want to sue him, but if he refuses to cooperate you have no choice.

The owner or his son cannot do anything because their names do not appear on the lease as landlord or owner and this would be grounds to dismiss any action they try to take.

The son has no rights, his name is XXXXX XXXXX your lease and he is not even the legal owner of the property. He can try to sue, but without his name being on the lease it would be dismissed based on lack of privity of contract. You have no obligation to deal with the son.
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