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Ask Olivia Kent Your Own Question
Olivia Kent
Olivia Kent, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 871
Experience:  Partner at Kent Law Group, LLC
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Thank you. I am the landlord in this case. I rented a

Customer Question

Hi, and thank you. I am the landlord in this case. I rented a bedroom to a lady. Her boyfriend pulled a knife on her. He want's his rent money back that he paid in advance. I don't know if I'm entitled to it based on his disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace (arguing alarmning the neighbors).
JA: Because laws vary from place to place, can you tell me what state the property is in?
Customer: NJ
JA: Have you talked to a lawyer yet?
Customer: No, I have not. The amount in question is less than 5K.
JA: Anything else you think the lawyer should know?
Customer: Well the situation is unique because the "boyfriend" is the one who rented the room for his "girlfriend", as he was still living with his legal "wife".
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  Olivia Kent replied 1 year ago.

Hello. My name is ***** ***** I'm an attorney. I'll be happy to help you.

Expert:  Olivia Kent replied 1 year ago.

This site is for educational purposes only. Sometimes - although certainly not always - experts have to give you what you deem “bad news” but that should not be a reflection of how satisfied you are with the assistance your expert provided. My goal is to make sure you are completely satisfied before you submit your rating so please let me know if you have additional questions or you need me to clarify anything If there is a delay in the time it takes me to respond it is because I am working with a customer or I am not online - but rest assured I will respond to your follow up question, if you have one. Also, occasionally I will respond from a mobile JA unit, which automatically asks you to submit a rating once I submit a response - but please don't feel like you need to do so until we are done speaking.

Expert:  Olivia Kent replied 1 year ago.

I'm a little confused as to *why* he wants his money back... on what basis, that is?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Initially, the boyfriend paid 2 months in advance. His premise was that he wanted his affairs in order because that's how he runs his life. I asked him did he anticipate getting this money back at some point, if so, I would put it in an interest bearing account. He said no, he was going to live it out when he finally found a house to purchase for him and his girlfriend. Unfortunately, his wife found out he was cheating and kicked him out of their marital home sooner than he expected. His then girlfriend got upset because he was still communicating with the wife after he got kicked out. He asked me could he move in due to his circumstance. He was here 2 nights and the argued most of the time (nothing out of control...everyone argues..was not an issue). The issue was that I left to go out and was called on my cell by the girlfriend stating that I need to turn back because he pulled a knife on her and he is causing a disturbance which was affecting my neighbors she said. When I arrived his shirt was pulled and torn and his suitcase was in his backseat and she is standing in the doorway with her pocket book. He's upstairs with his bag. He was leaving, he asked me for his money back that he paid in advance right on the spot. He wanted me to write a check. At that point I was unsure what I should do or was entitled to do because he expressed to me that the money he paid upfront was to be lived out in its entirety never expecting to get it back. Now due to his circumstance with his relationships, he wants his money back. His girlfriend wanted to leave and go back to Florida where she came from even though she was welcomed to stay since she was paid for already. He could not be here based on the terrostic threats and disturbing the peace. My question is, is he entitled to get his money back?
Expert:  Olivia Kent replied 1 year ago.

Do you have anything in writing that addresses your arrangement with him?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Nothing formal in writing re: the arrangement directly with him specifically. Only the online ad that I had posted in which he responded to. I gave him receipts for the money he paid me, that's it. The ad stated no drama, drinking, drugs, overnight guests specifically and the terms of the room rental. That's it. He stated that he was only going to pass through from time to time because he has a family elsewhere and was fine with the accommodations so much so that he wanted to secure it by paying the rent in advance.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
He and I didn't have any conflicts business wise, at all. It was only until his personal life blew up that he asked for all his money back so he could skip town.
Expert:  Olivia Kent replied 1 year ago.

I think you can probably make out a very good argument that he is NOT entitled to his money back because now it will take you take to re-rent the property. However, if you are able to rent the property, at that point I would return as much of the funds as he would be eligible to get back. Meaning... you need to show that you tried to mitigate your damages by re-renting the property if you want to be able to credibly argue that he is not entitled to his money back.

Expert:  Olivia Kent replied 1 year ago.

Does that make sense?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Right, and that was my quandry. That I had to start the process all over again without any advance notice. I just didn't know if that was a valid justification of not giving the money back. That happened the end of May (Memorial Day), so the room has been vacant since then...about a month and a half...almost 2 whole months now.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
He has actually filed a motion in small claims court against me to get his money back. So wanted to ensure I was at least on the right path re: my defense.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I will comply with whatever the ruling is, no problem. Again, wanted to ensure I had a defense in my part in all of this.
Expert:  Olivia Kent replied 1 year ago.

If you've been trying to re-rent the property you have a valid argument that the you're entitled to your money. Again, mitigation is very important in cases like these. Can I help you with anything else? :)

Expert:  Olivia Kent replied 1 year ago.

You could also argue hardship - meaning, that you relied on this money, etc.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
No, that's it. Thank you so very much Attorney Kent! You've been great! Will be sure to give you a good rating.
Expert:  Olivia Kent replied 1 year ago.

My pleasure :) And, for future reference, if you ever need anything, you can always reach me directly by putting "FOR OLIVIA" in the first line of your request and as long as I am online it will be routed to me :)