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Barrister
Barrister, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 38169
Experience:  16 years real estate, Realtor. Landlord 26 years
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We contacted you in the past regarding a NJ house we

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We contacted you in the past regarding a NJ house we currently rent, and were very impressed. Our question - in brief - is whether you would be willing to review our lease, and a modification to it.The property owners had failed to sell the house during the past two summers. Their property manager assured us verbally they would not attempt to do so again during the term of the lease, however, nothing about this was in the lease itself.They put it on the market in April, which severely affected our quiet enjoyment of the property. It is now under contract, the prospective owners would like us to move out early, and we came to an agreement in principle with the current owners to do this.We do not trust the current owners... at all.Their attorney drew up a lease modification agreement. We do not trust the owners at all, and are concerned that we might not recognize language in it that might put us at risk for:
- substantial additional disruption of our quiet enjoyment of the house and move out (and, in particular, the language around the owner "coordinating" any work at the house required for the sale)
- potential financial losses
- other potential problemsWith this in mind, would you be willing to review the lease and their proposed modification agreement, and give us your opinion?We recognize that there would be a fee for doing so.ThanksSteve

Hello again and thanks for requesting me..

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If you have specific questions about your lease, if you can upload it, then I can take a look and answer any questions.

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But if you wanted a comprehensive review of the entire lease for any red flags and comment, that is available under the "Premium Services" option for an additional charge. If you would like, I can send out an offer for that.

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So I can do just questions here if that would work for you or I can send an offer for the full review and comment, whichever you prefer..

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Please send an offer for a comprehensive review.Thanks!
Steve
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Here are copies of my lease, and the proposed modification agreement.
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Here are the relevant documents

Sorry for the delay, just got back in office. Sent out proposed offer..

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Did the payment come through?

Hello again, I don't see it reflected that the proposed offer has been accepted...

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I have never been on your side of the computer, so I honestly don't know how you go about doing so..

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thanks

Barrister

Barrister and 2 other Real Estate Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
I will try again

Hello again,

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Looks like it went through and I am just back in my office for a second to check emails. I will be back in in just about 2 hours so I will then sit down and thoroughly review the lease and addendum and then comment back to you on any red flags..

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thanks

Barrister

Ok, I have reviewed the lease and the proposed settlement and it looks like the terms are..

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You pay any past due rent, they waive late fees, they waive June and July rent as an incentive to get you to agree to terminate early.

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As long as there are no damages after the inspection on July 1, they will refund your entire deposit, even though you are still living there until the end of July..

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And that is about it...

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I don't see any sneaky legalease that is intended to deceive you here as the settlement seems pretty straightforward...

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As long as you don't mind letting the buyer come over for any inspections, which should be home inspection, termite inspection and maybe one or two other walk throughs that the buyer wants to do before closing, I don't see this as being a bad deal for you as it gives you basically 2 free months and a refund of your security deposit in order to find a new place.

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Even if it cost a few thousand to have movers move you, you are still ahead here as long as you can find a comparable dwelling.

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With all that said, they likely are expecting you to counter... that is the way these negotiations go. So even if I was ok with the current terms, I might push the envelope a bit more and ask them to waive the remainder of April rent with you agreeing to pay May.

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I would also want to try to get them to agree that they wouldn't still be showing the property to prospective back up purchasers and that they would change any status on the MLS to "pending" so as to discourage others from coming to see the property.

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Sometimes a realtor will want to "keep fishing" even though they have a buyer on the line, so I might negotiate for that as well so you aren't disturbed any more than is necessary with the buyer's inspections.

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There is one very unusual and very powerful clause in the lease that is in your favor and gives you a lot of negotiating power.. That is 10 Renewal lease which states that the landlord HAS to offer you a renewal under "reasonable " terms... So you have a right to a guaranteed renewal for another year...which would keep the buyer out of the house for another full year after the current lease expires and could make them want to walk away if they weren't aware of this. They might not want to wait a year and 3 months before they could take occupancy..

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I don't see these very often as the landlord presumably drafted the lease and that clause definitely is not in his best interest.

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Let me know if you have any questions..

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Thanks for the great analysis!A couple of points for clarification:
1. The agreement is for a 7/8 move out (vs 7/31).
Pro-rated on a daily basis ($115.07/day), it translates as a break of $4,372 vs. $7,019
The accrued late fees to be forgiven amount to roughly $500
Total discount is actually roughly $4,900 vs. $7,500Does that still seem like a good deal for us?2. Regarding:
As long as you don't mind letting the buyer come over for any inspections, etc.This is a point of major concern. A previous landlord put the house we were renting on the market several months before we moved out... and it was like the circus came to town.Prospective buyers, contractors, workmen, realtors… there was all kinds of traffic through the place. It was extremely disruptive... including during our actual move out preparationsSo, before we signed the current lease, we asked the property manager (a realtor, but not the selling agent) whether the owners planned to put it on the market during the term of the lease. He said "No". Unfortunately, that was not written into the lease, and 7 months later, the house was on the market.
ny
In my opinion, we were deceived, and the property manager has confidentially told me that he also felt misled by the owners.We have once again endured a "circus" during the past 2 months... only - in my opinion - this owner was personally aggressive regarding his demands that people be able to come through the house with 24 hours advance notice on any day, for as many days, as frequently, as he deemed fit.He backed off a little when he discovered that all kinds of inconvenient – but reasonable - things can interfere with showings. We eventually came to an agreement... but it was not quick or easy.That is why we have a major concern around the language in I. (g):
Landlord shall contact Tenants in advance should Landlord REQUIRE reasonable access to the property for inspection and/or RELATED TO THE POTENTIAL SALE OF THE PROPERTY and will COORDINATE the date and time of any such access with the Tenants.We understand that inspections and an appraisal, etc, are standard aspects of home sales ....It’s time lost for us… but fair enough.But the owner verbally expressed activities "related to the potential sale of the property" to me as the potential for workmen to be on the premises for any repairs that he might agree to as part of the sale. We have no idea what those things might be, how frequently they might need to be here, or how much time they would intend to spend here.The agreement includes no limits, and only states that he will "coordinate the date and time of any such access with the tenants."a. The key question is:
Do you interpret the term "coordinate" to be synonymous with two parties making arrangements solely through mutual agreement?Or could it be interpreted to mean that we WILL comply with any repair work (at his sole discretion) with only coordination (not mutual agreement) on the dates and times it might occur.b. We lost a substantial amount of the quiet use and enjoyment of our home during the past two months. The owner surprisingly scheduled 3 inspections/tests for Wednesday afternoon, ostensibly to limit the number of intrusions. As a gesture of appreciation, I am taking that afternoon off to be here.But… a workman the owner hired to replace some shower stall glass has failed to do so during 3 previous visits … he wants to schedule a 4th visit. The appraisal has yet to be scheduled, and this brings me to my second question:At what point may we draw the line and demand:
"Enough... no more intrusions ... If you want repair work done here, you have a choice: Either do the work after we move out, or if it must be done before escrow can close, compensate me on a pro-rated basis according to my salary ($100/hour) for each hour workmen are here for ancillary activities.”We have 5 weeks left here, and need to pack, find a new place, etc. It seems reasonable to cap disruptive activity.How would you phrase a clause to expressing that idea?3. In 22.6, our lease states "Owner will provide open and closing services of pool from approximately the end of May through the first week of September, if tenant so desires. Tenant will provide regular pool chemical treatment and cleaning through a pool company deemed acceptable by Landlord."Given the owner's history, we are inclined to wait until after the written agreement has been fully executed before asking that the pool be made ready for use. Naturally, if he drags his feet for very long at all, it won't make much difference for us.Would you be willing to write a clause to the effect that we will be compensated (perhaps $500?) if the time between our request, and its fulfillment, exceeds a week?We understand that an additional fee may be required.

Ok, I thought that they were giving you the full month of July to move out and free rent.. That makes the deal worse and makes me want to counter with asking for more based on your bargaining position of being able to demand a renewal lease if you want to under the contract.. That is huge..

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Do you interpret the term "coordinate" to be synonymous with two parties making arrangements solely through mutual agreement?
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Yes, this is not a unilateral right of the landlord to come and go as he pleases and have his people there... You are the only one who has the legal right to possession right now through your lease and the rights to "quiet enjoyment" and "sole use and possession" that are inherent in every lease.

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So you can always dig in and tell the landlord that if he doesn't work around your schedule, you will call the police every time someone shows up without a prior agreement, show the police the lease, and have them make the other party leave.

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That puts a huge damper on any sale, inspection, work, etc. and it entirely within your legal rights to do..

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At what point may we draw the line and demand:
"Enough... no more intrusions ... If you want repair work done here, you have a choice: Either do the work after we move out, or if it must be done before escrow can close, compensate me on a pro-rated basis according to my salary ($100/hour) for each hour workmen are here for ancillary activities.”

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You posted this and I read this after I kind of answered it above. There is no statue in NJ law that gives a landlord the right of entry to a property unless there is an emergency. Common law says that a tenant should allow "reasonable" access if the landlord provides "reasonable" notice, generally considered 24 hours notice...

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But what is "reasonable"? That is like saying what is big?..... your definition may be different than mine which may be different than the landlord which may be different..... and so on.. So only you can decide what is reasonable and when to draw a line in the sand and say "Enough, any more than X number of intrusions a week or a month, and I call the police every time".

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Again, that slams the door shut on things and puts the landlord in a very tough position if the police are being called on workers, realtors, buyers and they are forced to leave because you are the only one with rights to possession.

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Would you be willing to write a clause to the effect that we will be compensated (perhaps $500?) if the time between our request, and its fulfillment, exceeds a week?

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Why not just put that back in any counter to their offer? Just simply say that "Finally, in accordance with Clause XX in our current lease agreement, we would formally request that the pool be opened immediately as agreed in the contract. In the event that this is impractical or Bob should choose not to do so, we would agree to accept liquidated damages in the amount of $500.00 if the pool is not open and usable by us by June XX (whatever day you decide)"

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thanks

Barrister