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Never trust a landlord who is also a lawyer

Old 08-15-14, 11:49 AM
  #1  
pgjackson
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Never trust a landlord who is also a lawyer

I learned a valuable lesson this week: never trust a landlord who is also a lawyer. About 6 months ago I called my LL on the phone to see if it would be a problem to get out of our lease a couple of months early. We had always had a friendly, informal relationship and I wanted to talk to him personally. Anyway, he said no problem and only asked that I agree to show the house because he was going to go ahead and try to sell it. Of course, I agreed. I informed him later on the phone of the exact date of our departure...again he simply said thanks. On the day or our move he texted me and said "how's the move going? You guys excited about the new house?" Totally nice and understanding.

10 days later he sends me a document stating that we are in default on the lease. The switch has been flipped. He is now no longer the friendly guy, he's now the cold-blooded, ruthless, a-hole lawyer. He no longer remembers our previous conversation where he verbally agreed to let us out of the lease early. I go to my own lawyer and he says...yep, this guy is a d1ck, but he has you. Nothing was put in writing. I ended up having to pay out the remainer of the lease. That's what you get for being nice and trusting people.

Lesson learned. Get everything in writing. By the way, I am reporting him to the Florida State Bar. He's already been publicly reprimanded for unethical conduct and they have a hotline you can call to report stuff like this.

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Old 08-15-14, 12:08 PM
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Old 08-15-14, 12:20 PM
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Any contract regarding real estate must be written to be enforceable. It certainly sounds like this guy is a bit of an asshole, but I am not sure on what grounds you would report him to the Bar. Quite frankly, It seems more of a result of your naivete in dealing with leases that is the issue, whether your landlord was a lawyer or not.
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Old 08-15-14, 01:04 PM
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small claims court. a verbal agreement accounts for something. they are easy to file. you are likely to get him to agree to 1/2. play the game
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Old 08-15-14, 01:08 PM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
small claims court. a verbal agreement accounts for something. they are easy to file. you are likely to get him to agree to 1/2. play the game
Most leases I have signed stipulate that a written notice must be given.

In our high tech computer world does email count as written notice? I always bcc myself on emails to my landlord, and my email automatically files my sent emails which i file monthly.
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Old 08-15-14, 01:10 PM
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To be honest, I don't think this is a lawyer thing as much as it is a landlord thing. A very similar thing happened with my mother in law. The landlord agreed to let her out early, but then when she couldn't find a new tenant, suddenly changed her story and acted like she never said that. In the end she found a tenant and there was no problem. Landlords will play this game because they don't want someone trashing the place. But if they end up with a vacant apt then they will come after you.
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Old 08-15-14, 01:33 PM
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Yes, it's a landlord issue...I only brought up the lawyer part because he threw the book at me after I vacated the house. He was all nice and friendly literally up until the day we turned in the keys...then it was "where's my rent? You never formally informed me you were leaving." He knew months in advance we were leaving and never mentioned that he expected to be paid for the last couple months.

I am going to report him to the Bar because he is still under some sort of formal reprimand status and we did have a verbal agreement. Probably won't go anywhere, but he's well-known locally as a real sleeze-bag and I just want to see if I have any options.
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Old 08-15-14, 02:15 PM
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Whenever you make a verbal agreement with anyone (including modifying an existing contract like a lease) make sure you follow the conversation up in writing (email, letter, etc, with details) so both parties understand what they agreed to. I do it all the time and it keeps things from getting leagally messy.
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Old 08-15-14, 02:26 PM
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Originally Posted by skidder View Post
Whenever you make a verbal agreement with anyone (including modifying an existing contract like a lease) make sure you follow the conversation up in writing (email, letter, etc, with details) so both parties understand what they agreed to. I do it all the time and it keeps things from getting leagally messy.
Yep. That's what I get for being a nice guy. He seemed honest enough. Heck, he even invited us over to his house once. He and his wife were perfectly pleasant. My thought was that it would seem insulting if I said "can we get this in writing?"

Doing a google search on this guy, he is a bad person. Has quite a rap sheet.
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Old 08-15-14, 03:02 PM
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PGJ, are you a member of our military?
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Originally Posted by colorider View Post
Phobias are for irrational fears. Fear of junk ripping badgers is perfectly rational. Those things are nasty.
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Old 08-15-14, 03:10 PM
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Originally Posted by jsharr View Post
PGJ, are you a member of our military?
Yes. Retired. I contacted the local military legal office and they said they weren't seeing retirees at the moment. Saw a lawyer out in town, who happened to be retired military also. He was sympathetic but said we were screwed.

I have never been betrayed like this before. I feel idiotic. I don't want to be vindictive, but I also don't want him to be able to do this to anyone else. I am going to go to the base housing office and see about getting him blacklisted just in case he tries to list one of his rentals on base.
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Old 08-15-14, 03:39 PM
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Talk to your lawyer first before going to the base housing office. As big a jerk as he is, he might claim you are slandering him.
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Old 08-15-14, 03:49 PM
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Originally Posted by pgjackson View Post
Yes. Retired. I contacted the local military legal office and they said they weren't seeing retirees at the moment. Saw a lawyer out in town, who happened to be retired military also. He was sympathetic but said we were screwed.

I have never been betrayed like this before. I feel idiotic. I don't want to be vindictive, but I also don't want him to be able to do this to anyone else. I am going to go to the base housing office and see about getting him blacklisted just in case he tries to list one of his rentals on base.
The fact that this bottom dwelling scum would do this to someone who had laid it all on the line to protect his right to live in freedom makes my blood boil. You should contact the local news, one of those "On your side" type reporters who at the least can get this guys name out in public so that everyone knows to avoid him.
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Originally Posted by colorider View Post
Phobias are for irrational fears. Fear of junk ripping badgers is perfectly rational. Those things are nasty.
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Old 08-15-14, 04:30 PM
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Originally Posted by jsharr View Post
The fact that this bottom dwelling scum would do this to someone who had laid it all on the line to protect his right to live in freedom makes my blood boil. You should contact the local news, one of those "On your side" type reporters who at the least can get this guys name out in public so that everyone knows to avoid him.
I am seriously thinking about it. The local paper is very pro-military. Hell, half of Pensacola is either active duty or retired military.
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Old 08-15-14, 06:37 PM
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Originally Posted by pgjackson View Post
then it was "where's my rent? You never formally informed me you were leaving." He knew months in advance we were leaving
If there are no witnesses it will be a "he said - she said" stalemate. If the facts are as stated in the first post, you have proof via his text that he knew you were leaving. Of course he could also claim that you had some agreement to pay for the remaining part of the lease and then you are back to the "he said - she said" stalemate.

If you are dealing with a lawyer, you know that everything they say is a lie... "how can you tell if a lawyer is lieing? his lips are moving" And of course when you are dealing with a lawyer keep in mind that 95% of lawyers give the other 5% a bad reputation.
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Old 08-15-14, 07:07 PM
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We are currently preparing to move to a new home and the lease here will be terminated about a month early. I have a paper trail through emails of my conversations with the landlord. There also is a nifty little clause in the lease that states the landlord has to make every reasonable effort to find a tenant for the intervening period. Jacking the rent up $15 a week, and advertising the property in a very poor way doesn't constitute every effort, in my book. And there is an additional part to the clause -- if there is a disagreement on this, we can have it decided by a magistrate.

PG, your biggest problem is lack of written confirmation of the arrangements. The landlord took you for a sucker. It happens to all of us.
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Old 08-16-14, 04:06 PM
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Originally Posted by bjtesch View Post
If there are no witnesses it will be a "he said - she said" stalemate. If the facts are as stated in the first post, you have proof via his text that he knew you were leaving. Of course he could also claim that you had some agreement to pay for the remaining part of the lease and then you are back to the "he said - she said" stalemate.

If you are dealing with a lawyer, you know that everything they say is a lie... "how can you tell if a lawyer is lieing? his lips are moving" And of course when you are dealing with a lawyer keep in mind that 95% of lawyers give the other 5% a bad reputation.
He's saying I never officially notified him via certified mail that we were leaving. He's pulling out all the technical stuff from the lease. One day he will get his dues. He will be held accountable either in this world or the next.
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Old 08-16-14, 04:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
We are currently preparing to move to a new home and the lease here will be terminated about a month early. I have a paper trail through emails of my conversations with the landlord. There also is a nifty little clause in the lease that states the landlord has to make every reasonable effort to find a tenant for the intervening period. Jacking the rent up $15 a week, and advertising the property in a very poor way doesn't constitute every effort, in my book. And there is an additional part to the clause -- if there is a disagreement on this, we can have it decided by a magistrate.

PG, your biggest problem is lack of written confirmation of the arrangements. The landlord took you for a sucker. It happens to all of us.
Yep, he totally suckered me. He was such a nice and friendly guy up until he knew we were out and the keys were turned in. Everything was informal, then it was suddenly "pay up are I'm taking you to court.". His property manager said we were the best tennants he's ever had. By the way, the property manager, when we told him what was happening, called my LL and terminated his association with him. Said he could no longer work with a man like that. They were long time associates. The PM was awesome.
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Old 08-16-14, 04:28 PM
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Originally Posted by pgjackson View Post
Yep, he totally suckered me. He was such a nice and friendly guy up until he knew we were out and the keys were turned in. Everything was informal, then it was suddenly "pay up are I'm taking you to court.". His property manager said we were the best tennants he's ever had. By the way, the property manager, when we told him what was happening, called my LL and terminated his association with him. Said he could no longer work with a man like that. They were long time associates. The PM was awesome.
It sounds like from his side he was trying to create a verbal/paper trail of your commitment to breaking your lease and didn't want to risk letting you know he planned to hold you to that lease. Very weasely.
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Old 08-16-14, 05:00 PM
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My wife and I learned first hand about lawyers also being landlords as well, when it came to taking care of my father in-laws finances. I mentioned to the landlord that one of the staircases leading out of my father in-laws apartment was in need of serious repair, the landlord's fix was in the form of blocking off the staircase all together. When I pointed out to the landlord that the blocked staircase was a danger in case the adjacent apartment caught on fire, my father in-law had no means of escape other than jumping from two stories up, we were then greeted with a 60 day eviction notice that the building was being sold.

My father in-law had lived at this residence for 20 years, after moving out, we had a preview walk through of our cleaning the apartment, and were told that it was satisfactory, only to have a 20 percent deduction from the cleaning deposit later on for not cleaning the apartment thoroughly enough. My wife and I did not contest the 20 percent deduction since we just wanted to get away from this particular landlord at the time.
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Old 08-16-14, 05:37 PM
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I'd try to keep an eye on the property, and see if he installs a new tenant in there before your lease officially expires. If he doesn't inform you of that, if a new tenant does live there, and doesn't end the rental payments you make, there should be legal questions on the double dipping.
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Old 08-16-14, 06:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
I'd try to keep an eye on the property, and see if he installs a new tenant in there before your lease officially expires. If he doesn't inform you of that, if a new tenant does live there, and doesn't end the rental payments you make, there should be legal questions on the double dipping.
Yes, that's something to look out for, if you did pay for it it is yours.
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Old 08-18-14, 03:22 AM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
I wouldn't want my Cadaver brought to Florida ..
this...
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Old 08-18-14, 06:28 AM
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I think your landlord knew exactly what he was doing.
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Old 08-18-14, 07:32 AM
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Never trust a lawyer.
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