DEAR BOB: You often suggest readers consult a local real estate attorney. What is the best way to find an excellent real estate lawyer? – Gerri M.

DEAR GERRI: The easiest source is to phone your local association of Realtors. Ask for the name of its attorney. He or she is usually a superb real estate attorney in the community. If that person is too busy, ask for a referral to another excellent local real state attorney.

Purchase Bob Bruss reports online.

Still another resource is to phone the local community college and ask for the name of its real estate law instructor. He or she is usually a highly qualified local real estate attorney.

Yet another resource is to phone the local Bar Association and ask for the name of its Real Estate Section attorney. That individual is usually a well-respected real estate attorney chosen by his or her peers. If that person is too busy to handle your case, ask for a referral to another outstanding local real estate attorney.

TENANT SHOULD NOT BE ASKED TO BUY A REFRIGERATOR

DEAR BOB: Several months ago, one my tenants told me his refrigerator wasn’t working correctly. I asked for time to buy a replacement, and then told him to go to a large store nearby to buy one. But I did not keep copies of our e-mail exchange. Last week he told me, via e-mail, that the refrigerator quit and he went out to buy a replacement. He sent me a bill for the new refrigerator, his spoiled food, and his time at $50 per hour. Other than put out a contract on him (that is a joke!), I’m not sure how to deal with this. He should have phoned me, but he did not. Now he is threatening to withhold next month’s rent unless I pay him what he asks. Please advise – Frances F.

DEAR FRANCES: You’re shouldn’t have asked your tenant to shop for a refrigerator. That’s your job as a landlord.

If I were in your situation, I would politely ask him to send you the bill for the refrigerator he purchased so you can send him a reimbursement check. With your check, remind him there was no agreement to pay him for any additional expense and you expect the full rent to be paid on time on the first of next month. As a goodwill gesture, you might offer to pay for the spoiled food.

If the tenant deducts from his rent payment the $50 per hour for his time, don’t cash that rent check but promptly serve him with a notice to pay rent or move. This is the first step to begin the unlawful detainer eviction procedure.

At that point, your tenant will realize you mean business and he must pay the full rent or risk eviction. For more details ask a local attorney who specializes in evictions.

BIG DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MOBILE HOMES AND MANUFACTURED HOMES

DEAR BOB: I plan to sell my freestanding condominium villa and am considering the purchase of a new manufactured house with a double-attached garage. Do these homes appreciate like traditional houses, or do they depreciate like mobile homes? – Marlene P.

DEAR MARLENE: A manufactured home, located on separate lot that you own, should appreciate in market value just like a “stick-built house. Today’s home manufacturers do a beautiful job of building homes in factories to Housing and Urban Development (HUD) standards. Then they truck the segments to the site for installation on a concrete foundation. I’ve inspected many manufactured houses and, unless you knew they were built in a factory, you would think they are built on-site.

However, please don’t confuse manufactured homes on separate deeded lots where you own the land with mobile homes on non-owned rental lots. Mobile homes on leased lots usually don’t appreciate as well as manufactured homes with foundations on separate deeded lots.

The new Robert Bruss special report, “How to Avoid Buying or Selling a Bad ‘Lemon’ House,” is now available for $5 from Robert Bruss, 251 Park Road, Burlingame, CA 94010 or by credit card at 1-800-736-1736 or instant Internet PDF download at www.bobbruss.com. Questions for this column are welcome at either address.

(For more information on Bob Bruss publications, visit his
Real Estate Center
).

***

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