DEAR BOB: I own a single-family rental house, which I once occupied, but have rented it to tenants since 1994. Because we now live three hours away from the house, we use a professional property management firm. After many years of good relationships with the tenants, we now have a tenant who is routinely having plumbers in to unclog drains, repair disposals, check for gas smells (none found), and other costs of about $600 per month. The management company “hopes” the tenants will get better. As a retiree, I am very concerned about these high monthly expenses and the reluctance of the so-called management company to handle the situation seriously. I want to keep the house. What advice do you have? –Heather H.
DEAR HEATHER: It sounds like you have a bad professional management company. As the landlord, you should not be paying to unclog drains and for other plumbing problems unless the pipes are in bad condition or if tree roots clog the sewer to the street.
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Nor should you be paying to repair a disposal unless it is defective. Replacement is usually much cheaper if the disposal is old and worn out.
Your management company should notify the tenant that you will not pay for any further plumbing or other repair bills unless the cause is found to be your responsibility, such as defective pipes.
JOINT TENANT CAN SEVER JOINT TENANCY WITHOUT PERMISSION
DEAR BOB: Can a joint tenant file a quitclaim deed to sever a joint tenancy without the consent of the other joint tenants? The individual doing this will be able to pass his share by his will to another person of his choosing. The exact share is not defined. What can I do? –Irfan H.
DEAR IRFAN: A joint tenant with right of survivorship can sell or convey his or her share without the consent of the other joint tenant(s). Joint tenants always own the same portion of the property.
For example, if there are two joint tenants, each owns 50 percent. If there are three joint tenants, each owns one-third, and if there are four joint tenants, each owns 25 percent.
A joint tenancy share is not subject to the joint tenant’s will. Instead, when a joint tenant dies, the remaining joint tenant(s) receive the share of the deceased joint tenant.
A joint tenant can record a quitclaim deed from himself as a joint tenant to himself as a tenant in common. This makes his share of the property subject to that co-owner’s individual will, thus defeating the purpose of joint tenancy with right of survivorship.
If there were only two joint tenants, such a conveyance terminates the joint tenancy. But if there were three or more joint tenants, the remaining joint tenants continue to hold their joint tenancy shares among themselves, but the joint tenant who conveyed to himself as a tenant in common continues to own the same percentage of the property, but without the survivorship feature. For details, please consult a local real estate attorney.
POSTMARK ON MORTGAGE PAYMENT ENVELOPE MEANS NOTHING
DEAR BOB: Several years ago, I heard on a radio talk show the host said that a monthly mortgage payment is considered to be paid on the date it was postmarked. If that is true, where can I find that law? –Ralph McG.
DEAR RALPH: There is no such law. The date the mortgage lender receives the payment is what counts. The date of mailing is irrelevant.
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