Q: I lived at an apartment community for many years, but my lease was not renewed because I was falsely accused of breaching my lease. I have found another rental home that is OK, but I miss my neighbors and regret that I had to move. Recently in a casual conversation with my new landlord I was surprised to learn that my prior landlord actually gave me a good reference. I would really rather live at my original community with all my friends. It was only a verbal reference, but can I use that positive referral and go back to the prior apartment community? Wouldn’t the fact that my old landlord told my new landlord that I was a good tenant require him to rent to me again?
A: I don’t think that your former landlord is required to re-rent to you based solely on the positive verbal reference he gave to your new landlord. Remember that there is no requirement that he give a reference in the first place so I don’t agree that you can use his positive recommendation against him. He actually has done you a favor by not bringing up any negative issues concerning your former tenancy. Some landlords will give every former tenant a positive reference as they are concerned that providing negative information could lead to problems. Of course, some tenants will have their family or friends pose as landlords and call the prior landlord to see what he or she is saying about the former tenant. There are many games played by both tenants and landlords when it comes to references on rental history.
I would suggest you simply contact the apartment community and see if they are willing to re-rent to you. Maybe the rental market is weak and they have more vacancies and you can reassure them that you will not breach your lease again. However, I don’t think your best strategy would be to demand that a positive verbal reference to your new landlord is grounds that they must re-rent to you. While I think that may be a good argument I don’t believe that you can establish any basis that would require them to take you back or negate any prior reasons they had for the nonrenewal of your lease. In other words, just because someone didn’t bring up the reasons your lease wasn’t renewed doesn’t mean that they are precluded from considering that information if you reapply as a prospective tenant. If you really want to pursue this, I think you should contact your original apartment community in a nonconfrontational way and explain exactly what happened and inquire if they will give you a second chance. Of course, if they are willing to let you move back, then be sure to leave your current rental home on good terms.
Q: I recently bought a home after having been a tenant at my local senior citizen apartment community for many years. The new home is fine, but I miss the great activities that they have for their residents and I want to know if I can find a way to still attend these parties and use their facilities. I have some friends there, but I have to admit that I did not get along with some residents and there were a few times that the police were called. What are a prior tenant’s rights to being invited back to the facility by friends as a guest of same for various functions?
A: When you moved to your new home you no longer have the use of the apartment community facilities or the right to attend parties that are designed for their residents. The concept of "rights" doesn’t really apply to former tenants when it comes to events or functions after they leave the property. The landlord is entitled to set certain rules for the use of common areas, but they should apply to all guests of all residents. However, if the landlord can show that a particular guest (in this case a former tenant) is disruptive or would be a problem for either the landlord or the other residents, then I think they may have a legitimate business reason for excluding certain guests. The real issue is whether a current resident can have a guest at a given function who was a former resident and whether the landlord or management is willing to allow that. I think they should if there have been no problems with this former resident in the past, but they retain the right (just like any restaurant or business) to limit potential problems that could be caused by former tenants continuing to be involved in functions designed for the current residents.
The problem may not even be the landlord but with other current tenants who complain to the landlord or manager. In these circumstances, I think it would be appropriate for the landlord or manager to exclude former tenants.
In general terms, why would a former tenant be allowed to continue to participate in all of the functions designed for the current residents anyway? Should a former tenant be allowed to routinely continue to use the swimming pool and tennis courts or fitness facilities? Personally, I don’t think so and likely the claim that they are coming back to the property as a "guest" is just an excuse or they are abusing the situation to the detriment of the current tenants. My suggestion is the former tenant should not regularly be on the property for any functions, but visiting their friends and associates in their own apartment is totally fine.
This column on issues confronting tenants and landlords is written by property manager Robert Griswold, author of "Property Management for Dummies" and co-author of "Real Estate Investing for Dummies."
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