Property manager not looking out for landlord’s interests

DEAR BOB: I own a single-family rental house, which I onceoccupied, but have rented it to tenants since 1994. Because we now live threehours away from the house, we use a professional property management firm.After many years of good relationships with the tenants, we now have a tenantwho is routinely having plumbers in to unclog drains, repair disposals, checkfor gas smells (none found), and other costs of about $600 per month. Themanagement company “hopes” the tenants will get better. As a retiree,I am very concerned about these high monthly expenses and the reluctance of theso-called management company to handle the situation seriously. I want to keepthe house. What advice do you have? –Heather H.

DEAR HEATHER: It sounds like you have a bad professional managementcompany. As the landlord, you should not be paying to unclog drains and forother plumbing problems unless the pipes are in bad condition or if tree rootsclog the sewer to the street.

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Nor should you be paying to repair a disposal unless it isdefective. Replacement is usually much cheaper if the disposal is old and wornout.

Your management company should notify the tenant that youwill not pay for any further plumbing or other repair bills unless the cause isfound to be your responsibility, such as defective pipes.


DEAR BOB: Can a joint tenant file a quitclaim deed to severa joint tenancy without the consent of the other joint tenants? The individualdoing this will be able to pass his share by his will to another person of hischoosing. The exact share is not defined. What can I do? –Irfan H.

DEAR IRFAN: A joint tenant with right of survivorship cansell or convey his or her share without the consent of the other jointtenant(s). Joint tenants always own the same portion of the property.

For example, if there are two joint tenants, each owns 50percent. If there are three joint tenants, each owns one-third, and if thereare four joint tenants, each owns 25 percent.

A joint tenancy share is not subject to the joint tenant’swill. Instead, when a joint tenant dies, the remaining joint tenant(s) receivethe share of the deceased joint tenant.

A joint tenant can record a quitclaim deed from himself as ajoint tenant to himself as a tenant in common. This makes his share of theproperty subject to that co-owner’s individual will, thus defeating the purposeof joint tenancy with right of survivorship.

If there were only two joint tenants, such a conveyanceterminates the joint tenancy. But if there were three or more joint tenants,the remaining joint tenants continue to hold their joint tenancy shares amongthemselves, but the joint tenant who conveyed to himself as a tenant in commoncontinues to own the same percentage of the property, but without thesurvivorship feature. For details, please consult a local real estate attorney.


DEAR BOB: Several years ago, I heard on a radio talk showthe host said that a monthly mortgage payment is considered to be paid on thedate it was postmarked. If that is true, where can I find that law? –RalphMcG.

DEAR RALPH: There is no such law. The date the mortgagelender receives the payment is what counts. The date of mailing is irrelevant.

The new Robert Bruss special report, “How to BuyFixer-Upper Houses with Little or No Cash for Fun and Fortune,” is nowavailable for $5 from Robert Bruss, 251 Park Road, Burlingame, CA 94010 or bycredit card at 1-800-736-1736 or instant Internet delivery at Questions for this columnare welcome at either address.

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

Copyright 2006 Inman News

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