I have a situation where I let a friend stay in a home that I have up for sale. He was to help with the mortgage payment and pay the utilities since I don’t live in the home. He did not follow through with his part, leaving me with hefty winter utility bills so I told him he needed to find another place to live. I put his things into the garage and told him I’d done so, but he has not made efforts to remove them in almost a month. What can I do to get him to remove them?
This might depend on how good a friend he really is and the terms of agreement you had with the friend. If you had a written agreement of any kind, it might be construed to be a lease or rental agreement even if not so titled. Even if you had no written lease agreement, it is possible that a court would consider him to be a tenant under an oral lease agreement where your agreement was that he pay certain amounts, with the amounts construed to be rent.
Understand that if your friend had claimed to have an oral agreement for any term up to one year you would have had to evict him through the court in order to regain possession of your property.
In most states a landlord cannot take possession of the rental premises unless the tenant has relinquished possession. If the friend has not recently occupied the property and did not indicate any objection when you informed him that you moved his things into the garage you are likely OK. Since he is no longer occupying the home, he must have somewhere other than your garage where his things can be stored. Accordingly, in order to maintain your friendship and to avoid any possible legal issues, you might consider asking him when you can deliver his things to his new place.
* * * * * *
Children sometimes play in the parking lot of my apartment complex. Can I enforce prohibition of them doing so if I post signs regarding it?
You can post signs and you can enforce them, but you must be careful what the signs say. Having the signs say “Children are prohibited from playing in the parking lot” could be a violation of fair housing laws because it singles out children as the class being prohibited. Having the signs say “No one may play in the parking lot” or “Playing in the parking lot is prohibited” would be better. I would add that in order to avoid any claims of discrimination the prohibition must be enforced equally against everyone – children and adults alike.
* * * * * *
Then what about my “Fitness center users must be 12 or older” rule?
There are activities for which persons below a certain age are more likely to injure themselves compared to older persons and those persons can be prohibited from putting themselves at risk. For such cases, the prohibition should usually be against those younger than the age recommended in writing by the manufacturer of the equipment. For activities such as swimming in a community pool, one can usually have a requirement such as “Swimmers younger than 12 must be supervised at all times by an adult resident of the community.” One must use care to avoid the appearance of attempting to subvert fair housing laws and be sure that the rules are uniformly enforced.
* * * * * *
Most of the issues discussed in these Q&A’s are covered in considerably more detail in our eCourses and/or in our Mini Training Guides.