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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Columbus GA
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    3,746

    Default Crack in sidewalk

    Some of you know that I have rental properties.
    Occasionally I answer questions and give opinions to other landlords.

    I have a friend (really, not me) that has a problem with a tenant.
    The tenant moved in and now has a laundry list of "Unsafe conditions" that they want taken care of. The tenant has called the city inspector in.
    The city inspector said repairs must be made or the LL will be fined.

    One item on the list is a crack in the sidewalk to the front door.
    I have not seen the sidewalk but the LL described it as:
    1/8- 1/4" wide, with both sides even with the other side.

    If it is as stated, I would not think this would be unsafe.
    What are your thoughts?

    How do you think the LL should proceed?

    Again this is not my property, I am just offering suggestions as to what extent his duty is for this kind of repair as a LL.

    I did offer to go look at the sidewalk and photo it, the LL said that would not be a good idea. When the LL went to look at it and the tenant threatened to call the police (they did not know he was coming).

    Thanks

    Similar Threads:
    Last edited by Rick Cantrell; 01-19-2012 at 08:09 AM. Reason: left out a word
    Inspection Referral SOC
    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Chicago IL
    Posts
    1,984

    Default Re: Crack in sidewalk

    Sounds like a problem tenant. Maybe a professional tenant = someone who knows how to work the system to live for free most of the time going from property to property.
    First off, I'd suggest your friend get a copy of the local tenant / landlord rights ordinance or other applicable statutes that your municipality has. Then get a separate notebook and document every visit, every conversation with times, dates and points of conversation, pictures of everything.
    If the tenant threatens the landlord when he comes over to fix an exterior issue, that smells of scam to me. What the hell should the tenant care if the landlord is outside fixing something they complained about. Obviously the LL should give notice if coming inside the unit, 24 hrs is typical around here.
    As far as the sidewalk, fix it. 1/4" gap he can go to HD and get some tube or bucket epoxy patch and caulk it. Fix all other problems as fast as possible. It may be better for him to have you or someone else go over to avoid conflict. Also if the LL sends someone else over who is smart, say like you , it could be a good way to gather intell about the tenant.
    Having spent 6 1/2 years as a property manager, I would say it sounds like the tenant is trying to build a case not to pay rent coming up in the next few months. Granted I could be wrong and the person is just a normal PIA. if OTOH the tenant is looking to build a case to avoid paying rent, I would suggest your friend start building a case as to how the tenant has not complied with specifics of the lease agreement. This should help in earlier eviction without the LL having to worry about bad consequences from a supposed retaliatory eviction proceeding.
    One of those lessons you don't think about until you learn it ... If you see bags of garbage piled up at the unit either inside, on the porch, in the stairwell, etc. take date stamped pictures every time you see it. That way when in two months the tenant complains about rats or roaches and how you the LL aren't doing anything about it, you have the pictures to show the tenants actions are the contributing factor, not your lack of attention to your own property.

    www.aic-chicago.com
    773/844-4AIC
    "The Code is not a ceiling to reach but a floor to work up from"

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Columbus GA
    Posts
    3,746

    Default Re: Crack in sidewalk

    Marcus
    Thanks for the advice.
    As for having ME go out there, I don't think I want to get that involved in this.
    The LL is a friend of mine, and WAS my next door neighbor.
    So now the tenant IS my neighbor. (never met them)
    I really don't want the tenant to have any reason to ever call me.
    I MAY consider documenting conditions, but not doing any repairs.

    Again Thanks

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    2,778

    Default Re: Crack in sidewalk

    Rick,
    Speaking as a landlord, 30 yrs. Not knowing Columbus, GA law.

    From a MD perspective.
    Access to exterior of property does not require notice.
    Interior access is reasonable notice unless an emergency.

    I would not hesitate to go to the property to do anything on exterior during normal business hours or send anyone else in my place. Let tenant call police. Get police report as an example of tenant trying to restrict access to the property.

    Give notice, 24 hrs, that landlord or his representatives will be gaining access to property during the hours of 9am and 5pm to effect repairs (no specific time). You do not have to give notice that the landlord/reps are not coming. If the tenant wants to be present they can sit and wait.

    Start a weekly/monthly inspection of the property for any repairs that may be needed, 24 hrs notice.

    Crack that is level is normally not considered a trip hazard, needs to be 1/4" to 1/2".
    Crack width might be considered if an issue for high heels getting lodged.
    (((((( Quick & easy fix is a tube of self leveling crack filler (gray-polyurathane) from Home Depot)))

    Laundry list does suggest a problem tenant if the property is in good condition.
    City inspector often will be on the side of the tenant or at least leaning that way.
    Usually items are small and a result of coming to find something just to justify job.
    So just fix items. Document everything before and after repair.
    Landlord calls inspector to reinspect repairs as described by inspector while landlord is there during re-inspection. If not illegal record re-inspection for documentation.
    The landlord should have taken pictures of the interior and exterior of the property prior to tenant moving in as documentation, walls-ceilings-closets-appliances(interior and exterior) and on and on, extensive.
    Anytime the landlord does anything to property, take a picture for documentation.
    Keep a phone and contact log of every contact with tenant, noting what was discussed.
    Landlord get a better lease that spells out everything and has tenant accepting the property and listing any defects (separate signed addendum) on move in.

    My lease is 10 pages and covers every thing imaginable in it. 30 yrs ago lease was 1 page. Have learned a few lessons over the years.

    Taking as fact that the property is in good condition and maintained, the tenant may be just a pain in the ass as some can be. Calling in City Inspector without first contacting landlord does sound like the beginning of a set up for a future confrontation. Staging a rent dispute. In MD the tenant has to go to the Court House and file paperwork and make payments to the Court if there is a rent dispute. Else its off to rent court to start eviction process. Today I file the first day that rent is past due.

    Tenants can seem great at first and then turn on you. I have been fooled to often.

    Your friend has figured that he has an adversarial relationship with this tenant and should protect himself accordingly. If the tenant is late( 1 day) with rent file paperwork in court for eviction. In MD the tenant can make late payment and the landlord has to take it, except that with 4 court filings the landlord can give notice and evict tenant. Get your friend up to speed on what he has a leverage in the rental process. Things differ from county to county in MD, some better than others. In Baltimore City it can take 6 to 8 months to evict a tenant on breach of lease. Baltimore County it may take 60 to 90 days.

    Bottom line play by the rules, but make them work to your benefit and not the tenants. Not surprising that some tenants are better informed that the landlord.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Columbus GA
    Posts
    3,746

    Default Re: Crack in sidewalk

    Access to exterior of property does not require notice.
    Interior access is reasonable notice unless an emergency.

    Yes

    I would not hesitate to go to the property to do anything on exterior during normal business hours or send anyone else in my place. Let tenant call police. Get police report as an example of tenant trying to restrict access to the property.
    I like that.

    Give notice, 24 hrs, that landlord or his representatives will be gaining access to property during the hours of 9am and 5pm to effect repairs (no specific time). You do not have to give notice that the landlord/reps are not coming. If the tenant wants to be present they can sit and wait.
    I really like that

    Start a weekly/monthly inspection of the property for any repairs that may be needed, 24 hrs notice.
    I really really like that

    Crack that is level is normally not considered a trip hazard, needs to be 1/4" to 1/2".
    Crack width might be considered if an issue for high heels getting lodged.
    (((((( Quick & easy fix is a tube of self leveling crack filler (gray-polyurathane) from Home Depot)))

    Good idea

    Laundry list does suggest a problem tenant if the property is in good condition.
    City inspector often will be on the side of the tenant or at least leaning that way.
    Usually items are small and a result of coming to find something just to justify job.

    True

    So just fix items. Document everything before and after repair.
    Landlord calls inspector to reinspect repairs as described by inspector while landlord is there during re-inspection. If not illegal record re-inspection for documentation.
    The landlord should have taken pictures of the interior and exterior of the property prior to tenant moving in as documentation, walls-ceilings-closets-appliances(interior and exterior) and on and on, extensive.
    Anytime the landlord does anything to property, take a picture for documentation.


    Taking as fact that the property is in good condition and maintained, the tenant may be just a pain in the ass as some can be. Calling in City Inspector without first contacting landlord does sound like the beginning of a set up for a future confrontation.

    I agree
    Staging a rent dispute. In MD the tenant has to go to the Court House and file paperwork and make payments to the Court if there is a rent dispute. Else its off to rent court to start eviction process.
    Same here

    Your friend has figured that he has an adversarial relationship with this tenant and should protect himself accordingly.
    I agree
    If the tenant is late( 1 day) with rent file paperwork in court for eviction.
    Good idea
    In MD the tenant can make late payment and the landlord has to take it, except that with 4 court filings the landlord can give notice and evict tenant.
    In GA the court will make the LL accept rent one time every 12 months, 2nd time, goodbye.

    Get your friend up to speed on what he has a leverage in the rental process.
    That is why I posted here.


    Bottom line play by the rules, but make them work to your benefit and not the tenants. Not surprising that some tenants are better informed that the landlord.
    True

    Thanks

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Orlando, FL
    Posts
    1,340

    Default Re: Crack in sidewalk

    As has been suggested, tell him (or her) to fill the crack with sealant. The City Inspector won't stop until LL complies.

    When the LL went to look at it and the tenant threatened to call the police (they did not know he was coming).
    Tell LL to get a better lease from a local attorney for the next renter. He needs an "access & inspection" clause to prevent that nonsense.

    Dom.


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