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Archive for Friday, July 29, 2005

Community rental laws differ

July 29, 2005

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Q: Our landlord gave us a 60-day notice to move, but the 60th day is a Saturday. We would rather move on the 61st day (Sunday), but the landlord says the law requires us to leave on that Saturday. Is this true?

A: You probably have the right to move on Sunday, even though it's the 61st day.

Though rental law varies from one community to the next, the procedure for determining when a termination notice expires in most parts of the country requires the landlord to begin counting on the day after the notice is served.

If the last day of a 30- or 60-day notice to move falls on a Saturday, Sunday or holiday, the tenant typically has until the end of the next business day to vacate. This means that you probably can wait until Sunday or even 5 p.m. Monday to move - but call the local rent-control board or similar agency to make sure this standard rule applies in your particular community.

Q: I live in a townhome development that is governed by a homeowners association. One of the association's directors died suddenly and the board appointed a new member to take her place, without calling for a special election. The new director is stupid and nasty. Did the board have the right to arbitrarily name a new director without a vote of the development's residents?

A: Probably, although you'd have to check the association's bylaws to get a more definitive answer.

The bylaws of most associations allow their directors to automatically fill a seat that unexpectedly becomes vacant without first calling a special election, in part because such elections can be costly and time-consuming. But if you personally check the bylaws and discover that the directors don't have such power, file a written complaint with the board and ask that an election be conducted.

If the directors won't honor the request, contact your state's real estate department for help.

Q: We recently sold our home for a very good price. What bothered us was that the agent we hired insisted on showing us every single offer, even those that were far below our asking price. Isn't the agent supposed to determine which offer is best, and avoid wasting the seller's time by showing them offers that are clearly unacceptable?

A: Real estate law, as well as the National Association of Realtors' own ethics code, requires agents to show every single offer to their home-selling clients. Good agents may certainly recommend one particular offer over another, but the seller must still be presented with any offer that is made - even if it's for only $1.

Your letter states that you sold your home "for a very good price." This suggests that your agent did an outstanding job of marketing the property, and the profit you realized from the sale easily offsets the relatively small amount of time that you might have spent reviewing offers that appeared ridiculously low.

Q: A long time ago, you provided some advice for some home buyers who were trying to make their move easier on their pets. I wish I had saved that column, because we're about to move into a new home with our three dogs and two cats. Would you repeat that advice?

A: I'd be happy to, especially because many of the 2 million or so people who bought or sold a home in late spring are now beginning to close their transactions and will soon hit the road with their Fluffies or Rovers in tow.

Dogs and cats generally don't like new surroundings, so it would help if you take them for a visit to your new home before you actually move in. Let dogs wander and sniff around the property until they seem comfortable. Take them for a walk in the new neighborhood so they can familiarize themselves with its smells and find a favorite new tree or fire hydrant.

As you pack for your move, resist the temptation to throw out your pets' old toys or bowls. Take them to your new home instead. Children often feel better if they're given a new toy as part of a move, but animals are creatures of habit who like the "same old stuff."

Also keep your pets' old bedding, unless it's infested with fleas. Like you, your dogs and cats will feel better if they keep sleeping in the same beds they've always had - even though they'll be bunking in a brand-new location.

- David W. Myers is a 20-year veteran of the newspaper and magazine business, having previously covered real estate for the Los Angeles Times and Investor's Business Daily.

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