In this video, we explain what to do if your #landlord is #overcharging you for common area maintenance in Illinois. In many commercial leases, tenants are required to pay a share of taxes, utilities, and common area maintenance charges (“CAM”). This “additional rent” will fluctuate from year to year. It’s not uncommon for landlords to overcharge their tenants for CAM. This is referred to as Common Area Maintenance Fraud.
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I’m Attorney Robert Flessas. Part of my practice in Wisconsin includes landlord representation. This video is intended to provide useful information not only for landlords, but provides an eye opening realization for tenants too.
Let’s start with the legal agreement that is created between a landlord and a tenant. When a landlord and tenant enter into a lease, they are making promises to each other.
The landlord promises to provide housing to the tenant. The tenant promises to pay rent to the landlord.
A common fault committed by landlords is that they allow tenants to get away with not paying their rent, sometimes for months.
By not paying rent, a tenant faces an eviction that permanently appears on the public court records, which affects their ability to obtain housing in the future.
Let’s briefly look at each issue.
Tenant’s will cite reasons like unexpected healthcare bills, unexpected auto repairs, or having to use their money to get caught up on utilities.
This usually results in the landlord giving the tenant a break, telling the tenant that they can get caught up the following month.
Before long, the tenant owes 3 months of rent.
The Landlord, after the third month of no rent, calls an attorney and the eviction process begins by delivering a 5-day notice to the tenant telling them to pay the rent or vacate the unit.
For a landlord, they waited too long to serve the tenant with a notice.
On the tenant side, the tenant ignores the notice, doesn’t pay and the eviction is filed. This creates a bad situation for a tenant because now, public court records show that an eviction was filed against the tenant.
By the way, eviction court records are searched by landlords when a prospective tenant applies for a unit. That record tells another landlord that you have a history of not paying rent.
Now, the landlord is going to lose 4 month’s rent based upon the time the tenant strung the landlord out, and the time it takes to serve the tenant with eviction papers and waiting for the court date, removing the tenant, preparing the unit for a new tenant, and re-renting the unit.
For landlords, the better way to handle a delinquent tenant is as follows.
In Wisconsin, when the deadline to pay rent passes on the first delinquency, the landlord must deliver a 5-day notice to the tenant, giving the tenant a short period of time to pay.
If the deadline passes, then the landlord should spend the money to proceed with an eviction to force payment, cut off the compassion spigot, and avoid losing months of rent.
If you’re a tenant, you probably think this message is really mean and ruthless.
Well, it’s not. Think about it.
The landlord upheld their promise. The tenant, by failing to pay rent, did not.
Once the tenant receives the landlord’s 5-day notice, the ball is in the tenant’s court.
If the tenant pays within the notice period, the crisis is over. If the tenant needs a few more days past the notice period, the landlord can grant additional time.
But at minimum, the landlord, by timely delivering notice to the tenant when the first instance of delinquency occurs, the landlord is protected. They shouldn’t wait.
Tenant’s should avoid non-payment. If there is a problem paying rent, the tenant should contact the landlord immediately. Don’t wait! Make payment arrangements, and follow through with your promise.
Rentals are a business transaction between a landlord and tenant. Just like a tenant, a landlord has bills to pay too. Failure to follow through with your promise results in a bad financial ending for both.
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I’m Attorney Robert Flessas. Thanks for watching.
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landlord legal advice