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Working with authorities to evict a tenant

While the relationship between a landlord and a tenant is technically a professional one, it differs from other such relationships in that it involves personal matters. For this reason, tensions between these parties can easily escalate to the point where the potential for violence exists. This often prompts landlords to involve law enforcement to help guarantee their safety when trying to evict. They must, however, receive a judgment from a court authorizing them to commence eviction proceedings before petitioning for police assistance. 

Per the St. Charles County Sheriff's Office, the department's Civil Process Sergeant schedules eviction assistance appointments (typically within a week of a landlord submitting a petition. On the scheduled day, landlords are expected to meet with their assigned representative from the sherrif's office with tools to gain entry to the unit, as well as new locks (or a locksmith) if forced entry is needed. The law enforcement officers will then announce his or her presence to the occupants and asked to be allowed to enter. If there is no response, he or she will enter through the means provided by the landlord and inspect the premises to ensure there are not threats to safety before allowing others inside. 

Probating small estates in Missouri

Estate planning in Saint Charles encompasses not only the actions required to manage your own affairs, but also those related to any estate you may be party to. If, for example, a loved one approaches you asking to be his or her personal representative, it behooves you to know all that you can about the role prior to having to assume it. Our team here at Stephen A. Martin Attorney at Law encourages those who come to us asking for guidance of fulfilling their duties as personal representatives to thoroughly understand the probate process, with the first item being whether or not the estate you are administering will even need it. 

You may have been led to believe that all estates must go through probate, yet that is not the case. Smaller estates that do not require the extensive supervision of the court may skip the process altogether. Section 473.097 of Missouri's Revised Statutes defines "small estates" in this context to be those with a total value less than $40,000 (minus any outstanding liens, debts or encumbrances against the estate). To commence distribution for such an estate, you must wait 30 days from the date of your loved one's death to file a petition. Along with this petition, you must submit any required fees as well as a bond that stands as an assurance that any claims against the estate are settled, including: 

  • Any debts owed to the state
  • Any remaining debts owed to creditors 
  • Your loved one's funeral and burial costs

Basics for creating HOA bylaws

Bylaws are an important part of any new association. Creating them requires insight, communication, research and tried-and-true methods. Creating bylaws can feel overwhelming for even the more experienced. Knowing the basics can help the process go smoother.

When can you evict?

Dealing with a troubling tenant can be a nightmare when you rent out residential properties in Saint Charles. Not only do you have to deal with the financial uncertainty that such a tenant's tendencies may cause from month-to-month, but then there is also the long-term impact that his or her actions (or inactions) may have on the property. You may already be beyond fed up with such antics and ready to evict, yet does the law allow that? While you might think that you are the one who determines under what circumstances you can force someone to leave your rental properties, the state actually affords tenants certain eviction protections. 

Per information shared be the Missouri Attorney General's Office, you can only evict a tenant in the following situations: 

  • He or she fails to pay the monthly rent
  • He or she causes damage to the property
  • He or she violates the terms of his or her lease
  • He or she allows drug-related activity to occur on the property
  • He or she engages in illegal gambling on the property 
  • He or she injures you or another tenant

How can I start an HOA?

Although there are plenty of homeowner association horror stories and nobody claims to like them, they continue to grow in popularity. According to Investopedia, half of all new houses in the U.S. between 1980 and 2000 were built and managed under an HOA. Typically formed by developers, homeowners in areas not governed by a community association are organizing them too. They recognize their use in handling issues such as security, ensuring property maintenance and contracting for services not provided by local governments.

There are many steps in organizing an HOA, which is essentially a business, and you will need the help of an attorney, particularly when it comes to following fair housing laws. You will need to establish its business structure first, forming it as a nonprofit organization or an LLC. Other steps include:

  • Drawing up legal documents that will govern the association, such as bylaws. These bylaws will define how often the HOA meets, how members vote and elect leaders and other operating procedures.
  • Determining the covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) needed to establish rules that homeowners must follow and how the HOA manages its business. Once the CC&Rs have been decided, they should be translated into words that are easily understood by residents.
  • Creating a system and procedures for modifying the CC&Rs.

Granting power of attorney

A common misconception that many in Saint Charles have about estate planning is that it only involves preparing for how one's assets will be distributed after he or she is gone. It is important to remember that estate plans should also consider what to do in the event a person's ability to make decisions for him or herself is hindered. This is where the idea of power of attorney comes into play. While handing over decision-making responsibilities to another might seem disabling, one should know that Missouri law does not leave him or her at the mercy of an attorney in fact once such authority has been granted. 

According to Section 404.710 of Missouri's state statutes, a principal (one who grants power of attorney to another), is allowed to stipulate the exact scenarios in which the attorney in fact is able to make decisions on his or her behalf. If the principal does not make any specifications, then the attorney in fact's purview includes any actions that any non-disabled or non-incapacitated adult may undertake. Such a scenario is referred to as granting general power of attorney. Still, even in such a situation, an attorney in fact is not authorized to: 

  • Make any changes to the principal's will (or create a will for him or her)
  • Modify or revoke a living will declaration for the principal
  • Require the principal to act against his or her will (or refrain from any action)
  • To act in any way forbidden by the principal while the principal still has his or her full capacity

Altercation between landlord and tenant ends in shooting

Landlord-tenant relationships in Saint Charles may often begin with the potential of blossoming into a well-functioning friendship free of discord and animosity. Yet as is often the case in any business relationship, specific details regarding the obligations of each party might place strain on any personal ties that the two parties share. In such cases, rather than remaining cordial, a landlord and a tenant may become downright hostile towards each other, resulting in actions that could potentially endanger the well-being of both. 

This fact was on full display in a recent altercation that took place between a landlord and one of his tenants in North Carolina. The dispute supposedly centered on unpaid rent as well as the overall state of the trailer (and it utilities) that the tenant was renting from the landlord. It was reported that the landlord had visited the trailer to ensure that tenant had moved out, yet found that the man was still there. A fight ensued, during which the tenant pulled a out a gun and shot the landlord twice. Fortunately, the landlord was able to escape and eventually seek medical treatment for his wounds. The tenant fled, yet was later arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon. 

Can a tenant sublease your space?

Imagine showing up at one of your rental properties in Saint Charles and being surprised to see someone other than the tenant answer the door. When you ask where the tenant is, the stranger responds by saying that the tenant had to leave, and subsequently allowed him or her to move in. Yet the stranger also tells you not to worry: he or she is paying the rent payment to the (now former) tenant, who plans on then paying it to you. 

This process is known as subleasing, and right now, you are probably wondering if it is even allowed in Missouri. According to information shared by the state's Attorney General's Office, the answer to that question is yes...and no. Your tenant can attempt to sublease your property, but only if he or she has your consent to do so. Subleasing often becomes an option when a tenant (for whatever reason) needs to vacate a property before his or her lease expires. Rather than dealing with the hassle (and potential penalties) that come with terminating the lease early, he or she can attempt to find another occupant who can then take it over. The new occupant may then pay the rent to the tenant (who then must pay it to you), or give it to you directly. 

What to know if your HOA is facing a personal injury lawsuit

While you might appreciate all the opportunities that come from being a member of the board of directors for your Homeowner Association (HOA), you are also afraid of what happens when one of the local homeowners decides to take an issue to court. You and the rest of the board will have to discuss how to deal with something that can be potentially very damaging to the association.

Personal injury is a common lawsuit many HOAs experience. Homeowners could see any slip or fall on their property as failure to upkeep the area. In the event that your board is sued for damages, you should prepare yourself by reviewing different areas of the lawsuit to eliminate or reduce any costs that could come with the lawsuit.

Beginning the probate process

Your reluctance to dive into your estate planning is understandable given that few people in Saint Charles like to face the prospect of their own deaths. Doing so, however, is important if you hope to avoid issues with the distribution of your estate. Yet almost as important as preparing an estate is also preparing those who have been chosen to administer it. Many clients have come to us here at Stephen A. Martin Attorney at Law after having been asked to serve as the personal representative of an estate, yet not knowing what to do when their loved one dies. 

According to Missouri's Probate Code, your personal representative should first file a petition with the probate court that would have jurisdiction over your case. That would be the court in the county in which you reside or any county in which you hold property if you are a resident of the state. This needs to be done within 20 days of your death. That petition should include a copy of your will (if one has not already been filed with the court), the names and contact information of all heirs and other interested parties to the estate, as well as a valuation of your estate's assets. 

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