Saturday, September 25, 2021

Lease Nonrenewal are Becoming a Problem

Now that people have received their taxpayer funds to pay their back rent, the next big threat to tenants, at least, is the landlord's decision to not renew leases.

This has become prevalent because some leases have renewal clauses that limit how much the rent can be raised during the next term. If the landlord can move the old tenant for a new tenant, the rent can be raised hundreds of dollars. Without a rent increase clause, the landlord can increase the rent anyway.

Georgia law on non-subsidized housing does not protect the tenant with right to renew laws and rent caps. Therefore, unless the landlord is willing to negotiate with you, the best thing to do is move on to another location.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Fee Increase

Because if rampant inflation, my fees will increase 20% for new clients effective August 15.

Friday, July 23, 2021

One of the Greatest Threats to the American Dream

Read my post from Facebook. You heard of Blackrock and how they are sucking up houses. Here is another player who is threatening the American dream.

Fortunately, Americans have a way to fight back against these house monsters - legislation. Make the rental property market for large landlords so untenable that they are forced to sell. That would include large fines and property sales to buyers who are going to reside in the houses for repeat offenses. There is a way to do it legally.

This type of advocacy is more important to me than the practice of law. You don't need to be a lawyer to be a policy advocate. In fact, I can see how a license may be an impediment. Once you finish law school, a person can use those skills for almost anything without taking a state bar.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Be Careful of Overbilling & Teams

As noted on my most recent Facebook and Twitter posts, it appears overbilling and teams are becoming the norm to maximize profits for firms.

Now, large corporate cases and large car accident cases require resources and eyes of two or more lawyers, two or more paralegals, and a team of legal assistants. 

Most cases don't fall under this umbrella. Indeed, I hear complaints that people who hire these firms who run up costs at the beginning have no other choice but to stay with them because of the money expended.  Sometime people have to take out loans for thousands or tens of thousands of dollars to fund a lawsuit. 

For small or solo firms think there also. Before I started on the path to shut down the Firm, I cared more about the work and charged a flat fee. So, and hour estimate may indeed be off by three or four hours. The pipeline clogged, but the work was better with those extra hours. 

Read more about teams, padding, and why the litigation swamp is no longer for me.

Monday, July 5, 2021

Shutting Off Utilities Can Cost You

I understand landlords' frustration with the CDC and it's refusal to take small landlords' dire situations into consideration. However, don't make a bad situation worse by shutting off your tenants' utilities.


Georgia code 44-7-14.1 makes it unlawful to suspend utilities until the dispossessory process is over.  Additionally, if convicted, the court can fine you up to $500.  However, that is just the state's penalty.


The tenant can also sue you for wrongful eviction, which would include actual damages for loss of power, emotional damages, and punitive damages. It's not worth the hundreds of dollars you may save by shutting down the power if it costs you tens of thousands of dollars for being impatient and frustrated.


1. Email the landlord and demand restoration.
2. Document any food loss from electricity loss.
3. Document extra expenses and time off from work.
4. If the a/c or heat are inoperable, document the temperature.
5. Every 24 hours, email your landlord until service is restored.
6. Call a lawyer to determine if immediate intervention is required.
7. Once service is restored contact a lawyer to discuss claims against your landlord.

Monday, May 17, 2021

Semi-Retirement - I am moving away from demanding justice under the law and towards demanding justice under politics and policy

My firm demanded justice for individuals and small companies by taking small consumer cases that did not interest other lawyers.  A lawyer has to take a large numbers of small cases just to breakeven.  Nevertheless,  my case load doesn't make a dent in the problem.  For each client I take, many more want to hire me and many more cannot find another lawyer with the same price range and experience. Despite that, I did help over a thousand people per year by merely picking up the phone and providing 5-10 minute consultations.  However, now, bigger issues require bigger solutions.  

July 4th, I will turn away from the law and move toward politics and policy.  No, I will not run for office, because I just don't have the temperament or personality.  However, people can do so much without holding office, and I intend to do that in whatever capacity my personality and abilities allow.  

In the meantime, I will still accept calls from people who want to ask questions or want me to shoot off a letter or settle a case without going to court.  Although the everyday practice of the law no longer interests me, from time to time I will step into court until I get tired of spending my  money on bar dues and continuing legal education classes.   

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Small Business Landlord-Tenant Issues

As I wait for the CDC Moratorium to lift, my focus has turned to small business landlord-tenant issues. It is clear to me that for small business owners hit with personal accelerated lease payments or large back rent judgments, the only option may be bankruptcy.

Due Diligence
Before settling on a location, hire an agent who can assist you in conducting due diligence regarding traffic, the history of other businesses at that location, demographics, product choice, etc. For retail businesses, location, location, location is key.

Read the Lease & Seek Counsel
I understand new business owners are excited about opening a new retail business. However, new owners shouldn't let that excitement cloud the need to review a lease with a fine tooth comb. Indeed, most retail owners open rent an empty space, commit to years of rent that total tens of thousands of dollars, and take out loans to modify that newly rented space. Sometimes, owners are so focused on construction and equipment, they forget to read the lease.

Prior to signing, hire a lawyer to review the document.
Does the document have CAM charges that will increase your monthly expenses?
Does the lease have income charges?
How are repairs allocated?
Who takes care of HVAC replacements?
What happens if the building is destroyed or damaged?
Can the tenant sublease if the business is in trouble?
Can you avoid having a personal guaranty?
Is there a lockout and seizure provision?

These are things an experienced landlord-tenant lawyer can review with you before you sign the lease.

Trouble After Opening
Sometimes, a dispute arises between the landlord and tenant for a myriad of reasons. If this happens, make sure everything is in writing to memorialize the discussion. If the parties cannot come to an agreement quickly, consult a lawyer. Getting a lawyer involved quickly may prevent headaches and costs in the future.