Crossett Real Estate Services
Property Management

Creating Quality of Life
Source: Property Management Journal
Louise A. Crossett

The desire to live close to work is only one of many factors influencing rental and purchasing decisions today. "Futuristic" amenities and options of today will become features of tomorrow.

Ten Years ago, home offices were considered rather unusual in rental properties: Today there are "dedicated" work spaces/areas. The new buzz word is "swing room"/"gathering room": these spaces/areas/rooms can be "blended" into the lifestyle and needs of the Renter or Purchaser, with or without computer set-ups.

For Apartment Owners and Managers, this means many prospective Renters will want properties or units designed with this need: anything from a separate room to a refurbished walk-in closet or a specially designed area.

This will also mean requirements of increased electrical capacity for computers/copiers/printers/telephone-fax lines/built-in surge protectors/cable TV/security systems & exercise equipment: the concept can be used to modernize older properties with extra user fees considered in addition to the rental fees: full sized washers & dryers/coin-operated washer & dryer with or without laundry rooms/areas/micro-wave ovens/garbage disposal units/are sought-after amenities in rental units today: apartment units are larger in terms of square footage and number of rooms: most Renters require minimum of TWO off-street parking spaces with or without garage:

Input 10/25/2001



Home Business Nuisances

Source: Journal of Property Management 2002 

New York has a state social services law that prevents its cities from targeting family day cares in welfare regulation. The court extended that law to accommodate care facilities throughout New York State. By that logic, developers, landlords, sellers & managers of residential properties in New York cannot prevent group family day care, period. Day care providers in every state can now make powerful arguments that they serve a critical public interest. 

When managers do attempt to use their contractual rights to respond to illegal uses, they must be supported by lease or association language making residents responsible for guests. Managers have direct legal authority only over parties who have signed contracts and the courts will back their rights only to that extent. Calling the police remains the best response, but eviction requires proof that residents themselves have committed contract violations. 



Background Checks & Testing

The most effective of all strategies to prevent residents from disrupting properties is screening. Lease and purchase application forms should specifically require full disclosure of any past or intended home businesses of buyers and tenants. The forms should broadly define home business to mean any for-profit enterprise whether or not traditionally conducted in residential areas. The forms should state in bold print and large font that the information is essential and managers are relying upon it in considering acceptance.

Some reported or planned uses may be compatible with neighboring residents, but managers need the information to make decisions. If buyers or tenants hide past businesses or start them on-site after denying the intention, managers have gained solid misrepresentation grounds for eviction. The only legal challenge could come under discrimination laws, which is avoided by treating all applicants the same. 


Purchase and lease documents should contain wording to empower managers to effectively respond to uses that occur despite screening efforts. Contracts should make residents responsible for illegal activities of all their guests occurring in units or common areas. Residents should agree to that responsibility even if they have not directly given their guests permission to enter the property nor have direct control over them. 

In cases where the economics of occupancy demand home business approvals, permitted use sections should very clearly describe activities and set limits on square footage, person and car traffic, hours of operation, etc. 

A simple call to the police about suspected drug activity or public nuisances can provide a defense against laws creating criminal offenses for allowing properties to be used in those ways. Notifications to local zoning officials can accomplish much the same benefits on the civil side. Local land use controls often rescue those affected by nuisance uses. 

Political Efforts 

Political initiatives @ the local or state level to sanction management protection of residents from nuisances would greatly help. In most states, courts define private nuisance as use of property in ways that unreasonably interfere with the rights of others to enjoy their own property. Most localities and states also prohibit public nuisances similarly defined. 

The problem with private nuisance law is that it gives legal rights to affected neighbors not property managers, and the problem with public nuisance law is that the authorities can become involved only if the disturbance affects enough people to be considered a public problem. Managers need language in local ordinances and state land use statutes that establishes private nuisance abatement rights in those who are responsible for as well as affected by nuisance uses. That approach may carry more potential than one confronting policy preferences for childcare and other socially desirable services that are politically popular. 

Home-based business growth will most likely continue and perhaps accelerate as consolidated business competition and economic pressures squeeze out mid-size companies and heighten motivation for entrepreneurship. In reacting to the resulting demand for lower cost commercial space, real estate professionals should recognize and manage the potential impact of profit-making nuisances on residential properties.

Input 03/13/2002



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