Basics of an Effective Anti-Sexual Harassment Policy

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By Sally Still

With sexual harassment so prevalent in the news lately, employers are rightly asking…what is sexual harassment and what do I need to do about it?  If you’re an employer, let’s walk through your obligations to protect your employees from harassment and address how you should respond should it arise in your workplace.

First, an employer must exercise reasonable care to prevent and promptly correct any harassing behavior.  The way to do this is to have an effective anti-harassment policy, disseminate it to all employees, and swiftly conduct investigations into complaints of harassment when they arise.  Be clear that immediate and appropriate corrective action, including necessary discipline, will be taken whenever harassment has occurred in violation of the company’s anti-harassment policy.  Continue reading

Digital Asset Law Breaking News: Personal Representative May Be Given Access to Decedent’s Email

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By Sasha A. Klein

On October 16, 2017, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts ruled favorably on a Personal Representative’s access to a deceased user’s online accounts and digital property (Ajeman v. Yahoo). This is the first reported case with respect to access to digital assets by a fiduciary.

The conundrum: Email are part of a deceased user’s estate.  But a personal representative (aka executor) can’t read them without violating Federal privacy or anti-hacking law.  The Ajeman case is the first to permit access and will empower fiduciaries throughout the U.S.

10 Things You Need to Know

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How to Protect Yourself with Seasonal Rentals

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By Dane E. Leitner

Summer break has come to an end, and children have started school again.  In South Florida this means that “season” is right around the corner.  Season is the time of year when many snowbirds come down to avoid the cold winter, as well as many international folks who are involved in the equestrian community.  It is the perfect time when investors, and others who vacate their homes for a few months, provide housing for those coming down for season as they can usually obtain a good rental premium.

 

While seasonal renting can be lucrative for landlords, it is important that they are protected while doing so.  A well-written lease agreement that protects a landlord is a must.  A useful tip for landlords with seasonal rentals, as well as yearly rentals, is to try to obtain the entire rental amount up front or as much as possible.  Besides the obvious benefit of collecting the money at the beginning and not wondering if the tenant will make the next payment or not, there is another benefit as well.  Should the lease need to be terminated, say because the tenants throw an unruly party, if the lease is properly terminated by the landlord, the landlord could be entitled to keep the remaining amount of money that was paid for advanced rent. Continue reading

Are You a Home Buyer During A Hurricane? Here’s What You Need to Know

Here's What you Should Know if YOu are Buying a home, under contract, during a hurricane

Hurricanes are a fact of life in South Florida, and they don’t stop just because you are under contract to buy your home. As Hurricane Irma threatens all of Florida and the Caribbean, there are thousands of home buyers stuck waiting and wondering what is going to happen with their purchase.

I am often asked what people need to know and what they need to do if they are under contract to buy a home, condo, or townhouse. Here’s the general items to be aware of.

1. Your contract allows for this.

First and foremost, don’t panic – your contract to purchase allows and even makes accommodations for this very scenario (so long as you used the standard contracts). You should have a closing delay clause in your contract that allows you to close on the transaction up to a “reasonable” amount of time after a hurricane has dissipated – “reasonable” is generally considered to be about seven days.

If you’re unsure what your delay clause allows for, ask your Realtor or attorney to review your contract and walk you through it. Continue reading

Terminating a House Contract and Getting Your Deposit Back

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By Adam R. Seligman

I often get calls from real estate agents regarding residential real estate deals that end in disputes. So the natural question I always get is, if the Seller refuses to return the deposit, how do I recover my client’s deposit?

Usually the call comes after the Seller refuses to sign a Cancellation of Contract arguing that the Buyer did not provide an adequate reason for termination or defaulted in some other way.  Also note that when money is held by title companies, or other third parties acting as escrow agent, those parties can not release the deposit to the Buyer without a court order or signed release.  In many cases the title company will instead transfer the deposit to the county court by filing an interpleader action, thus costing more fees and costs.

My initial answer is that there is no immediate solution.  There isn’t much a real estate agent can do at this point.  The Buyer and Seller need to resolve their legal dispute, either on their own or with the help of lawyers. Continue reading