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Can My Landlord Increase My Rent Because I Installed a Washer? And More Free Legal Advice – Free Joe 8/10/12

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On Tuesdays and Fridays, attorney Joe Escalante answers legal questions for free on the LegalZoom Facebook Page. Did you miss the last Free Joe? Don’t worry. We’ve got it all right here.

Cindi: until i apply for a business license am i required to pay taxes?

Joe Escalante: A business license is money the city or county tries to get out of you. That has little to do with the taxes all the other government entities want to get out of you. Pay Caesar.

Ayanna: My apartment has a hook up for a washer and dryer. I purchased a all in one high efficiency dryer that i probably use twice a week or every other week. My landord said he was concerned that he wouldnt be getting his money back for the 1 washer and 1 dryer he put in out apartment building for us to share. and said he is charging me $50 a month b/c of it. The washer is a small apartment front loading washer that uses about 60% less water than the one in the laundry facility. I it extortion that he charge me this much a month for my small washer. PS. the washer unit reports from the FTC that its estimated yearly goes is $!4.

Joe Escalante: Your landlord is a jerk. But the jerk has a right to increase your rent if you are on a month to month tenancy. However, to survive court scrutiny, your landlord would have to actually raise the rent, not create charges for things that were not bargained for.

Rebecca: Good morning, Joe. My better half has been paying child support for a number a years for a child that he doen’t know if it is his even though he requested a paternity test. The case went to court about a year ago but was dropped due to promiscuity on the female’s part. The case was re-opened by the female and her laywer under a different case number. The documents were sent to the wrong address and my better half never got them, even though they do have the current address. The female lives in Florida. How does he get the case dropped and the Child support stopped? He was told by someone that he has to go to Florida. Is that correct or can it be taken care of here on Houston? It has been really putting a strain on his check and us. the child may be 17 or even 18 y.o.a. by now.

Joe Escalante: This is hard to answer because a lot of it doesn’t add up. If the first court has jurisdiction over both parties, which I assume it does, since it handled the initial proceedings, he may be able to petition that court for a paternity test. With those results he can probably get the Florida matter dismissed by mail. However, if the kid is his, he will probably have to appear in Florida.

Cynthia: Help! I am hoping that your perception of and advice for my situation will help not only me but others in my situation. I am in a dispute with my landlord regarding several issues. In a nutshell, I was a good tenant who signed a one year lease, paid all rents before they were due (sometimes as much as a week) or on exact due date, and obeyed all “house rules” and lease requirements. A month prior to the leases’ end, I decided to move because of situations occurring in the house which made me feel unsafe. Prior to move out and within the legal guidelines, I asked for a pre-inspection and she refused. It is my belief that she violated the “pre-departure” requirements outlined in California Civil Code Section 1950.5(f). Additionally, at all times, the rented premises were kept in immaculate condition, because it is my nature to keep my surroundings in such a condition. The landlord is now claiming I caused damage to a 2′ by 1′ area of the wood flooring in the room I rented. She won’t give me my deposit back or even a portion thereof. My lease ended June 23, 2012. I would like to pursue a small claims action to recover my $700.00 security deposit, which I cannot afford to lose, but am unsure how to proceed or if I should proceed. I have outlined the basic facts and can provide them to you, at this time, for you to review, if appropriate. I hope you can, so you can provide me with any advice. I really do need to recover this money or most of it. Also, I think many other individuals, not just myself, could benefit from your perspective. I feel very strongly that there are many individuals, who are renting rooms and baths these days (because they cannot afford to rent anything else during these tough economic times, for one reason or another), that are being taken advantage of by some individuals renting out such spaces who are not aware of Tenant-Landlord laws in the State of California.

Joe Escalante: You should file the claim if you have decent evidence that the floor was not damaged during your tenancy. The landlord has a right to recover the cost of floor damage if it is beyond normal wear and tear.

Avalon: I have a question about changing my name. I have taken on a spiritual name and am feeling like I would like to make it my legal name. What is the process for this?

Joe Escalante: Well Avalon, it is legally permissible to change your name for spiritual reasons. My advice is to click below and let Legalzoom help you through it. You can go to the court and get it done on your own, but LZ will save you a ton of time. I’m a lawyer, I’ve done this, and it’s not fun if you don’t know the process.

LegalZoom: Here’s the link:

Carla: Do I need a DBA to start a photography business if I’m using my own name? (California) If not, what are the first steps to start my sole proprietorship? Thank you.

Joe Escalante: You don’t need a D.B.A. to legally run your sole proprietorship though your own name, but it’s good to do so that you can at least keep the funds separate for tax purposes and it may help if there are any legal issues in the future. If som
eone sues you for burning their retina with a faulty flash cube or something, you’re going to argue that this was the business’ fault so don’t try to take my house. The blind person is going to say, “you co-mingled your funds, so I say it’s all the same, give me your house.” To really get protection from this kind of thing, people form LLCs and incorporate. Or they get lots of insurance.

LegalZoom: Here’s a link to our DBA services, Carla:

Muhajirah: I have a question, If I won a trip from a sweepstakes but was not able to go on the day planned do I really lose out on going? They said since I booked but didn’t go it counts as me going. My friend who was going with me got sick and I had to cancel BTW.

Joe Escalante: It will all depend on the language in the sweepstakes rules. It is likely that they would be out of pocket with the travel company because of the cancellation, so it may not be reasonable for them to pay to accommodate your misfortune.

Kevin: What is the best way I can raise my corporate credit, without revealing my personal financial issues? My personal credit is pretty much shot due to student loans, but my biz finances are completely separate. Is there any recourse for a new corporation?

Joe Escalante: This is more of a credit counseling issue rather than a legal question but Legalzoom has some good credit info, as usual.

Ed: I’m a contractor. The company that hires me states I HAVE to logo my vehicles with their brand. But yet, I own the vehicles and pay for all expenses. Any thoughts?

Joe Escalante: Legally, they can’t force you, but legally they don’t have to hire you either. Have you seen these cowboy hard hats?

Dan: what will happen to this man who got aressted 3 times threats and harrass me and got stay away order on him and wegot pre trial monday and im scared..

Joe Escalante: They’ll probably let him go. Say a prayer.

Alex: Hi. I have power of attorney over my father. He has advanced stages of Alzheimer’s. How do
I amend a power of attorney to Include other people, like siblings to the power of attorney documents?

Joe Escalante: As the person with power of attorney, you have the authority to authorize others to do what you need them to do. You can draft this authorization as the person with the power of attorney and show it to whoever would need it.

Ashley: If u go and place a deposit on a home a then decide not to move in and even notifie the landlord within 24hrs due to the fact that this home isnt covered by the equal housing unite,by law do thay have to give your deposit back?

Joe Escalante: A court might give you that deposit back. Unless the landlord could demonstrate harm that he suffered as a result of accepting your application, or that the deposit is a reasonable deterrent for other people causing him harm by cancelling willy nilly in other circumstances.

Donavan: is it possible to start a llc in newyork with a po box as an address?

Joe Escalante: I think you can start an LLC in New York with just an agent of service.

Annette: Joe, in a Workmans comp case where they have stated that I am partially disabled. Can I get the to pay for the partial knee replacement and get a partial settlement amount or is it an either/or situation?

Joe Escalante: The thing to do would be to apply for it. If denied, examine the reason given and if it seems lame, consult a worker’s comp attorney for their opinion of the case.

Jennifer: I was awarded joint/primary physical custody of my child. He has refused to comply with court orders (supplying insurance, following visitation rules-he made 5 attempts and quit) what do I need to do to have his rights removed? He’s not seen or bothered with her for over 3 years.

Joe Escalante: Sorry about this. You need to petition the court to modify the support and custody orders to reflect what’s going on in the best interest of the child.

Lisa: Can I file for grandparent visitation without an attorney, and which forms do I need? Parents are not together, never married. Paternal grandfather has guardianship and refuses to let me remove the girls from his home as his paperwork states he can make that call regarding anyone. I just learned that I had grandchildren last November.

Joe Escalante: You could petition the court for visitation rights but it doesn’t sound like a good case because the kids are not dependent on you from a prior relationship.

Jerryl: Here’s my question: before someone sells a mixed cd of various artists from a radio show they would have to get permission from each artist and publishing company to prevent copyright infringement, yes??…:0)

Joe Escalante: they need two licenses per track. One is the master use license from whoever paid for the recording to be made. The other is from the songwriter which is called a mechanical license (publishing). You may not need any permission from the artist if the artist doesn’t own the publishing or master.

Deanna: Hi Joe,
My question is: if you create a dba name and file taxes using Schedule C, are you able to turn that dba into an S Corporation later on?
Thanks a lot!

Joe Escalante: I don’t know how it would affect your taxes, but you can form an S-Corp anytime you want with your DBA name. You can choose an S-corp election down the road for your LLC, but I don’t know your situation with this DBA.

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August 14th, 2012 at 5:29 am