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Hi guys,

I have a situation which bothers me someway. My parents lived in one apartment 20 years, I guessed they liked it, quiet, not expensive, etc. Their latest landlord decided kick them out with a one month notice, to fully remodel the apartment, and put in the market for a $300 increase in rent. Now, landlord agreed to not charge for repairs for normal wear and tear on the carpet, walls, etc, but did charge them about $700 for cigarette smoke damage. Their lease with the newest landlord does state "no smoking in unit". Isn't this charge too high for a two bedroom apartment?

My parents were planning on buying a house after this apartment, but the notice came out of nowhere. Now, my parents have had big unnecessary expenses, because of the notice, put them instead in search of temp housing. Landlord is formally correct with the one month notice, but wouldn't it be considered inhuman or elderly discriminating to not give a more advanced notice? Yes, I know that by law landlord does not have obligation to babysit each renter, but in this case my old unsuspecting folks after many years in that same apartment was absolutely shocked to learn news that they must leave in 1 month and the clock is already ticking. I'm sure the landlord was already planning on remodeling prior and their Handyman was always around the property, even a word of mouth notice like "oh hey, I heard the landlord wants to remodel soon, just a heads up"

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I'm hoping he does it and posts a video on youtube...

mwa423 (Oct. 18, 2016 @ 10:01a) |

Wait until you see how he Sears them...

TravelerMSY (Oct. 18, 2016 @ 12:16p) |

flamethrower...FTW

BocephusSTL (Oct. 18, 2016 @ 3:09p) |

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rated:
Sounds like they've been smoking in the apartment in direct violation of the lease?    
Did their previous lease(s) ban smoking?   Had they been living in the place many years with smoking allowed and then have a new rule put in place at some point or was smoking never allowed?
What specific kind of damage is there from the smoke?     Does the statement from the landlord itemize it at all?   Some stuff should be normal wear and tear after 20 years.   Like you can't charge to repaint if they've been there 20 years.  Other things aren't wear and tear like cigarette burns on the counter.    Whether its fair or not depends on what they're charged for specifically.    Hard to know if 700 is reasonable without knowing what the damage was.    Personally I think its unlikely there's 700 legit damage.   And if the landlord just wants to remodel and would tear the place apart anyway then I think its unethical to charge for damage that's inconsequential.

No I don't think its very nice to evict with no cause 1 month notice after 20 years.    But landlords aren't necessarily thinking about how its not trivial for an elderly couple to find a new place in 1 month.     Have your parents asked for more time?    If the landlord is reasonable they might let them have a bit more time.   But there is no legal requirement for more than 1 month typically.

What state is it in?

eta: thread subject doesn't mean much.

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Even if the place hadnt been painted in long time. The walls would likely need to be cleaned prior to any new paint to remove smoke, however if the place hadnt been painted in the last few years+ itd probably have to be cleaned anyways. Its questionable, and they certainly can protest based on when place was last painted. Also if the latest landlord recently acquired the property then the smoke damage from the previous years was already existing and they assumed the condition it was in at time of purchase.

If $700 means the difference between buying or not, they probably shouldnt be buying.

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eGorka said:   Landlord is formally correct with the one month notice, but wouldn't it be considered inhuman or elderly discriminating to not give a more advanced notice?
  You can consider it whatever you want, it doesn't change the fact that the Landlord is formally correct.  That's why the requirements are based the formal contract, not individual opinions.

What state are you in?  Because while there's nothing requiring longer notice, they can simply not leave and force the landlord to go through the eviction process.  Of course, there's a number of other adverse consequences that could come from that strategy.

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Smoking inside will require a primer to seal the smell and stains before painting over. Sometimes may even have to seal it twice especially 20 years of smoking. Ever see a smoker unit walls, pretty nasty.


Nicotine from heavy smoking can penetrate through the paint and settle into the pores of drywall, leaving what seem permanent stains and odors, which can only be alleviated by repainting. You will have to clean and prepare the walls properly before you paint, to prevent the smoke and nicotine from bleeding through again. Wash the walls with an aggressive cleaner and then seal them with stain-blocking primer to ensure that stains don't creep through later. Apply two coats of top-quality latex paint to get the walls looking, and smelling, good again.

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$700 isn't bad to reverse smoke damage in a 2 bedroom even in a low cost labor area. Sorry your parents had to move but they apparently enjoyed inexpensive rents for 20 years. The LL didn't do anything wrong or illegal. Seems like the ones violating the lease were the tenants by smoking.

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eGorka said:   Now, my parents have had big unnecessary expenses, because of the notice, put them instead in search of temp housing. Landlord is formally correct with the one month notice, but wouldn't it be considered inhuman or elderly discriminating to not give a more advanced notice? 
  If you think it's so easy being a landlord, have them move in with YOU.

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I'd say they were pretty lucky to be able to retain the same apartment for 29 years!

I don't think a months notice is unfair, becaue presumably, the tenants also had the option to vacate the apartment with a months notice as well. If you want 12 months notice to vacate- put it in your lease. You're likely thinking about this emotionally because they're your parents and they're old.

You could always ask the landlord for another month.

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$700 is very cheap to mitigate 20 years worth of smoking for an efficiency let alone a 2-br.

Unless your state or locality has some special exemption for elderly or the lease violates state or local L&T rules, regulations or law, or there is a defect in the termination notice, the best they can do is negotiate to stay somewhat longer. The landlord, though, probably wants to get his expenses booked this year, so time is running short for that considering the work s/he will have to do.

Best is to find a new apartment ASAP and start packing and prepping for the move. There's rarely enough time to find and close on a purchase in 30 days, and that assumes that there are no glitches, credit or financing issues, inspection matters or anything else to delay closing.

You may wish to consult with a competent attorney if you believe there may be defects in the notice or your parents have suffered unnecessary expenses.

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If you're in Chicago you might be in luck because you can't evict in the winter there.

This probably isn't a disaster unless they're flat broke, though.  Yes, it's inconvenient, but worst-case, they put their stuff in storage and live in a hotel or an Airbnb for a while until they decide on permanent housing,

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TravelerMSY said:   If you're in Chicago you might be in luck because you can't evict in the winter there.

 

   I think this is incorrect information. Many people also falsely believe that evictions stop in the winter here in Wisconsin. Tenants are often surprised when they get served eviction notices here in the winter.

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cajundavid said:   
TravelerMSY said:   If you're in Chicago you might be in luck because you can't evict in the winter there.

 

   I think this is incorrect information. Many people also falsely believe that evictions stop in the winter here in Wisconsin. Tenants are often surprised when they get served eviction notices here in the winter.

  You could be correct. My knowledge of this is decades old, based in a friend with a chicago apartment who had to post a 6 month deposit due to winter rules.

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eGorka said:   My parents were planning on buying a house after this apartment,
  Really? The last thing most elderly folks want to deal with is yard work or home repairs, especially after 20 years of having that taken care of by a landlord.

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I think your parents need to move on. Getting out of an apartment they smoked in for 20 years for only $700 is pretty good! I think it's a reasonable fee considering the smoke /smell damage they did to the apartment. The landlord is following the law by giving them the 30 day notice.

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TravelerMSY said:   
cajundavid said:   
TravelerMSY said:   If you're in Chicago you might be in luck because you can't evict in the winter there.

 

   I think this is incorrect information. Many people also falsely believe that evictions stop in the winter here in Wisconsin. Tenants are often surprised when they get served eviction notices here in the winter.

  You could be correct. My knowledge of this is decades old, based in a friend with a chicago apartment who had to post a 6 month deposit due to winter rules.

  
Besides which, winter doesn't officially start until December 21, right?

Chris.

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Why don't you just suggest to your parents that they offer to accept a $200/month rent increase and that gets the landlord market rent without the hassles of rehabbing the entire place. That would give your parents a place while they look for a new place, either to buy or rent.

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If in CA, the tenants are always right in small claims court.

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Hi folks, sorry for delay and thanks to all for your suggestions and opinions!

Here's a few data points on this story

They live in Iowa. There was quite a few landlords on that property, and not all leases had restriction on smoking. Only my dad is smoker, there was not any burns (or any other damages in apartment) and btw dad switched to ecig few years ago, now he smokes a real cigarette maybe 3-4 in year. Also he using full tobacco flavor juice, which smell some time annoying for me too, I'm not smoker.

This is now old (1 month) story, they already moved to temp 6 months rent (different place), before they will move to their new house. As you know not many landlords want 6 month renters so it was cost them premium, usually 10% more per month. My parents are not to old, they are in their early 60s, both working and really like/want to spend some time gardening and managing their own place. For all these 20 years (except first 1-2 months) no any major fixes and repairs were done by landlords.

Their 1 month notice was signed on august 31. September 2nd my dad talked with the landlord on a different topic, landlord for some reason didn't tell him that letter is in the mail. Because of Labor day my parents received that notice on September 6, leaving them even less than month time to move. My dad right away called the landlord and actually asked to raise their rent, but give them 1-2 months extension. Landlord refused to give them even 1 day, because "workers already contracted and scheduled" to start working on October 1 st.

Statement says - seal all walls, floors, ceilings due to excessive smoke damage from years of cigarette smoking in the unit. 14 hours of labor and 25 gallons of SW Pro Block used. $675

At the end landlord also said to them - I'm not asking you to wash or paint walls, just remove all your belongings and vacuum the carpet, which they did. But if they had little more time, they of course will clean and repaint walls as they did themselves for many years.

I never said that landlord was legally wrong, and BTW if I been on his position I'll be did absolutely the same - eat 1 time expenses on renovation of that apartment and enjoy more cash flow from that place. But I'm sure I'll be doing this little in a more friendly way, understating that these folks were loyal to that place so many years.

Regards to all!

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As a landlord, I've cleaned apartments that had smokers in it. Told them to stop several times and they never did. It's not just painting walls, everything was covered in smoke, cabinets, refrigerator, windows, ceiling fans, smoke detectors. The smoke detector was yellow, after I washed it, it turned white again.

If you don't want to get kicked out with 30 days notice, don't rent. Also too late now, but in my state, they have to receive the notice 30 days before the next rental period so they need to get it August 31st, if they got it on the 6th, that would mean they had til October. Normally in order to do that, you have it served.

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You can .. wash a smoke detector?

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JaxFL said:   Even if the place hadnt been painted in long time. The walls would likely need to be cleaned prior to any new paint to remove smoke, however if the place hadnt been painted in the last few years+ itd probably have to be cleaned anyways. Its questionable, and they certainly can protest based on when place was last painted. Also if the latest landlord recently acquired the property then the smoke damage from the previous years was already existing and they assumed the condition it was in at time of purchase.

If $700 means the difference between buying or not, they probably shouldnt be buying.

I am not sure what POS paint will be applied on the walls. If that apartment was not painted for 20 years, it needs to be primed before another round of paint. That primer will definitely hide the worst smell of smoke from that place. OP, your parents are hosed.

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CowbellMaster said:   You can .. wash a smoke detector?
  I can buy a two pack at Lowes for $10 , battery included (but I always put in 10 year lithiums). not sure its a good idea to keep using a smoke detector thats been bathed in cig smoke
http://www.lowes.com/pd/First-Alert-2-Pack-Battery-Powered-9-Vol... 

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CowbellMaster said:   You can .. wash a smoke detector?
  
Yes, you can wash the exterior. Basically a damp cloth. While a smoke detector costs $13, it's also the time it takes to run to the store buy it and come back as opposed to just wiping the whole thing down. Also Gentex also makes smoke alarms where you can actually wash them. 

Smoke alarms are either photoelectric or ionization, in either event, it's smoke particles in a chamber that sets them off. As the smoke isn't actively in the chamber and it passes a self test, in theory it should still be good.

I put in the 10 year batteries in my exterior alarms but half the time the tenants end up taking the batteries out the alarm so I don't bother with them in the unit. 

Paint these days is pretty good, lots of paints claim that they're paint and primer in one. I spend money on good paint, it's cheaper to just pay for one coat in labor than for 2 coats of cheap paint.  

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eGorka said:   Their 1 month notice was signed on august 31. September 2nd my dad talked with the landlord on a different topic, landlord for some reason didn't tell him that letter is in the mail. Because of Labor day my parents received that notice on September 6, leaving them even less than month time to move. 

 

I'm sure it's 1 month from when you are actually notified. I can't go into a tenant and tell them I signed a notice a month ago (and sent it via donkey service from the Himalayas), why are you still here?

Other than that, the $700 does not seem too bad as you do admit they did smoke even when the leases specified otherwise...

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Ecuadorgr said:   ...
Other than that, the $700 does not seem too bad as you do admit they did smoke even when the leases specified otherwise...

  
Yes this.    

700 isn't much for 20+ years.    If smoking was allowed I could see it being wear and tear but they weren't allowed to smoke (some or most of the time).
Also if they were smoking against the rules then they could have been evicted for cause due to violating the lease which makes the 1 month notice better than what could have happened.
 

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I'm a little surprised the landlord didn't have to place an ozone machine in there. That's not uncommon to need a day or 2 to help draw out any remaining smoke odor.

If the landlord ended up replacing cabinets during the upgrades, that might explain why the ozone machine wasn't needed.

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atikovi said:   
eGorka said:   My parents were planning on buying a house after this apartment,
  Really? The last thing most elderly folks want to deal with is yard work or home repairs, especially after 20 years of having that taken care of by a landlord.

  
This.  My parents recently retired.  They're actively selling most of their belongings, a second property, then their primary residence after.  Once they sell everything off, they'll rent an apartment.   My in-laws aren't retired quite yet, but have basically the same plan in mind.  I think they'll end up staying in their house a little longer though as they've recently put some renovation costs into it that likely won't come back out at sale.  

 

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civ2k1 said:   I'm a little surprised the landlord didn't have to place an ozone machine in there. That's not uncommon to need a day or 2 to help draw out any remaining smoke odor.

If the landlord ended up replacing cabinets during the upgrades, that might explain why the ozone machine wasn't needed.

  I am surprised as some you commented as if this apartment was leased an year ago. The parents lived there for 20 years. When LL decided to evict them for renovation, I believe that reno includes complete painting and replacing cabinets. I just want to repeat it again, a good primer will block all smell/stain on the walls. An ozone machine may sound big deal but that things cost $50 in fleabay. besides two days of ozone exposure will do nothing eliminating smoke tar seating deep inside carpet.

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As a habitual renter, though I'd add my two cents: After 20 years of presumably happy renting, I'd be thrilled to get out of there with only a $700 damage charge, especially considering the smoking. Landlord is within the lease language as far as I can tell.

Data point for repainting charges: I'm allowed to paint the walls in my rental. There's no charge upon vacation as long as they don't require more than one coat of paint to flip the unit. IE, when I leave, I have to paint the walls white again. If they have to do primer, or more than one coat of paint to cover walls, there's a set charge of $500. This is a 1BR/1BA, roughly 800 sqft. I'd consider $700 fairly normal.

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delhel said:   
civ2k1 said:   I'm a little surprised the landlord didn't have to place an ozone machine in there. That's not uncommon to need a day or 2 to help draw out any remaining smoke odor.

If the landlord ended up replacing cabinets during the upgrades, that might explain why the ozone machine wasn't needed.

  I am surprised as some you commented as if this apartment was leased an year ago. The parents lived there for 20 years. When LL decided to evict them for renovation, I believe that reno includes complete painting and replacing cabinets. I just want to repeat it again, a good primer will block all smell/stain on the walls. An ozone machine may sound big deal but that things cost $50 in fleabay. besides two days of ozone exposure will do nothing eliminating smoke tar seating deep inside carpet.

  


The landlord cited "14 hours of labor and 25 gallons of SW Pro Block used. $675" 

Thats reasonable.    25 gallons of sherwin williams paint could run you $500-600.

So yeah all they did was put on a coat (or 2-3) of primer.

25 gallons seems like a lot of paint for an apartment.   Maybe I'm stingy on paint... but that seems like enough to paint 3-5 apartments to me.

ETA: I checked an online calculator.  Seems 1 gallon will roughly cover a 10'x10' room so 25 gallons is maybe 2 coats for a 1200 sq ft apartment or 3 coats on a ~800 sq ft.   
 

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jerosen said:   
delhel said:   
civ2k1 said:   I'm a little surprised the landlord didn't have to place an ozone machine in there. That's not uncommon to need a day or 2 to help draw out any remaining smoke odor.

If the landlord ended up replacing cabinets during the upgrades, that might explain why the ozone machine wasn't needed.

  I am surprised as some you commented as if this apartment was leased an year ago. The parents lived there for 20 years. When LL decided to evict them for renovation, I believe that reno includes complete painting and replacing cabinets. I just want to repeat it again, a good primer will block all smell/stain on the walls. An ozone machine may sound big deal but that things cost $50 in fleabay. besides two days of ozone exposure will do nothing eliminating smoke tar seating deep inside carpet.

  ...
25 gallons seems like a lot of paint for an apartment.   Maybe I'm stingy on paint... but that seems like enough to paint 3-5 apartments to me.

 

  
Depends on apartment size, no?  I've painted most of my apartment a couple times now.  It's ~830sqft, with quite a few windows and doors.  1BR/1BA.  I'd say I can do it all with 6-8 gallons of decent paint.  Assume a little larger apartment, some more walls, and a couple coats, and 25 gallons doesn't seem unreasonable.  

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Yeah 25 is a lot of paint. Probably cheap paint. I usually do it with just 6-8 gallons. But that's one coat. That could be primer plus two coats. But they could just tint the primer and then give it one coat.

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henry33 said:   But they could just tint the primer and then give it one coat.
 

i sure as hell wouldnt, for a 20+ year smoked-in house!

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people call landlords greedy for not wanting to subsidize the rent of strangers. it's pretty funny actually.

They also smoked for 20 years and that's now costing them 23 dollars a year- far less than the cigarettes cost and far less than the medical bills smoking causes will cost. seems odd to have no problem spending money on cigs and medical care, making your health worse in the process but to worry about 23 dollars a year for smoking.

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If your parents really needed the extra time, it would have probably behooved them to force the landlord to start the eviction process and then just move out a little later when it was convenient. If they did that, the landlord could have sued them for losses sustained during that period, but I doubt that would amount to much if they just moved out within a week or two. He probably wouldn't have bothered, especially if they paid a prorated rent for the period they overstayed.

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I'm on OP's side here. 20 years is more than the useful life of paint and carpet, so the landlord should have expected to replace those things anyway. And as JaxFL said, if the previous lease didn't prohibit smoking then the tenants didn't do anything wrong and the new landlord acquired the property with existing smoking-related damage.

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Fight for that $700. That's normal wear and tear fit an apartment that used to allow smoking.

And fight dirty. Tell them that $700 is coming back and you'll consider the damage and illegal eviction closed.

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eGorka said:   
They live in Iowa. There was quite a few landlords on that property, and not all leases had restriction on smoking. Only my dad is smoker, there was not any burns (or any other damages in apartment) and btw dad switched to ecig few years ago, now he smokes a real cigarette maybe 3-4 in year. Also he using full tobacco flavor juice, which smell some time annoying for me too, I'm not smoker.

 

  

I think the details here matter.      From above they had multiple landlords and not all leases banned smoking.

That could mean a lot of things.

Maybe they moved in and the original lease didn't ban smoking then 10 years later the property changed hands and a new landlord instituted a new lease that banned smoking.   That would be 10 years of smoking in a house that allowed it.     That would be a legit case for treating the smoking damage as normal wear and tear and not owing anything.   

But on the other hand what if the original lease or subsequent lease in the original few years didn't allow smoking.   Just a year or two of smoking in violation of the lease would cause that amount of damage and justify billing the tenants for it.  
 

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jerosen said:   
eGorka said:   
They live in Iowa. There was quite a few landlords on that property, and not all leases had restriction on smoking. Only my dad is smoker, there was not any burns (or any other damages in apartment) and btw dad switched to ecig few years ago, now he smokes a real cigarette maybe 3-4 in year. Also he using full tobacco flavor juice, which smell some time annoying for me too, I'm not smoker.

 

  

I think the details here matter.      From above they had multiple landlords and not all leases banned smoking.

That could mean a lot of things.

Maybe they moved in and the original lease didn't ban smoking then 10 years later the property changed hands and a new landlord instituted a new lease that banned smoking.   That would be 10 years of smoking in a house that allowed it.     That would be a legit case for treating the smoking damage as normal wear and tear and not owing anything.   

But on the other hand what if the original lease or subsequent lease in the original few years didn't allow smoking.   Just a year or two of smoking in violation of the lease would cause that amount of damage and justify billing the tenants for it.  

  Why does it matter if smoking was or wasn't allowed?  Plenty of things a tenant chooses to do can cause damage they're responsible for, even if they're technically allowed to do it.  Damage from smoking is not normal wear and tear, because the tenant must chose to smoke in order for there to be such damage.  Just like my deciding to cut my steaks with a chainsaw would leave me responsible for the damage to the countertops, even though my lease allows me to cut my steak however I choose.

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rated:
TravelerMSY said:   Wait until you see how he Sears them...
  flamethrower...FTW

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