Can we get brother’s girlfriend out of the house?

Q: Our mom died and left the house to her children. The house is in the name of the three kids and we live there. My brother left the house. Unfortunately for my sister and I, he left his mentally unstable girlfriend in the house. We want her out. Now. We were thinking of locking her out and leaving her stuff under the carport for her to pick up. Someone said this may not be legal. (Swissvale, PA)

A: If she has been living there for a period of time with your consent, she may have developed rights as a month to month tenant under landlord tenant law. Therefore, you may have to evict her by filing a complaint at the local District Justice. You may want to call your local District Justice about this. They handle many evictions and may have some advice or at a minimum tell you what you need to do to start an eviction.

Am I responsible for rent if I move out of home?

Q: My husband and I rent a home and both of our names are on the lease. Our situation isn’t the best at this time, so I am wondering should I move out of this rented home am I still liable to pay on the rent since my name is on the lease? (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: Yes. Look at your lease. Most likely you and your husband are listed as jointly and severally liable which means if one tenant doesn’t pay, the other tenant is liable for the entire lease payment. If you feel you are heading for divorce, you should make an appointment with a family lawyer for a consultation.

Can my boyfriend just throw me out of the apartment?

Q: He asked me to move in with him. I moved out of my apartment and in with him 5 years ago. But sometimes we have issues because his grown daughter & sister are living with us. It’s been up & down putting a strain on our relationship. He has threatened to put me out if he wants to. Can he do that? (Munhall, PA)

A: If this is a lease and you are on it with him, he cannot throw you out. If he is on the lease only or owns the house, he must follow the law and evict you through the court process. If you have invested any money in his home or apartment, you may have a claim but would need to review this with an attorney.

What happens to lease when rental property with tenants is sold?

Q: We are looking to purchase a single-family home that is currently occupied by renters. (college students) The current lease expires 25 July. What happens to this lease if we buy property in March? Is lease still enforceable until July? Does lease go with house? Or is it null in void at time of sale since landlord of record is no longer owner? We would like to have lease continue, as the rental money was part of our buying decision, just not sure of the legality.(Pittsburgh, PA)

A: What does your sales agreement with the seller say on this? Language addressing the renters should be included in the sales agreement, normally referred to as assignability. Also, what does the lease agreement between the current owner and the tenants say regarding a sale of the premises, if anything? If you don’t want them to remain, and they have no lease, they are month-to-month tenants and you are probably stuck with them 30 days. If you want them to remain, and they feel the same, the lease will be honored unless the sales agreement and lease state to the contrary. Most leases and most sales agreements have language which addresses assignability of the lease.

Is there a time limit on notice to vacate to a landlord?

Q: I had a one-year lease for which the contract states I must give 60-days’ notice if I intend not to renew. I thought I needed to give 30 days-notice. I purchased a home and informed my landlord I was not renewing. I gave him over 30-days-notice and he won’t release me, says I must pay the full years rent. Do I have any options? (Swissvale, PA)

A: If it was written in the lease, you agreed to it and therefore are bound to give 60 days-notice. However, with your notice, although only 30 days or so, the land lord has a duty to mitigate by finding another tenant and preparing the apartment to rent. He has a strict legal duty to find another tenant as soon as reasonably possible. He just can’t sit back and expect to collect the balance of the lease contract. I would continue to move. Demand a return of your deposit in writing by certified mail stating your new address. He will settle with you or sue you. If you go to court, he will not likely get a judgment of the balance of the rent.

Mom and I are on the lease. What if she dies?

Q: I take care of my elderly mother and we are both on the lease and both contribute to the rent. If she were to die I wouldn’t be able to afford the rent by myself. If a co-leaser dies, is the other person responsible for paying the rent on the remainder of the lease or is there an option to break it? (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: The answer should be contained in the lease which likely contains joint and several language. Generally, each person on the lease is independently liable for the entire lease amount if the other tenant fails to pay. If your mother’s health is precarious, you may want to reach out to the landlord and inform him of your situation.

Must I give my landlord 30-day notice with no lease?

Q: Responding to a Craigslist ad, I verbally agreed to rent a room and split utilities with an existing lease holder for the remainder of their lease (6 months). Additionally, I paid a security deposit to the lease holder who in turn passed it to the landlord. No lease, or contract was signed. After 45 days the lease holder gave 30 days-notice that they were moving out. I asked the landlord for terms and/or a lease which I could consider. 10 days passed without any terms or lease provided. At this point I informed the landlord my intentions to move out. They are demanding 30 days-notice, which I reluctantly agreed to via an email while asking for the possibility of pro-rating the upcoming month’s rent. (5 days) The landlord became irate and demanded I adhere to at-will tenancy laws, which were not cited, and I have not been able to find/review myself. What are my options? (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: Generally, with no written will in place, a verbal lease agreement requires thirty (30) days-notice from bother parties.

Am I obligated to pay as sub lessor?

Q: I was renting a commercial building for automotive repair. I have 4 bays and 2 separate sides. For the first year I used only 2 bays on one side. The other side was leased by different people. That side lease was up, and they moved out. I knew a mechanic that wanted to start a business. I recommend them for the other side. I asked the landlord for 2 leases, but he insisted and put it all under me. The guys next door paid $1,400 and so did I. Almost a year goes by and now it’s almost the first of the year. I’m on holiday break with my family and I stop past the shop and they are no longer there. They emptied the shop without paying December rent. I do not have $1,400 for their side, but I have paid for mine. The landlord is upset of course, so am I. Because I was completely blindsided about them leaving. They told the landlord they would pay then they didn’t. What can I do? They were still working there in December. The landlord wants the money from me. If I am evicted do I still have to pay the remaining rent?

A:  It may be worth having your lease read by an attorney. If the lease has specific language to constitute a sublease which obligates you as payor, you may be liable. However, it appears you have been a good tenant and landlords do not like to lose tenants. There are reasons to keep you as a tenant which your landlord is aware of and if you are liable he should be willing to enter into a payment agreement with you.

Can I take my landlord to court for not refunding my security deposit?

Q: I only received $535 of my $2635 security deposit. I was charged for fantasy damage with no receipts to back up the work. I was charged for work not specified in the lease (such as cleaning) and just outright crazy charges ($75 for lightbulbs!). Can I take them to small claims court? (Oakmont, PA)

A: Yes, you can file at the District Justice level for return of your security deposit. Make your you have notified your landlord in writing that you demand the full return of your security deposit and provide him with your new address. I would send the letter both certified mail, return receipt, and regular mail. When you file your complaint, ask for filing fees and lawyer fees to be awarded if you hire a lawyer.

Medicaid and elder law question?

Q: I have been renting a room in an apartment from the apartment’s tenant/leaseholder. The leaseholder is now applying for Medicaid– and to show that there is a roommate (someone who is staying in one of her rooms and paying for that room), the leaseholder is submitting my name, address as well as my phone number in her Medicaid application process. (We are not related.) I guess my information would be listed in her file and I was wondering what implications there might be for me. Would Medicaid contact me for any reason? Would they request more information from me? Would I have the right to ask the leaseholder not to submit my information? Thank you in advance for your help. (Brentwood, PA)

A: Medicaid is just trying to verify her income. Medicaid likely is not interested in your personal information other than the amount of rent you pay and perhaps how long your lease is. Unless you are in the witness protection program, on the lamb for child support or back taxes or a fugitive of some sort, you should help her out.