Tag Archives: LEASE

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.

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.

Can a landlord split the water bill?

Q: Can my landlord of our duplex have the tenants split the water bill when there is one meter in the building? My water is included in my rent. (Penn Hills, PA)

A: As stated, if water is included in your rent, and you agreed to that term when you signed the lease, I do not see the landlord as having a problem. It might be different if you agreed to “split” or “share” the actual water bill and the other tenant is a water hog, using much more than you. Even if obligated by the lease, you may have a fairness argument, for what it would be worth.

What rights and options do we have?

Q: Landlord died, no will, I have lived there for eight years, cousin got involved with an attorney so he says, and won’t give me a receipt for this month’s rent. What rights and options do we have as renters from this point on?

A: Your rights will be stated in your written lease. If you don’t have a lease, or no current lease, your tenancy is month to month and you could be required to move with as little as thirty days of notice to you. Pay with a check, not cash. The check is your receipt.

When I sell, can the new owner get a more fair- market rent from my current tenants?

Q: I own property and buildings that I want to sell. The problem is, I have a business tenant on my property who has a long-term lease but only pays $1.00 per YEAR in rent. Obviously, no one is going to buy the property with a lease like that in place. Can a new owner claim market unfairness in such a lease and get the tenants to pay a fair market rent? If not, then I will never be able to sell my property in my lifetime. Surely, there would be some legal remedy for a new owner? (McDonald, PA)

A: You need to have the lease reviewed by an attorney to determine if it can be challenged. If you inherited this tenant when you bought the property, you need to have your sales agreement checked to see if this lease contract was assignable or even mentioned. If he has as lock tight agreement, you may need to buy him out. I would have to research if there is any common-law limit on the number of years a lease like this can be legally in effect.

Can a Landlord evict a Tenant for smoking inside the unit?

Q: I was told the tenant only smoked outside, not in the house. Found out that isn’t true. Is there anything I can do about this? I rent to a woman (A) who I was told is a smoker, but ONLY outside the premises. Her AA sponsor, we’ll call her (B), is financially responsible person for the lease and (A) is the only tenant. (A) has been in the house a few days and I discovered ashtrays filled with cigarettes during a service call. I called (B) and questioned the smoking and (B) said (A) smoked outside when (A) lived with (B), because (B) is allergic to smoke. I felt deceived. I trusted (B’s) statement. (A) is mad because she feels she pays rent/utilities and it is HER house and she can smoke if she wants. How can I go back to the “No Smoking” rule in the house, when it was a verbal statement, not in the lease? If (A) is paying (B) money for the rent that is subletting and not allowed by lease. What should I do?

A:   If the lease is with A or B and the smoking prohibition is not in the lease, you may have a problem evicting based upon a breach of contract or violation of the lease. You saying that you were told that A only smokes outside doesn’t really help as A apparently never made a verbal promise to you. Even if A told you directly, a court may view the lease contract as superseding any verbal statements. I would send her a letter by certified mail informing her that she is not to smoke inside the unit and will be held accountable for all damages including carpet, drapery and fabric cleaning and painting and any other treatments are needed to get rid of smoke. Inform her that damages will be taken from her security deposit and she will be sued if there is a balance owed. Perhaps this will cause a change in her smoking habits. If you really cannot tolerate the smoke, which is understandable, go through with the eviction process with the understanding you may lose money on this deal.

How do we break my brother’s lease?

Q: Our brother will be hospitalized for over a year due to total blindness. How can we get him out of his lease with 7 months remaining on the lease. He has to be hospitalized in another city for total rehabilitation. He is totally blind with frontal lobe tram.

A: Of course I would need to check your lease to give you more certain advice. However, I can advise generally. You would need to immediately notify the landlord in writing. Tell him that your brother has vacated the apartment on a certain date, and that you want the security deposit back. I would send this certified mail, with your brother’s new address on it. Even though you are breaching the lease the landlord has a duty to find a new tenant ASAP to limit his damages. If the landlord sues your brother at the District Justice level, he will need to show his efforts to mitigate his damages by advertising for a new tenant. In addition, vacate and clean the apartment as soon as possible and photograph everything. Unless he can show difficulty in finding a replacement tenant, your damages will be mitigated.