Q: If a single father is sent to jail for 6 months, is it legal for his 16-year-old son to continue to live alone at the home they rented? Does the child need to be emancipated? Are there any legal/liability implications for the landlord in this situation? (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: The child is still a minor and therefore is without proper supervision or control of an adult. This would constitute “neglect” under the Juvenile Act. This probably should be brought to the attention of the police or CYF. They will likely place him with a relative or friend of the family and if none are available, place him in shelter until he could be placed in foster care. A “mandated reporter” would have a duty to notify CYF or the police of a minor in such a situation. As a landlord, I do not think you are a mandated reporter. However, given the well-being of the child, it would be wise to notify CYF or the police. If you want to go above and beyond, you can reach out to his family to see if someone can take him in or someone can live in the apartment until his father is released.
Q: I am looking to move in with my brother and my Aunt. My brother and my aunt live in my grandfather’s old house. My father and my aunt purchased it from the estate, and each owns half of the house. My Aunt does not take care of herself or the house. She will let trash accumulate. She has problems walking and refuses to see a doctor. Anytime we try to intervene or get her to change she said we are intruding on her personal rights and if she wants to live like a slob she has the right to. If she were to require serious medical attention through the emergency room or if she were to pass away, I am concerned my brother, or I could be held legally responsible for her? We are in our 30s. She is in her mid-60s. (Elizabeth, PA)
A: You have no duty to care for her if you are not living with her. However, if you move in to her home, you become a household member and could be liable for neglect or abuse if you do not seek help for her if she needs of medical treatment or is injured.
Q: My mother, who is very ill would like to hire a family member as a live-in caregiver. Her husband does not want them there. Does he have the right to deny her a live-in caregiver? (Carrick, PA)
A: These are complicated situations. If your mother’s husband is a sole owner or owns the house with your mother, he can bar you or a caregiver from entry. If you feel your mother is being neglected or abused, you can call the Department of Aging of Allegheny County and see if they will investigate. If her husband becomes more obstinate, you may want to consider filing in court to be her guardian. I recommend a consultation with an elder law attorney.