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.
Q: I bought a house and am trying to get out of my lease that doesn’t end until July. I am moving in April. The landlord said he would try and rent out the apartment so I wouldn’t be stuck with the bill. They posted an add but it had been a month and I started to realize they aren’t calling anyone back. They won’t even call people I sent them from my own ad. Also, I woke up last April with my ceiling leaking. They did not fix the roof until November and my ceiling until this past February. I was unable to sleep in my room because it was unsafe. Is there any way I can sue for not being able to use my bedroom for almost a year? (Swissvale, PA)
A: There is a common-law principal of constructive eviction that allows you to not pay rent in proportion to the percentage of your property that you are by no fault of your own, “constructively evicted” from. In your case, if your bedroom is one-quarter of your apartment space, you could deduct one-quarter from your rental payment. Now, this does not always go over well with the landlord. You should be prepared to defend this in court. Photographs, copies of letters to the landlord memorializing your complaints would help your case if push comes to shove before a District Justice.
Q: My mom just let her grandson who is 45 move into her house. I told her don’t do it, not a good idea! She is 84 and has middle stage dementia (Alzheimer’s). She forgets from one moment to the next sometimes. She is of sound mind. I had to have an investigation for adult protective services because of my brother and nephew. It was unfounded. But how do you prove manipulation and coercion, etc. She raised her grandson so he has a hold on her. Myself and my husband have been helping her every day. She is still at home, but between us we would spend 5 hours a day at her house. My nephew is considered disabled and mentally ill. He says he couldn’t find an apartment. No one would rent to him. That’s because he has a record, has burnt his garage down, DUI, suicide attempts and the list goes on and on. I hardly have enough money to pay her bills every month. She had lost her husband a year-ago so her income reduced dramatically. Can I charge him rent being that I am her POA or does she need to make that decision? Her doctors won’t give me a statement saying she is unable to make decisions in her own best interest.
A: It may be an uphill battle. Your mother is still competent, albeit she has some dementia. As she is competent, even with the POA in place, she can still make all her own decisions. I understand your concerns. This grandson could potentially cause stress on her, may financially exploit her, and may be a detriment to her health. As her Agent on a POA, you can work to keep her money guarded. You can visit her banks, make sure the POA is on file and ask them to watch for suspicious financial activity like large withdrawals. You can explain the situation with the grandson. Also, if you feel the living environment is unhealthy, you can call Adult Protective Services and see if they will do a home visit and assess the situation. I would visit her as often as possible and monitor things before reacting.