We are willing to help tenants with the multitude of problems that can arise during their occupancy. In many situations, an amicable agreement can be reached through negotiations between parties with a minimal investment of time by our tenant law lawyers. Beyond exceptional service, we understand tenants are often constrained by a budget and we strive to deliver affordable service.
While the vast majority of times we can reach a satisfactory solution, sometimes taking a dispute to court may be required. Because of the experience and resources of the landlord, a tenant most likely needs more help than they realize.
Perhaps our greatest aid to tenants is “loss mitigation” where they are threatened by a several thousand dollar lawsuit or actually have a judgment against them from a magistrate. We often help dramatically reduce the damages and thus avoid a far worse situation.
What can a lawyer do?
On a very frequent basis we receive calls where the tenant has a bonafide problem but just cannot resolve it with the landlord. Since Kraemer, Manes & Associates LLC handles so many of these cases we are resolved to handle a case until completion. Since landlords know we will keep fighting, they with negotiate. That is how we are different than everyone else.
Does your lease have to be in writing to be protected under landlord tenant laws?
You may still be protected under Pennsylvania’s landlord tenant laws. In Pennsylvania, orals agreements between a landlord and tenant, even those that are never written down, generally constitute an enforceable lease so long as they are for a period of less than three years.
What if I never signed a lease?
Most oral leases expire at the end of your established payment period. For example, if you pay your landlord on a monthly basis, your lease is likely only a month long and automatically renews for an additional month each time you make another month’s rent payment. Because of this, you may end your lease at the end of each month. However, your landlord is still required to give you a month’s notice before ending your oral lease.
Can a landlord just kick you out before the lease is over?
No. If your lease has not yet ended a landlord may not demand you leave, unless the following happens. If you are violating your lease agreement the landlord must give you time to cure whatever is being done counter to the leased agreement. Only after you are given time to fix the defect in your lease agreement can the landlord pursue legal action to have you properly evicted. Even then, your landlord must show a court that what you are doing is “materially counter” to the lease agreement.
Does your landlord refuse to fix a problem in your house or apartment?
In Pennsylvania, rental properties must meet their municipality’s minimum construction, maintenance, and safety standards. This generally includes things such as having adequate water, heating, sewage/waste disposal, smoke detectors, windows and doors, and bathroom facilities. You are generally only entitled to pay a reduced rent if the property’s current condition interferes with your ability to live there and is not fixed for an extended period of time. Our experience is that while a landlord will ignore requests from a tenant, they will pay attention when an attorney contacts them.
What if I notified my landlord but he won’t return my calls?
First off, you are responsible for notifying your landlord of problems as they occur and your landlord is responsible for making repairs within a reasonable time frame of that notice. Your notifications should be in writing, preferably in an email. Regardless, you should keep detailed documentation of your repair requests. Our experience is that while a landlord will ignore requests from a tenant, they will pay attention when an attorney contacts them.
Am I on a month to month lease?
For example, if you, the tenant, pay your landlord on a monthly basis you likely have a month long lease that automatically renews each month when you make your next payment. What this means is you can end your lease at the end of each month. However, through an interesting twist, in an oral monthly lease the landlord must still give you a month’s notice before ending the lease. If you have any questions about the nature of your oral lease do not hesitate to call our office.
Can I get my security deposit back?
It depends. If there is damage to your house or apartment that is your fault, the landlord is entitled to take some of the security deposit to fix that problem. If the landlord does use some of the security deposit money they must give you a reason in an itemized list as to why they had to use that money. If the landlord does not use the money to fix damaged property they must return your security deposit to you in 30 days after ending your lease. Typically you must provide your landlord with a means of returning that check to you, whether in person or a new address to which the security deposit must be sent.
Do I still owe rent if something breaks on the leased property and the landlord does not fix it?
It depends on the facts of the situation. There is a concept called the “Warranty of Habitability” which says you are entitled to a reeducation in rent something breaks if it makes it difficult to live there in the current condition. This is a rather high standard and is often not met. In sum, it depends on what broke, when the landlord was notified, and for how long the condition lasted.
For example, a giant hole in the roof over your bedroom that allows the rain to pour into your apartment would likely be a reason to at least lower your rent; while a dripping faucet is not likely.
You are only entitled to pay no rent or lower rent if you landlord does not fix the broken property over a long period of time. Should your landlord immediately fix the broken property, you are not entitled to a lowered rent. Such issues are case specific and depend largely on the facts.
Can my landlord enter my leased property whenever they want?
No. Your landlord is not allowed to enter the property merely because they are the owner of the property. By paying rent, though you are not the owner of the property, you have paid for the right of privacy of the property. If your landlord needs to enter your property to fix something, show the property to a possible new renter, or other emergency reasons, they must provide you, the tenant, with ample warning and seek your consent. Written leases can often deal with this subject in different and unique ways. If your landlord is not abiding by your right to privacy you may be legally entitled to stop this.
If you feel like you are being denied your rights as a tenant, do not hesitate to call our office at (412) 626-5626.