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Clifford L. Tuttle
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Clifford Tuttle’s Answers

746 total


  • Landlord trying to evict for roaches found 9 months AFTER I moved in

    My apartment had an infestation. No idea where they came from I have lived here for 9 months and never saw any. They came to exterminate. My apartment had the most (ground floor above basement) not only have they been verbally abusive they are now...

    Clifford’s Answer

    Absolutely you have a chance!

    The landlord has a duty to provide you with a habitable apartment. Your landlord has it backwards. He has the duty to eradicate the roaches. Assuming that he cannot prove that you are the source of the infestation, he cannot evict you.

    I suggest you find a lawyer who has some landlord-tenant experience. Tell him that I told you that this case is governed by the rule in Pugh v Holmes, 486 Pa. 272, 405 A.2d 897 (1979).

    Clifford L. Tuttle, Jr.
    Attorney at Law
    Pittsburgh, PA

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  • Evicting a tenant who has no bank account

    I was going to evict my tenant and now they say they are moving out Aug 25. They owe for July and August rent, June July August water bill, and damage to the apartment. They do not have a bank account and I was wondering if I sue them how will I ...

    Clifford’s Answer

    Do you have employment information? If you do and it is up to date, you may be able to garnish wages. However, they must earn more than the income guidelines that are based on the number of people in the household. The Prothonotary's office can help you with that. And, of course, you must have a judgment.

    You are going to have to give them a letter within 30 days after move out on the disposition of the security deposit. You can apply the rent against the security deposit and demand the rest (rent and security deposit) in the letter. Then you can sue -- make sure you have their new address) and get a judgment from the magistrate. After the appeal period has expired, you can file a certified copy (you get one from the magistrate if you ask) with the prothonotary. The prothonotary will supply you with forms and explain the process. It will cost you some filing fees and sheriff service fees, which you can recoup in the garnishment.

    You will get payments not to exceed 10% of the tenant's paycheck. So it might take a while to collect it all.

    Clifford L. Tuttle, Jr.
    Attorney at Law
    Pittsburgh, PA

    See question 
  • Can I request a foreclosure? I lease a house The tenant is always late with the payments,and i am fined by the city .

    for lawn care And snow removal.

    Clifford’s Answer

    You might try to offer a deed in lieu of foreclosure and see what happens. They will probably ask for financials and may expect you to pay all of the taxes, as well as the City fines.

    However, there is a very simple way to do it. Become over 90 days delinquent and you will get your wish.

    While this might work, on a commercial property you might face a petition for a deficiency judgment. This can be made within 6 months following the sheriff sale. The plaintiff would have to produce an appraisal that shows that the property has a value less than the debt. Of course, you can fight this, but you would probably need to obtain your own appraisal to win.

    A more reliable solution may be to do the repairs and sell the property. Or, evict the tenant and get a better one.

    Any way you go, there is no cheap and easy solution.

    Clifford L. Tuttle, Jr
    Attorney at Law
    Pittsburgh, PA

    See question 
  • My lease states that I must maintain or replace the appliances am I allowed to take the appliances when I move

    My lease states that I must maintain or replace the appliances. The stove top and oven were not working properly, so I replaced them and a new refrigerator since the appliances were from 1962. I have just recently gave a 30 day notice to quit and ...

    Clifford’s Answer

    If you remove the appliances, do not be surprised if your landlord keeps the security deposit and perhaps sues you for an amount over the security deposit to recoup the value of the appliances.

    Assuming that the lease does not contain additional relevant provisions, I think that, from your perspective, this issue is worth litigating. However, be aware that the outcome is uncertain. The magistrate does not have the power to order you to return the appliances, but he may be inclined to award damages to the landlord.

    Your argument under the lease language is that, if you replaced the malfunctioning appliances, the landlord may not not required to pay anything to repair or replace them during the term of the lease. But once the lease is over you can take them because they are yours.

    During the lease term, he doesn't have to do anything or spend any money. But after the lease term, you argue to the magistrate, the landlord has to provide new appliances for the next tenant.

    You argue that it is unfair to force you to enrich your landlord, especially when the appliances he provided were at the end of their lifetime when you moved in. I hope that you have proof of purchase, such as checks , credit card receipts, or bills of sale. If not, get them.

    The landlord, on the other hand, may argue that the stove top and oven are "fixtures" -- physically attached to the real estate. Thus, under the law, they became part of the real estate and you cannot remove them. He may win on that argument. However, a refrigerator is not usually built in and therefore cannot be considered a fixture.

    Another thought: if the stovetop and/or oven are sitting in the basement, you could re-install them. Thus, you would leave these items in the exact condition you found them.

    One other risk. Whoever loses a case like this may be inclined to appeal. Thus, you could find yourself arguing the case over again to a panel of arbitrators. In addition, either party could appeal to a judge after that. This will cost court fees, time and perhaps attorneys fees. In a case like this expect the landlord to appeal if you win because of the interesting legal question involved.

    Clifford L. Tuttle, Jr.
    Attorney at Law
    Pittsburgh, PA

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  • What does a non refundable pet deposit at a rental cover? What does a monthly pet fee at a rental cover?

    We just moved out of our townhouse and they had to shampoo the carpet due to my dog having a few accidents. I paid a $300 pet deposit upon move in and a two month pet fees (one $15, the other $25). In total I paid $940 for my pets to live in the ...

    Clifford’s Answer

    Read the lease, plus any pet rider. However, I am betting that the extra money you paid is not going to be applied to the carpet cleaning. You probably paid for the privilege of having a dog during the lease term. But don't take my word for it -- read the lease and addendum.

    Clifford L. Tuttle, Jr.
    Attorney at Law
    Pittsburgh, PA

    See question 
  • Lease in pa should have the correct amount in the lease not a fictitious amount with a discount for on time pay ?

    my new property manager wants me to sign a lease that says my rent is 410 per month and I get a discount of 50 for on time payment. My rent IS 360 per month and I am never late . I realize she may charge late fees but if I sign that rent is 410 th...

    Clifford’s Answer

    There is a common fallacy that late charges are not allowed in Pennsylvania because they constitute a penalty, which is not favored by the law. Assuming the late charge is a reasonable amount, this is not true. This method is supposed to be a work around the so-called penalty rule. It is unnecessary but harmless.

    A fifty dollar late charge per month is common and I have never seen such an amount disallowed as excessive. I have seen penalties of $100/day in a few leases. If I represent the landlord, I might claim only $50 per month despite the lease language, since we are likely to get nothing otherwise.

    Is there something in signing a new lease for you? If not, you don't have to sign a new one until your existing lease expires. However, a lease extension at the same rate through a new lease may be to your benefit, since the landlord might raise the rent when the lease expires. If you are planning to leave when the lease expires, don't sign. If you want to stay, maybe you should sign.

    Clifford L Tuttle, Jr
    Attorney at Law
    Pittsburgh, PA

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  • Phila Pa. lease expires July 31 2014. Can I immediately file to evict or do I have to give 15 days notice?

    I live on the upstairs unit. I am not renewing the lease. They have changed the locks without giving me a key, they have made holes in the ceiling and have told me to use the security deposit as he last month's rent. (I did not collect last month'...

    Clifford’s Answer

    I assume that you have a written lease. Some leases contain waivers of notice, some do not. Some contain automatic renewal provisions, too. Read the lease.

    Assuming you have such a waiver and the lease did not automatically renew, you can file for eviction with the magistrate (or whatever the Philadelphia minor court judges are called) as soon as the term expires.

    The security deposit doesn't come into play until they actually move out and you do an inspection. Claim the unpaid month's rent.

    Clifford L. Tuttle, Jr.
    Attorney at Law
    Pittsburgh, PA

    See question 
  • I need to know how to handle this landlord problem.

    my god father(whos a people pleaser,, wont speak up or anything b/c hes scared), landlady is trying to control him and his life, now that ive moved in with him is pushing lot on me. she wont repair anything. she will call him any tim...

    Clifford’s Answer

    Send her a letter requesting that she perform any work that is making the place uninhabitable. Give a reasonable deadline. Send the letter both by certified mail and regular mail. And, of course, keep a copy.

    Check your lease and see when it ends and what, if anything, you need to do to make sure it doesn't automatically renew.

    Plan to get out of there. There is no legal way to keep your landlady from bossing around you godfather. Find a better place with a better landlord.

    You have no obligation to replace the tiles in the kitchen and bathroom. You are going to gave to just say no.

    Clifford L Tuttle, Jr
    Attorney at Law

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  • Joint lease

    i was having a joint lease with four of my roommate. after i move out yesterday, my roommate told me that i have to take responsibility for almost the whole house damages which most of it were not belongs to me. she told me that if i do not pay fo...

    Clifford’s Answer

    Sorry to break the bad news. You are liable for the whole amount. So is she and the others. The landlord doesn't have to sue you all, she can sue any one of you.

    More bad news, under the Magisterial District Judge Rules of Court, you cannot join them in the case if you are sued. You have to sue them separately for contribution after you have lost (Philadelphia may have additional Rules, check with a local lawyer).

    In addition, if you take on new roommates, and you are all sued someday in the future, they may try to defend on the grounds that the damage was done before the arrived. Then there is the problem of collecting.

    These really good reason not to sign a joint lease. Don't do it next time.

    Clifford L. Tuttle, Jr.
    Attorney at Law
    Pittsburgh, PA

    See question 
  • Can a clause extend how long a LL has to return a security deposit?

    I moved out of an apartment early due to a job offering which required me to move out of state. At the time I moved out, I had paid all rent due to the end of the lease. My lease has a clause that says "If the tenant leaves the apartment...

    Clifford’s Answer

    The Landlord and Tenant Act also states that the provisions relating to return of security deposit cannot be waived. In my opinion, that contract provision cannot be enforced.

    Clifford L. Tuttle, Jr.
    Attorney at Law
    Pittsburgh, PA

    See question