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Clifford L. Tuttle Jr.
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Clifford Tuttle’s Answers

747 total


  • 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

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  • I signed a lease with friends but we changed our minds because of a better available house.

    I signed a lease with a few friends of mine and sent it to the landlord via mail. One of the assistants who received the letter emailed me back with more documents to sign, an agreement addendum and a cosigner agreement, as well as request for pay...

    Clifford’s Answer

    Send a written notice withdrawing your offer. Do it by certified and regular mail (two letters, 1 each). Note in the letter that you made an offer to rent by sending a signed lease but that the offer was not accepted because the offer sent a response requiring signature on an addendum and a cosigner agreement.

    Keep a copy of the letter plus all of the evidence of mailing.

    Under the "mailbox rule", your withdrawal of the offer is effective upon mailing. Mail it from the post office.

    You may need all of this evidence to defend your position if you are sued in court, which is very likely. It is not, of course, guaranteed that you will win. However, I think you should.

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

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  • How can I quickly remove my name from the mortgage on our present home to apply for a new home during divorce?

    My wife is pursuing a divorce and I have to purchase a new home. I have found a home and am pre-qualified for the mortgage contingent upon getting my name off the present home mortgage. She wants this house and I have no problem signing it over to...

    Clifford’s Answer

    Unfortunately, there is no quick way to get free of the mortgage obligation.

    The traditional way was for one spouse to convey the property by deed to to the other, paying off the existing mortgage. The spouse who keeps the property signs a new note and mortgage. This is necessary even when the withdrawing spouse gets no cash out of the deal.

    Although a few lenders have tried to expedite this process, it still requires a closing and document signing. Sorry, that's the way it is.

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

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  • Internet and TV service was included in the lease

    But now I am 1/2 month behind in my rent and my landlord indicates he is terminating the service. I recently lost my job and I of course am totally dependent on the internet in my job search. Does he have grounds to do this ?

    Clifford’s Answer

    • Selected as best answer

    Interesting question. Landlords are often turning off utilities as a means of self-help. When they involve heat, light and similar matters, this is considered a constructive eviction and can result in damages -- eventually, not immediately. TV and internet may not be considered necessities. I doubt if there is any case law involving TV and internet shut off. However, you may be able to make a case that internet is a necessity, since you are using it for job hunting. Internet is definitely a necessity for me, but TV is not.

    As a practical matter, you are going to have to make a deal. If you have someplace to move, perhaps you can agree to move out sooner than you might do otherwise in exchange for a turn-on of the internet. Or perhaps you can go to the library to use the computer. You must be doing something in this regard, since you reached me by internet.

    CLT

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  • Do we have a case against our home inspector. We had our home inspected in October and needed to have our roof replaced in March

    Home inspector came out to inspect our roof in October, wrote in the inspection report that the roof was in the second half of its life with mild curling. He also took no pictures of the roof. At the end of Feb we began to have leaks in our master...

    Clifford’s Answer

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    You need a lawyer to review the contract you signed with the home inspector and the insurance policy. Home inspection contracts often have exculpatory language which could relieve him of liability in many circumstances. The insurance company may be interpreting the policy language in a way that may not stand up in court.

    If you recently purchased the property (the usual reason for a home inspection) you may have a claim against the seller for failing to disclose. Look for tell-tale signs that the leaks may have existed and covered up with temporary fixes, including plastering and repainting the bedroom.

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

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  • I sent the tenants an eviction notice which they ignored and stopped paying their rent.

    The lease included the right for either the landlord or the tenant to break the lease with a 30 day notice. We went to court and won a judgment against the tenant. I need to know how to collect on the judgment.

    Clifford’s Answer

    You could garnish the tenant's wages, provided you know where the tenant lives and where the tenant works. The Prothonotary can provide forms.

    You could also garnish the tenant's bank account, provided you know where he/she banks.

    It may be wise for you to obtain the assistance of a lawyer who is familiar with the process involved.

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

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  • Notice to Quit to tenant on June 25, 2014- lease confirms tenant agrees to his rights, next step?

    I gave Notice to Quit to tenant on June 25, 2014 (delivery in person) due to no payment on April, May and now June rent. Series on bad checks and promises.Tenant assured me that they make April payment on 5/30, May payment on 6/15 and June payme...

    Clifford’s Answer

    You cannot evict them by self-help. You must file an action with the Magistrate, who will schedule a hearing at about the time they say they will leave.

    Although you cannot force them to leave on July 6, it may be a good idea to file with the Magistrate, since they may not keep their promise to move. Assuming that the Magistrate grants you possession (likely from the facts you recite) they will have 10 days to appeal. Assuming that they do not, you will have to obtain a writ of possession from the Magistrate, which will be served by the Constable. They then have 10 days to move out. On the eleventh day, the Constable will keep the peace while you change the locks.

    The writ of possession will probably contain a notice that the tenant has ten days to remove property or to request that the property be stored for 30 days. Confirm that by reading the writ. If the notice is not on the writ, you may give such notice yourself -- consult a lawyer before you do. If no request is made for an extension of time to remove property, you may have the right to dispose of the property after the lock out. However, I recommend you consult a lawyer to review the situation before you throw out a tenant's property. Even though you may have the right to dispose of property after eviction, I suggest you make an attempt to let them remove their property at a time convenient to both of you. It could save you a lawsuit and a lot of extra trouble.

    This is a very quick summary. If you need to know more, consult a lawyer with experience in landlord tenant matters.

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  • How do I file a countersuit against my landlord?

    My landlord is taking us to court for eviction for pet fees and various other charges. We want to challenge the amount we are being sued for. Is a countersuit the only way to do this? If we do file a countersuit, how do we add up charges against o...

    Clifford’s Answer

    You don't need to file a cross claim (that's what it is called in the Magistrate's Court) to challenge the amounts claimed against you. If you have a distinct claim against the landlord, other than denying the amounts they claim you owe, the magistrates office will give you a form to file a cross-claim. It doesn't sound as though you have such a claim. If you are still unsure, contact a lawyer.

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

    See question 
  • I rented a room verbally paid 200.00 cash in the last week of the month got evicted. can I take them to court to get money back

    verbal agreement paid cash

    Clifford’s Answer

    You haven't stated whether you were evicted through a magistrate or by force. You also haven't said when or how long you stayed in the room. If the eviction occurred through the magistrate, you are too late. If it was by force, you are going to have to pay filing fees of about $125.00 (each magistrate is different). And of course, there is risk. Is it worth risking $125.00 to get $200?

    Oral leases for a period less than 3 years are enforceable, but there are obvious problems. Your landlord will probably say that you and he agreed on a month-to- month lease and it would thus be over. And of course, you don't want to go back to live there. You might be able to get damages for a wrongful self-help eviction, but you are going to have to prove your case. I wouldn't recommend it, based upon the facts you are telling me.

    Clifford L Tuttle, Jr.
    Attorney at Law

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  • Can I be evicted for withholding rent for repair issues

    Have withheld one and half months rent do to ongoing requests for repairs and now landlord wants to evict before scheduled hearing date

    Clifford’s Answer

    It depends upon what is being repaired and how you notify the landlord.

    You may withhold rent for repairs that are necessary to make or keep the property habitable. You must give notice (written notice, since you must prove it) and the landlord must have a reasonable period of time to do the repairs and fail to do them. Unfortunately, there is no list of repairs that are necessary to make a property habitable and the specific facts of your case may determine the answer. For example, a broken furnace in winter is definitely a habitability problem. But broken air conditioning may or may not be. When you allege inhabitability, the burden of proof is on you.

    The problem, of course, in withholding rent is that you have to be willing to take the risk that the Magistrate may find against you. If that happens, and you believe you are right, you will need to appeal to Common Pleas Court quite promptly. I believe you should consult an attorney with experience in this field. Check the AVVO listings fore your county under "landlord and tenant".

    Eviction before the scheduled hearing date is another matter. The landlord cannot use "self help" to evict you. But if he does it, you probably will not get immediate help from the courts. If you are going to have any chance of avoiding a premature eviction, you definitely need an experienced lawyer.

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

    See question