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Landlord wants me to move into basement apt to allow a friend to live in my apt, do I HAVE to move?

Wilkes Barre, PA |

I've been living here, since April, 2012, with originally a month-to-month lease, changed in Dec to a 2 year lease, (to help them save the farm from foreclosure-which they didn't tell me about, but which I helped them with when I found out in Nov-I found them an attorney, helped with their paperwork, assisted them in finding other financial help so they wouldn't leave. I also dealt with leaks, etc for 6 months.) They helped me move last year, and I wanted to help them in return. Not to mention, being legally blind & many other health problems means a LOT of $$ to move.
I pay over $1000/mo, got this apt specifically for the deck & windows. She now has basically said "we're going to help you move downstairs because X really wants this apt, get things ready by July 1." Can she do this?

Just for more info: I have not violated ANY terms of lease, I AM legally blind and DO have many health problems, BUT, the stairs have NEVER been a problem for me. But with a terrible allergy to mold and mildew, moving down to a basement apartment, surely wouldn't be healthy. She DID say that another reason for her moving me downstairs was for my safety, but in almost 15 months, there hasn't been a single problem. Could this be a "legal" reason for her to justify moving me?

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Attorney answers 3

Best Answer
Posted

Dear Wilkes Barre tenant:

I am an attorney licensed to practice in New York. I do not practice law in Pennsylvania.

You seem terribly reasonable perhaps to your own detriment. Basement apartments are not often legal for dwelling purposes, so you absolutely must have the basement apartment inspected for toxicity and legality.

You may have special rights as a person with a disability to a special accommodation by your landlord. Those rights first flow from federal law and most states have adapted their own versions of laws that require landlords to provide reasonable accommodations in housing to persons with special needs.

Your landlord at a minimum must provide a proper notice pursuant to state law. In essence she is terminating the two year lease you made in December illegally. The illegal termination of the two year lease that helped them save the farm is also possibly mortgage fraud. You were important to the owners when useful but they do not consider that you are needed much any more.

You will need an attorney to protect your tenancy rights and your two year lease.

Good luck.

The answer provided to you is in the nature of general information. The general proposition being that you should try to avoid a bad outcome if you can.

Asker

Posted

Thank you so much. You can see further comments below the other gentleman that responded. My concern with my disability-because she brought that up today, saying this is for my "safety", was: could she force me to move down there FOR that reason? Although I haven't had ANY problems with the stairs, (and, on days that I'm not feeling "stable", and have no reason to go downstairs, having the deck and sunroom have been a godsend-AND the primary reason I rented this apartment.), but today, and about 5 minutes ago, she said "you have to understand, I'm concerned about your safety and my liability. This is best for you.". At 54 and having physical challenges for the past 15 years, I believe *I* know my capabilities and restrictions quite well. But, if she took this to court, (if she can even do that), they could possibly show reasons based on my prognosis where stairs *could* be a problem. I don't want to "fight" her, as I say below. But I will if I have to. The cost in me moving, even finding a decent, affordable apt in this area, is more hassle than I'm willing to put myself and my family, (who would have to help financially), through AGAIN this year. Thank you all for your responses. I'll try talking to her AGAIN tomorrow. If she insists on "moving you downstairs", I'll contact legal aid in the morning. Hopefully, they'll have someone that can help me. (Unlike last year when they told me they didn't have any L-T. attorneys in this area. The "joys" of a very small town ;)

Steven Warren Smollens

Steven Warren Smollens

Posted

OK. I understand. It may not be viewed as an accommodation since you did not request the move and the landlord wants you to move to move in another tenant 'X'. Also, the basement may not be legal as a dwelling, and once moved to the basement you could be evicted by the municipality. Also, the landlord is breaking your two year lease by forcing you from your home. You were wise enough to gain the money that saved the farm by showing a potential income from a two year rental but having served the purpose you are not needed. See a lawyer. Good luck.

Asker

Posted

I'm hoping not to have to go as far as the basement being "illegal". Although it may well BE "illegal", the last 3 "inspectors" in this town were finally fired after years of passing off both Section 8 housing and regular rentals as "legal" when they clearly were not. My prior apt of 8 years: asbestos, my living room ceiling & part of the roof were on my floor and furniture for 3 years, I had "pet bats", I was somehow able to get rid of the rats & mice, but not the termites "pine ants that were munching on my floors and living room walls, I had no refrigerator twice, for 4 months and got "cited" by the local cops for hanging food, in bags, out my windows-it was a cold winter luckily..before my supposedly cancer-ridden landlord sold the property and the new owners had it "inspected" by someone from Scranton who gave my 48hrs, (actually he wanted me out THEN, but I would have lost everything & had nowhere to go), to get out because he said the building was "completely inhabitable" and likely had been for many years. My present landlord couldn't understand why I didn't sue, but this is a VERY small town, and whether it would be him-or her & her husband; it would NOT be good for me to "sue" ANYONE in town. If I could afford to move, I would. But my kids are overseas, my parents in their 90's & in Fl. They can't afford another mess like last year. Unfortunately, my landlord is well aware of that. I spent over 2 months on paperwork, phone calls, going with them to meetings, getting her assistance with her medications, and him, qualified for some tax subsidies and other assistance-plus getting approval for the restructuring of the mortgage. My family & I helped them by making repairs they couldn't afford. Then, a month ago, she and her friend, the new tenant, went on a $10K shopping spree, including a new $2500 greenhouse that blew away and broke apart a day later. I told her shortly after that that I could no longer afford to help with her food and repairs. I have to wonder if that isn't what precipitated this. If I can't get help with an atty here in this town, I'll try and figure out if I can get transportation to Scranton. Thank you for your assistance!

Posted

I don't practice in your state , but from what you have said a move would have to be voluntary. You should ask her why you should move and what concessions will they make ? lower rent for example. Otherwise your lease sounds as if it describes your existing unit and not the basement.
Good Luck

If this answer was helpful, please mark as helpful below. Please be sure to indicate the best answer Only If and until you and I sign an Agreement for Legal Services, I am not your attorney. These answers are provided for informational and/or novelty purposes

Asker

Posted

She stated, several days ago when she originally told me she was moving me downstairs, that it was because the new tenant-who now lives in the basement apt and apparently was a friend of hers-wants MY apartment. And she said that since this person is helping her out on the farm, and I'm not, (THAT is NOT ANYWHERE in the lease, and she was fully aware of my health problems and inability to "help on the farm" when I moved in 14 months ago), that she "owes it" to this person to let her move up here. I'll be honest, the whole reason I chose this apt was the sunroom and deck. She knows this, but said she would "feel more comfortable" if I was in the basement, (only partially "finished, only 2 basement windows), just TODAY, because of my health. I'm concerned that if I say "no", then despite everything I've done, she will attempt to evict me-KNOWING I can't afford to move. With the 2 year lease, on THIS apt, can I refuse to move, and can she evict me for that?

Shawn B Alexander

Shawn B Alexander

Posted

No

Asker

Posted

PS. While the rent would be $100 lower, it would not include the Internet connection now included in my rent and I would have to pay to transfer it to her basement plus pay the $80/mo fee separately that is now included in my rent. Basically, I would just be paying $60 less for a dark, no deck/porch/sunroom, basement with 2 "finished" bedrooms, and a combo kitchen/living/partially "exposed" bathroom which is, for the most part, (cement floor, cement block walls, pipes/underfloor exposed ceiling, laundry sink with "floating" cabinets/small oven-stove/fridge.), unfinished. She DID say that "you're welcome to finish it", but on disability & with my health-that's not going to happen. I do NOT WANT to move, even downstairs, period. We had discussed this when I helped her get her mortgage restructured and I promised to stay here long-term because I love this apt. I don't want to "fight" her; but I'm tired of being taken advantage of, and WILL if I have to. I just don't know if I have a "right" to legally.

Shawn B Alexander

Shawn B Alexander

Posted

Just say no thank you and stand by the lease you have.

Asker

Posted

Thank you. That sets my mind at ease.

Posted

You absolutely are not required to move out, or into the basement, of the property which you are leasing. Your landlord cannot force you out of your apartment so that it may be leased to somebody else, this is essentially an eviction and there are judicial procedures for such.