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barristerinky
barristerinky, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 33722
Experience:  Attorney for over 15 years, landlord 26 years
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In November of 2015, my now-ex-boyfriend and I began

Customer Question

In November of 2015, my now-ex-boyfriend and I began renovating his home in PA, with the intention of living together, long term, with my daughter. He would get mood swings where he would say he did not want to go through with this, but then he would apologize and say it was because he was overwhelmed with everything that needed to be done. He still moved me in on moving day, and we had good days after that, as well. However, once his overly controlling tendencies began to show, and I resisted, he became upset, and really wanted to end everything. He then said he wanted me to work full time to pay all of the utilities or else we would not work out. He knew BEFORE I moved in that I was a full time grad student for early childhood education, and would not be able to work a full time job yet. This was all OK until reality hit. He is childish and abusive, and has called the police for simple disagreements just to tell the police officers that he wants me out of the house, and I am invading his space. I do not have a key, so he makes me call the police to demand him to unlock the door, instead of just opening it. He thinks he is helping his cause by acting like this, but he is not. He filed for Recovery of Real Property in the Commonwealth of PA, saying he wants me out of the house, but he does not realize that I am a COHABITANT, and NEVER was a tenant that moved in under specific conditions. If he wants to play landlord, then he needs to get a bathroom door hung, the bathroom faucet needs running water (he disconnected the drain and shut of the water to the sink), and he needs to get the outlets working. I am also locked out of the laundry room that is in the basement, and not allowed to use my furniture in the living room. He has a pile of garbage in the backyard, blocking the rear entrance. Is he hurting himself by writing himself off as a landlord just to get me evicted? Do I have any rights or claim to financial compensation for the living conditions and lack of maintenance in the home and repairs? Am I entitled to anything since I fixed the house with my own two hands, only to get kicked out as soon as it was complete?
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  barristerinky replied 9 months ago.

Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I am a licensed attorney who will try my very best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can. There may be a slight delay in my responses as I research statutes or ordinances and type out an answer or reply, but rest assured, I am working on your question.

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Legally if you aren't an owner of the property and are living there with the owner, then you are a tenant. If there is no written lease, you are a tenant under an oral lease agreement, whether there is rent due or not.

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So you have all the same rights as a tenant. If he wants to change the terms of the tenancy or terminate it, he can do so with a 30 day written notice. After that he would have to pursue a formal eviction action in court to force you to move out, which normally takes about a month.

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Do I have any rights or claim to financial compensation for the living conditions and lack of maintenance in the home and repairs? Am I entitled to anything since I fixed the house with my own two hands, only to get kicked out as soon as it was complete?

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And unfortunately, if you had no agreement with the owner to reimburse you, you can't unilaterally imply one that requires him to reimburse you for any money you spent on the property. If that was the case, he could imply a rental agreement and charge you rent for every month that you were there. The law won't allow parties to spontaneously come up with obligations and the parties agree to them in order for them to be created and legally enforced.

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I am very sorry that I don’t have better news, but please understand that I do have an ethical and professional obligation to provide customers with legally correct answers based on my knowledge and experience, even when I know the answer doesn’t make the customer happy...

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Are you located in PA?
Expert:  barristerinky replied 9 months ago.

No, not currently located in PA.

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Oh, I was hoping you were familiar with specific PA laws if they were different.So there is no difference between a cohabitant and a tenant? Isn't it a reasonable expectation that I put in work to renovate that I would be living there? That was a verbal agreement, and if he is a landlord and not a cohabitant, then aren't I entitled to a key, and access to the laundry which I had before?
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
I also have established residency already as my license and usps address have been changed. Police have been here and agree that there is a difference due to the fact that I moved in as his girlfriend, and now he is trying to impose all of these new "rules" for me to abide by, and he knows I have nowhere to go right now. I cannot afford to rent another place on my own as soon as he would like, and I know a judge won't throw me on the street with a child, especially. What do you advise? And thank you!
Expert:  barristerinky replied 9 months ago.

So there is no difference between a cohabitant and a tenant?

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Legally no. If you aren't an owner who has an ownership interest in the property, you are a tenant/occupant (same rights though)

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Isn't it a reasonable expectation that I put in work to renovate that I would be living there?

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It could be, but that is entirely between you and the owner. If you wanted to work for free to renovate the owner's property, then that is up to you. However, "reasonable expectations" are kind of hard to prove in court.

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That was a verbal agreement, and if he is a landlord and not a cohabitant, then aren't I entitled to a key, and access to the laundry which I had before?

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I would opine yes, but if you didn't even have a key, that should have been a big red flag to you that he considered you a guest, and not even an occupant/tenant, (although the law still does)

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The fact that you have established residency means that you have the legal rights as as tenant and must have your tenancy properly terminated with a 30 day notice and then he would have to file an eviction action in court to force you to vacate..

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So at this point, if there was some agreement for him to reimburse you, then you would want to file a small claims court action against him for breach of contract before he evicts you to get a money judgment against him that you can collect on to get money to move.

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I am very sorry that I don’t have better news, but please understand that I do have an ethical and professional obligation to provide customers with legally correct answers based on my knowledge and experience, even when I know the answer doesn’t make the customer happy...

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Since he is downstairs, I cannot speak right now, but I can tomorrow morning, around 10 am. We were a couple, and he even paid for my storage while we redid the floors, and the renovation was paid for on my credit card, which he has agreed to pay for every month. I told him I was looking for work, but did not want to promise a specific move out date, as I don't want to go back on my word, but I have since been on job interviews, and looking at apartments available. He has been violent, threw me onto broken glass after his 24 pack of beer fell and broke on the floor, and every time the police have come, he has been drunk. I know I can get a PFA, and the police told me that he would be forced to leave, even if he owns it, but my intention is not to stay permanently. I just need more time, and I want him to allow me to live in peace until I can provide for myself and my daughter. Is it unlikely that a judge would extend my time allowed here? Also, if he is claiming to be my landlord, then he illegally locked me out, shut off the water, and is guilty of retaliation by locking the laundry room. I had a key, but they were lost in the house a month or two ago, and I kept asking him to make me a new set, but he procrastinated. As far as proving the expectation to live there, wouldn't the recurring trips together to Home Depot, totaling in over $8,000 and the fact that he physically moved me in, satisfy the burden of proof? The fact that we were a couple must show for something. Like I explained, I told him peacefully that I was leaving, even though he changes his mind every day literally, as he is bipolar. I never told him I would never leave, but I told him he needed to be reasonable and allow me time to collect my thoughts and plan my move. He is very spiteful when I do not "obey" him, and I get very nervous being around him. If I had somewhere to go, I would, but I cannot go anywhere yet. What is your best advice in this case?
Expert:  barristerinky replied 9 months ago.

I know I can get a PFA, and the police told me that he would be forced to leave, even if he owns it

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Correct. And this would be a very good idea.

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Is it unlikely that a judge would extend my time allowed here?

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If he properly terminates your tenancy and then evicts through the court,then yes, the judge has to follow the law, not what he thinks is fair.

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As far as proving the expectation to live there, wouldn't the recurring trips together to Home Depot, totaling in over $8,000 and the fact that he physically moved me in, satisfy the burden of proof?

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"Expectation" isn't legally enforceable. To be blunt, I expect to win the lottery every time I buy a ticket, but I can't sue when that doesn't happen. We are built on a system of laws, contracts, and agreements, so if there was no law that this defaults to, and no contract or agreement, then an expectation is just a "hope" or "wish" and not legally enforceable.

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I am truly sorry you are in this situation, but your best bet is to prolong your stay as long as possible (with a PFA) and then save up for a move that will eventually happen due to an eviction once he talks to an attorney to figure out what his options are.

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I am sorry the news isn't better.

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Have to log off for the evening, but will check back when in office in the morning.

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
I appreciate your help and advice, and I hope we can discuss tomorrow. My number is(###) ###-#### ***** thank you!
Expert:  barristerinky replied 9 months ago.

I am sorry but I do not participate in the phone call program for the site and limit my interaction with customers only to the website.

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However, if you wish to have a phone call with an attorney, you can post a request for "additional services" and your request will post to other experts that do offer this service. When another attorney accepts your request you will get additional instructions.

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thanks

Barrister