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Barrister
Barrister, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 35816
Experience:  16 years real estate, Realtor. Landlord 26 years
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I rent a house in tobyhanna pa my lease states the address

Customer Question

i rent a house in tobyhanna pa my lease states the address but the landlord will not give me possession of the basement now she has built a apartment in the basement.can i file a complait.i paid all the utilitys at address water sewer electric with no access to water shutoff or electric panel
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.

Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I will try my level best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can.

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Can you tell me how long you have been renting the house?

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Does your lease state anything about the landlord reserving the basement for herself?

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Did the landlord tell you that she was excluding the basement when you initially started renting the property?

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Barrister,
We're only in the house since July 1st.
When we first rented, the basement was under construction. The landlord advised us the basement was going to be a master suite. Once we moved in she advised us she was going to make the downstairs an apartment. At that time she also stated we have a 1 year lease so we did not have to worry about her renting it.
Also how long does the eviction process take.
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.

Ok, if the lease doesn't specifically reserve that basement space for the landlord, then she can't maintain possession of it since your lease presumably just lists the property address. That means that you are entitled to full use and possession of the entire dwelling and anything else on the land at that address.

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So what you have here is a reverse landlord tenant situation where you are the one who is in legal possession of the property and you have the landlord squatting on your tenancy.

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With that said, you have a couple options here.. You can sue the landlord in small claims court under a breach of contract action and seek damages for the loss of use of the basement since July as well as an injunction ordering the landlord to vacate. The other option is to give the landlord a written 30 day notice to vacate (because you would be their landlord here) and then pursue a formal eviction action through the courts once that 30 days expires.

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
As of now now no one occupies the basement. However during all the construction we paid the electric (The use of the electric drills, lights , radio, etc) I know it sounds petty but we are a family of 5 and electricity in not cheap in PA.
I have stated this to her in numorous emails and she basically blows us off.
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.

That could go into a small claims court case against her if you couldn't reach an agreement for some type of compensation or reduction in rent for that usage. The only problem might be in proving how much electricity she used since it isn't on anything like a separate meter...

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So you can tell her that if she won't agree to pay you $XX for electricity usage (you will have to ballpark a reasonable amount), then you will file suit under a breach of contract complaint and seek punitive damages for her intentional refusal to provide you use of the basement despite the fact that you are renting the entire dwelling.

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Can we stop paying rent?
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.

No, that would get you evicted more than likely because you would then be in breach of the contract to pay rent for living in the dwelling. Right now the landlord is in violation for not providing full access to the property that you rented.

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But you can sue the landlord for damages for not having the use of the basement for all this time. So if the house is 3000 sq feet and the basement makes up 1000 of that, you could sue the landlord for damages equal to 1/3 of the rent times how ever many months that you have been denied use. You can also ask the judge for an injunction to prevent/force the landlord to vacate so you have full use and possession of the entire house.

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As an aside, in addition to being an attorney, I have also been a landlord for over 26 years...

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If you feel your original question and any related follow ups have been answered, I would very much appreciate a positive rating on the answer I have provided so I receive credit for my work. If you have a new question the JustAnswer folks require that you start a new question page, but you can request me by putting "For Barrister" in the caption and they will get it to me.

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
fight this in court she has 2600 dollars of my money as security and we are looking to move instead of living here
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.

You could consider this a breach of the rental contract if she refuses to give you possession of the basement area and then notify her that if she doesn't do so within 15 days you will terminate the lease, move, and then sue her for any costs that you have incurred due to her breach.

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If you terminated the tenancy due to her breach, then she would have to refund your deposit within 30 days of termination or upon you surrendering the property and her accepting it back, whichever comes first. 68 P.S. §§ 250.512

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thanks

Barrister