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Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Legal
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This question pertains to a property in Montgomery Co., Pa.

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This question pertains to a property in Montgomery Co., Pa. We were renting our house to a couple and they assured us that they were going to buy the property at the end of the lease. I realize there is no legal obligation for them to do so. The lease term was one year. At the end of that year, they emailed me and said they were no longer interested n the house and wanted a more rural location to raise their children. thus the lease stipulated it would remain in effect month to month until they notified me that they were moving. During that period, I could not longer to afford to maintain 2 houses and we were served with a notice of foreclosure that had to be posted at the PA house. the tenant emailed me and asked what was going on. I told them I was going to let the bank proceed with the foreclosure. She then wrote back and said they were going to look for another house immediately, but was going to remain there until they found another house. They also stated that since the house couple be sold at any time, they were going to put the rent in to escrow and then pay the mortgage holder. I did tell them that they could use their security deposit for that months rent (April) and to send me a certified letter explaining what they wanted to do. They never did sent the letter and also never sent a certified letter that they were moving. They paid no rent from April through September, moving out the end of September. When I go the foreclosure settelment, that money that was supposed to go towards the mortgage balance was not on it. i inquired if they ever paid it and they said no , the bank never asked for it. Since it was not applied to what I owed, i asked them to forward the rent money to me as required by the lease. They refused. Where do I go from here?
Hello friend. My name is XXXXX XXXXX welcome to JustAnswer. Please note: (1) this is general information only, not legal advice, and, (2) there may be a slight delay between your follow ups and my replies.

I am very sorry for your situation. Can you please tell me how much they owe you for that time, in total?

This is not an answer, but an Information Request. I need this information to answer your question. Please reply, so I can answer your question. Thank you in advance.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi- Thank you Ely for responding. The total is $9,000. That is rent from May- Sept. Since the situation was so tenuous, I will try negotiating a settlement with them. If that does not happen, then I will initiate legal proceedings.

Thank you, friend. Apologies for the wait as I am typing out my answer now...
My apologies for the wait.

To sue in a state court, one needs to have a "cause of action." There are numerous causes of action, such as "breach of contract," "negligence," "fraud," "unjust enrichment," etc., as well as causes of action rooted in statutory law. Every state has their own although they are very similar to each other in every state. Every cause of action has its own elements, and each element has to be satisfied for a cause of action to be successful in court.

In this case, what you may have here is a case for unjust enrichment. When all is said and done, what has happened is that they had lived out that part of the lease without payment.

The elements of unjust enrichment are "benefits conferred on defendant by plaintiff, appreciation of such benefits by defendant, and acceptance and retention of such benefits under such circumstances that it would be inequitable for defendant to retain the benefit without payment of value." Wolf v. Wolf, 356 Pa.Super. 365, 514 A.2d 901 (1986), overruled 268*268 on other grounds, Van Buskirk v. Van Buskirk, 527 Pa. 218, 590 A.2d 4 (1991); see also Burgettstown-Smith Township Joint Sewage Authority v. Langeloth Townsite Co., 403 Pa.Super. 84, 588 A.2d 43 (1991).

Here, arguably, such an action exists.

The proper venue for this matter would be small claims court, called a 'Magisterial District Court.' You can see a guide on how to file a suit here. A Judgment from the Court may be enforced just like any other judgment if not promptly paid.

I hope this helps and clarifies. Good luck.

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