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Barrister
Barrister, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 38173
Experience:  16 years real estate, Realtor. Landlord 26 years
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My fiance and I have been living in our apartment for about

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Hi there. My fiance and I have been living in our apartment for about 2 years. More recently we have had our buildings main front door replaced. The previous door was old, and literally so rotten that it was falling off the hinges. The Landlord replaced the door, but the new door is a thin door that has a large glass window, and no exterior lock. The previous door had an exterior lock, the area we live in is not known to be the safest area. Without a proper exterior lock, literally anyone has access to our building. We also have a storage unit in our basement that has not been properly maintained, save for a single lock, I worry that someone could come in at anytime and rob us, or break into our storage unit, or that homeless people squatters could come into our building at anytime. Our lease has a clear policy for no squatting. We have asked the landlord to replace the lock, but he literally told us today that, "Many residence are not happy that the exterior doors lack locks, and I do not feel the issue is do for concern. The doors will likely not be getting a lock." We have also brought to his attention an increase in smoking. Several of our neighbors in the building smoke, but we have witnessed some who are smoking in the common area stairway of our building. The leave the windows of the common area stairway open and smoke out the windows. This causes the common area hallways to wreak of smoke, akin to a barber shop, and since they leave the windows open, bugs have been coming in. I have noticed the smoke smell coming into our unit as well. My fiance has asthma, and we own 2 cats. If she inhales too much 2nd hand smoke, she could have an asthma attack. We have addressed concerns about this before to our landlord, the have attempted to stop the situation by sending written notice to the tenements of our building, and even mentioned that fines would occur if they did not comply with the non smoking policy. There are even signs in the common area hallway stating no smoking. The landlord put a smoking receptacle outside our back door, and since then there have visible cigarette butts littered around the door. We told our landlord that this is contradictory to their previous letter, as it encourages tenants to smoke. The landlord stated he could move us to a different unit to move away from the issue, but our lease expires in 5 months, and doing so would mean we would be locked in for another year. Such an action would logistically, and practically not work for us, and we have no desire to remain on with this property.
JA: Because real estate law varies from place to place, can you tell me what state this is in?
Customer: PA Norristown, PA to be specific
JA: Has any paperwork been filed?
Customer: legal paperwork, no I filed a maintenance request asking them to correct the smoking, and to add a lock to the exterior door. it has not been addressed though
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: i don't believe so

Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I am a licensed attorney and will try my best to help with your situation. There may be a slight delay in my responses as I type out an answer or reply.

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You may also be offered a phone call, but those don’t come from me and are offered by JustAnswer and you are under no obligation to accept.

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I have read all your comments, but I don't see an actual legal question?

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Are you asking if the problems with other tenants smoking and the no locks issue would give you legal grounds to terminate your lease?

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Does the lease state that it is a non smoking building?

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
I am not aware if the lease states that smoking is prohibited, but there are non smoking signs in our building. If I recall the previous letter regarding the matter we were assured that the common areas of the building we non smoking areas, as the letter was meant to tell our neighbors to stop smoking in the halls.We are asking though if the lack of lock on the door and the increase of smoking is grounds for us to move out before our lease is up, or if at the least or at the least withhold rent if the lock is not replaced.
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
We want to know if the violation of smoking is breaking the PA Tenant Rights to a Livable Place.
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
the door not having a proper lock
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
I just pulled up our lease now, and under the rules and regulations section, it states as one of the Articles that we must refrain from smoking in the common areas.

We are asking though if the lack of lock on the door and the increase of smoking is grounds for us to move out before our lease is up, or if at the least or at the least withhold rent if the lock is not replaced.

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Unfortunately no. The landlord's duty to a tenant is to provide a "habitable" dwelling that meets all code and housing ordinances, but that is about it. So that applies to your actual apartment, not the storage areas or other areas. If there is no local Housing Code that requires a lock on the exterior door, then that is not a violation and wouldn't give you grounds to terminate.

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As for the smoking, unless your lease specifically states that the entire building is non-smoking, then that wouldnt' give you legal grounds to end the lease without repercussions under a breach of contract claim. It would be up to the landlord to enforce violations against other tenants if they were smoking in prohibited areas.

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So I hate to say it, but based on your comments, I don't see those issues as being a violation of your lease so as to give you grounds to terminate it.

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However, if you felt you had to break the lease and move due to the smoking or other issues, the landlord would have a legal duty to try to find a new tenant once you vacated and could only hold you liable for any lost rent until he did so.

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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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Barrister

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
Thank you for your time.

You are very welcome. Happy to help any time, even though the news is kind of lousy.

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It was my pleasure to work with you and help with your question. If you ever need me in the future, you can post a new question with "For Barrister" in the caption and the JustAnswer employees will get it to me.

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If you feel I have answered all your questions, I would very much appreciate a 5 star rating by clicking on the rating scale on your screen as that is the only way I receive credit for my work.

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Thanks much

Barrister

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