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My Rights as Tenant / Legal advice?

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  1. thpool

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Fri Aug 24 2012 18:39:14
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    Hello,

    At the beginning of this month I moved out of an apartment as scheduled (my lease ended) into a new home. As I was moving from my old apt, I discovered bed bugs in my bed. In a panic, I left my bed behind but brought the rest of my things here to my new house. I know now this was a horrible decision, and I've been living in constant fear that I am going to start seeing bed bugs at my new house.

    I notified my old landlord of the bed bugs present in his apt, he let me know he would spray my old mattress then I could come back and have it removed for trash.

    It is stated clearly in my old lease that "Landlord pays any pest/rodent service fees". It has been almost a month since moving out and I have been waiting patiently for him to return my security deposit, today he notified me he is keeping it to cover the cost of the pest control.

    What are my rights in this situation? Can I take him to court? Will it be an easy case? I still have a copy of my lease with me.

  2. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Fri Aug 24 2012 18:53:56
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    I am not a lawyer but this may be an issue for housing court or small claims court.

    You really need advice from someone who knows the local laws.

    Try Googling a local tenants' organization. We have links to a few in

      NYC
      Chicago, Cook Co. and suburbs (IL)
      Michigan
      Minnesota
      Toronto
      Wisconsin

    in our Resources page (the landlords/tenants section) and there are many more all over the place, but I can only list ones which come to my attention somehow.

    Many of them have a hotline and can answer questions. You may also be able to get assistance from an organization that offers free or low cost legal aid (like LawHelp.org).

    I started and run the site but am "not an expert."
  3. theyareoutthere

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Fri Aug 24 2012 19:01:44
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    It's best not to get legal advice over the internet. Your question is actually more complicated than you might initially think from a legal/housing point of view. And, the issue of bedbugs is relatively new.

    Maybe your best bet is to contact the housing/tenants rights division in your state or county. In larger metropolitan areas, there are often not-for-profits that help tenants with landlord issues. It may involve a small fee under $100. There are usually nominal fees involved in going to conciliation court, but you'll want to get some advice...particularly, if you look up records and see that your landlord has a lot of experience.

    You may want to read the lease regarding pest control, your duties as a tenant for how the apt is left (ie are there charges to you for cleaning or disposing of the mattress, etc).

    It also may depend if your deposit was a few hundred dollars or one or two months rent.
    Passives might be a good idea in your new home...especially in the bedroom.

    They
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  4. Blackheart

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Fri Aug 24 2012 19:55:06
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    Hi thpool, in Toronto, it is definitely the Landlord's responsibility to remedy the problem, elsewhere I could not tell you, check with your local Property Standards People, honestly so much of this stuff happening, so sad there isn't more clear communications making tenants know of their rights, but of course that's dependant on where you live, hang in!

    Theyare: Do not put yourself down, your one positive and good person I've gotta tell ya!

  5. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Fri Aug 24 2012 22:13:07
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    TAOT,
    I deleted your accidental duplicates. Sorry you had that trouble. It seems to be a new issue.
    Did you possibly post them when using an old version of Internet Explorer? I think this was happening to Braveheart and I believe changing the browser helped.

  6. theyareoutthere

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Fri Aug 24 2012 22:22:02
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    It happened when I went back and tried to edit (history edit). I'll see if updating helps. Thanks!

  7. thpool

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Fri Aug 24 2012 23:29:58
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    Thank you for the responses. My main point of focus here is that the lease both I and the landlord signed clearly states, this is directly from the lease "Landlord will pay any necessary pest/rodent control service costs."

    I feel like a signed lease, aka a legal document, should override anything else, is that not correct? I am in Pittsburgh, Pa by the way.

    The deposit is $825 in total.

  8. theyareoutthere

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Sat Aug 25 2012 13:41:49
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    I'm not a lawyer. Depending on how good his lawyer is, they will be looking for other discussion in the lease regarding your responsibilities as a tenant to leave the property in a certain condition. Again, I'm not a lawyer, but leaving the bed there may be an issue which would partially or fully offset the cost of treatment.

    Again, and I'm not trying to be difficult, the most important thing that you can do is to get the advice of an attorney. It may seem clear to you but tenant law is complicated...always...and this is a new area.

  9. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Sat Aug 25 2012 15:45:12
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    TAOT is right.

    I suspect no actual lawyer would give you advice on a web forum with anonymous usernames. Anyone who does give you advice in this setting is likely well-meaning but is surely not qualified to do so.

    When people share what they did, they are working on the basis of their own local laws and their own leasing agreements.

    The wording on the lease seems promising, but if the landlord is not honoring the statement on the lease, then you need legal advice about how to proceed. I added a link to a source which gives free or low cost legal assistance in many states. Pittsburgh may have a good tenants' organization too and they can often advise or hook you up with someone who can.

  10. theyareoutthere

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Sat Aug 25 2012 16:16:47
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    I didn't mean to sound harsh. It sounds logical to read the lease, but depending on what lease he used and who his attorney is, it could be tricky. There could also be factors that we haven't discussed here that could impact it. No idea what it could be, but a friend is a real estate attorney and the reason there are tenant rights groups is that the landlord often unfairly wins because he/she/it has better legal advice. It is not fair.


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