Living in the ‘Boro: EUSGA organizes landlord-tenant seminar

Category:  News
Wednesday, December 5th, 2018 at 6:35 PM

A landlord-tenant informational seminar was held in Compton Hall 107A at 6 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 26.

The event was hosted by the Edinboro University Student Government Association (EUSGA) and focused on student rights and learning the legal ropes of renting and working with landlords. 

Attorney Tim George of Purchase, George & Murphy shared information with those in attendance, which ranged from changes to laws and codes, rights of tenants and landlords, and the responsibilities of each. 

George addressed potential tenants in the audience, sharing several basic duties and practices every tenant should aim to accomplish, including being honest about their planned stay, reporting defects to the landlord, not installing fixtures and, of course, paying their rent on time.

Other suggestions George had, included: not post-dating checks, which can result in a five-year prison sentence; not asking parents to co-sign; conducting inspections that document area conditions, with pictures before and after tenancy; documenting all communications with their landlord; and providing their forwarding address upon the end of their stay.

Every tenant should fully read their lease before signing it, according to George.

Also addressed were legal subjects, including the judicial code, which highlights concerns such as compensating for damages and unpaid rent with their poential consequences, along with the Landlord Tenant Act of 1951. This act gives tenants the same right to possession as owner during lease term, and through it only the tenant is entitled to insurance protection. 

Another act, the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act, created in 1972, refers to use and, or possession of any illegal substance. Violating this is a reason for eviction, which can only be done by a court.

Also discussed was joint and several liability, which can result in one tenant being responsible for the rent of others who are unable or refuse to pay, reasonable wear and tear, meaning normal use that should be expected when someone is living in a house, and security deposit rules, such as going to court over a disagreement instead of a “self-help” eviction, or suddenly ordering someone to leave, which is illegal, as all evictions must be made by a court.

Guidelines for landlords include joining the Apartment Association of Northwestern Pennsylvania, preparing a legal written lease agreement, following service and notice requirements, which includes the 10-day “pay and stay” rule, making required federal disclosures, and allowing a person to keep and read the lease before signing and returning it.

George stressed the importance of arming oneself with knowledge and keeping in mind that students “can’t want to live off-campus more than [they] want to be treated fairly.”

Joseph Conti, an assistant professor in the criminal justice, anthropology and forensic studies department, was also present and wants students to assess the reality of joint liability with a mental note of, “If they don’t pay, I will.”

“Fair has nothing to do with it,” said George on this topic. 

George can provide advice, but will not provide legal defense due to campus restrictions. He suggests reaching out to magisterial district judge Denise Stuck-Lewis at (814) 476-7734 if you have problems.

Amber Chisholm can be reached at edinboro.spectator@gmail.com.

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