My question involves landlord-tenant law in the State of: PENNSYLVANIA
I am renting a home, and the immediate landlord & her boyfriend have been living/staying in the basement - which has now been converted into a separate apartment - full size stove/oven and refrigerator, shower & toilet.
The lease is in my name, signed by her sister (actual homeowner). The original arrangement (est. 12/10 verbally), was she (immediate landlord) would occasionally stay in the basement a few nights a week, in order to have a closer commute to work. Turns out that she did not have anywhere else to live.
Aside from the incessant cigarette smoking, roaches, and mice my family & I have been dealing with since moving in, her boyfriend has made this situation much more uncomfortable. He arrived in March 2010, bringing with him his own set of rules about how & what I am allowed to do in the house I am renting. We are at a terrible crossroads now, having almost weekly conflicts with the living conditions of this lease.
My list of complaints have been completely ignored. We were allowed to move in without having to pay a security deposit, and she uses that as her excuse for the poor conditions of the home. We did not have a heating system last winter, surviving on portable heaters. Up until two months ago, I would easily catch three mice a week, using sticky glue traps. These glue traps (some left out 24/7) have to be replaced weekly, as mice are not the only unwanted guests walking around. They are set up throughout the house like a perimeter - sealing off each room.
There are other things that I consider to be a breach of the lease too, like the fact that we are only allowed to wash clothes Monday thru Thursday, providing that her boyfriend is not home during these days. I have also been unable to take out the trash when it is convenient too. Every night, if it is after 7pm, trash removal will have to wait until the next day - IF the back door isn't locked. If it is locked, then I cannot take the trash out at all.
I have been unemployed since before signing the lease, which was understood & agreed upon when the lease was signed. Each month, I have not paid the rent in full, citing the complaints of the home. After our last heated exchange, she is now demanding me to sign a payment agreement. The amount she says I owe is not the same as her records. She says she doesn't want to sue me, she would just rather me sign the agreement and move out when the lease is up. I do not feel that I should have to pay her any of the back rent (about $1,800 on a $800 a month lease), and reduced rent for the remaining portion of the lease. I was unemployed, family of four, and responsible for all the utilities. She owns a business and lives in my basement for less than $200 a month. The mortgage is $900 a month, and she reluctantly gives $100 towards the utilities.
Is any of this fair? How do I know even if this house is eligible as a rental? Are there any landlord/tenant violations? Having recently accepted a lucrative job offer, and now that I can afford to move, I would like to take my family somewhere safe and comfortable.
Thank you in advance for your attention and assistance to all who view and advise.