I rented a house from a private owner who has no real estate license and now she harasses me because I found out about her not having a license.

Now that I have moved out due to her harassing me and her request for me to vacte she refuses to give back my security deposit can I take her to court and ask for my money back due to the fact she doesn’t have a license to rent and the house is in her brothers name not hers

Asked on July 6, 2009 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

I am not admitted in PA but in most cases you can sue for return of security in small claims court.  Here are some of the issues that may come up in Court and that I believe are important here:  Did you have a lease?  If yes, who is listed on the lease as the owner?  If no lease, were you a month to month tenant?  When you say she made a "request for you to vacate" did she do so formally (with a notice required by the type of tenancy you have)?  If you had a lease and she did not formally evict you I am concerned that she may sue you for the remainder of the lease. Bring whatever proof you may have of the "eviction."

If she is holding herself out as a licensed real estate broker you can consider reporting her to the state agency that licenses agents.  You can use this as a last resort.  If she continues to harass you seek help of the police or an attorney.

B. B., Member, New Jersey Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

I'm not a Pennsylvania attorney, and the tenant security return laws vary from one state to another, but I'd think the answer would be yes.  Your "landlady" can't hide behind her license problem, if she took your money as a security deposit she's bound by the law.  Your best approach would be to talk to a local attorney about handling the case for you.

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