Good advice for new landlords

Q: I hope that nobody buys a home to rent out unless they know renter’s laws, have a good and reasonably priced lawyer and know how to fix things themselves. — I.D.S.

A: That about sums it up. Perfect advice in just a few words. Thanks.

Monthly payment raised

Q: I have followed your column for years, but have not seen this in your articles. My daughter bought a house in June of 2014. She qualified for a $700 to $800 mortgage. But she received a letter from her bank this January that her mortgage will cost over $1,200 a month. She is in tears.

There’s no explanation for the increase. Her taxes actually went down. My main question to you is, how can they raise her monthly payment over the amount that she qualified for? No one at the bank wants to accept the responsibility or even talk to her. I’m thinking that her bank screwed up at the time of closing. Can an attorney go after the bank and make them pay? Should I contact a news station and see if they can look into it? Any information would be helpful. — D. S.

A: We can pretty much rule out that she has an adjustable-rate loan. With today’s low-interest rates, few borrowers use them. In any event, that wouldn’t account for such a large increase.

My guess is that the original payments were mistakenly set too low to cover the property taxes and insurance that the lender has paid on her behalf. She’s being asked to make up the difference. Her payments might be lower after that’s straightened out.

If she borrowed from a local lender, she could visit the office and insist on talking to the manager until she understands what’s happening. It’s hard to suggest anything else without seeing the original loan documents and the notice from January.

How to set it up

Q: My 76-year-old sister inherited the family home from my brother, who originally inherited it after our parents’ death. She has named me the next beneficiary of the house in her will. She is married but her husband, who has four adult children, is not in her will.

I would like to move into the home with my husband and renovate it prior to my sister’s death. We have discussed adding me to the deed and giving my husband the rights in case I precede him in death. We want my children to inherit the house eventually.

We also have other siblings who don’t always play nice. Is this a reasonable way to move into and renovate the home? Or is there a better way? — J. S., to

A: The process might depend on what documents have already been signed — by you and your brother-in-law — and where the home is located. In some states, for example, a homestead law might need to be considered.

Your sister — and perhaps you and her husband — should either consult the lawyer who drew up her will or one who specializes in estate planning. You can discuss the best way to accomplish what you all want and how to avoid complications in the future.

Large welfare lien

Q: I got married when I was 18 in 1971. I bought a house, had two babies and was divorced by 20. I had to go on welfare for a couple of years and sign an open-ended lien in order to buy the house. I found a job and worked there for 20 years before retiring. I had to get day care help from them for a few years after I started working.

I would like to sell the house now, but they say the lien on the house is close to $35,000. I don’t know why it is so much. They sent me a statement that made no sense to me. I know I need to pay them back, but that amount seems incorrect.

What type of lawyer do I need, and how can I find one? Do you think he or she could negotiate a smaller payback? — Anonymous, to

A: You gave a lien, a financial claim against your house, in return for welfare back in those difficult days. It’s too bad they didn’t send annual invoices so you could’ve kept track of how much you owe over the years.

Mistakes are sometimes made in the calculations. In some areas, for example, child care subsidies cannot be added to the debt.

You may want to start by taking whatever documents you have to an accountant for an explanation. Or you can phone your county’s American Bar Association office and ask for a list of lawyers who specialize in welfare matters.

Edith Lank will respond personally to any question sent to or 240 Hemingway Drive, Rochester NY 14620.

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