Biography

Benny Kass is a practicing attorney in Washington. There he has been writing the Housing Counsel column weekly since the early 1970s and ...

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Benny L. Kass

Benny L. Kass

Housing Counsel

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Balancing tenant's privacy with landlord's right to enter

August 29, 2014

Q: I collect and manage the rental of a condominium unit on behalf of my daughter, who lives in another state. The renter just up and left, abandoned her car in the parking lot, discarded items left in the basement cubicle, and changed all unit locks so I cannot access. She has not responded to phone calls or certified/return receipt letter. I posted the five-day notice in hopes she was returning to complete moving her possessions.

  • Insurer can deny coverage if home is missing permits

    August 23, 2014

    Q: Your advice was right on when you cautioned readers not to buy a house that did not have permits or a certificate of occupancy. Another important consideration in demanding to see the building, electrical and any other permit is that in the event of a fire or loss, an insurance carrier could deny coverage.

  • Why sellers should disclose their homes' past problems

    August 17, 2014

    Q: We've owned our 1960s home since 1991, when we bought it from the estate of the original owners. We know the location of the septic system and have it cleaned regularly.

  • Getting the dirt on who's liable for illegal dumping

    August 8, 2014

    Q: We bought a lot in an upscale subdivision in a homeowners association. The covenants state: "No owner can dump dirt or other materials on any part of the land." It goes on to define land as lots and common areas. Our plan was to build a house on the lot.

  • Lender demands more data for loan in good standing

    August 4, 2014

    Q: I have a vacation home loan that is a couple of years old.

  • What seller can do when buyer breaks contract

    July 26, 2014

    Q: I did a for-sale-by-owner real estate transaction, and the buyer gave me a check for 10percent down, the balance to be paid at closing. We wrote all this on paper. Both of us signed with possession scheduled on or before Sept. 1. We verbally agreed there were no stipulations on the sale.

  • Partnership agreement requires documentation

    July 20, 2014

    Q: I have a condo and have paid about 50 percent of the mortgage. My sister has offered to pay off my mortgage, but if she does, I want to put her on the title as co-owner.

  • Exercising your right of first refusal, offer

    July 14, 2014

    Q: What is a right of first refusal? We are tenants and want to buy the property but our landlord says we can only have a right of first refusal. Does this help or hurt us?

  • Do words prevail over numbers in real estate deals?

    July 6, 2014

    Q: We signed a contract to buy a condominium. The sales price was $370,000.

  • Word of caution on lack of property disclosure

    June 26, 2014

    Q: We were in the process of buying a house that we knew was gut rehabbed, and during our inspection, the builder/seller of the house was nice enough to come by to answer our questions. Well, my inspector noticed that some of the electrical was not up to standard and asked to see the permits, to which the builder/seller stated he had not pulled any for the entire job. The house was completely gutted with new HVAC, electric, plumbing, insulation, even a carrier beam installed, all without an inspector coming by.

  • Get the facts on whether you owe time, share fees

    June 20, 2014

    Q: I am getting letters about time-share maintenance fees, and I don't remember ever buying into any time share.

  • Ways unmarried couple can take title to condo

    June 13, 2014

    Q: My girlfriend and I plan to get married next year, but we want to buy a condominium now.

  • What stays with the house and what goes? Put it in writing

    June 6, 2014

    Q: My husband and I signed a contract to buy a house, and the settlement will take place in about a month. We have the right to visit the house periodically so we can take measurements for some of our plans.

  • Homebuyer carrot might come with strings attached

    June 1, 2014

    Q: I was looking at realty listings in my area and noticed someone is selling a house with a free car. I'd never heard of that tactic before, and it struck me as an extravagant incentive.

  • Transfering deed after a death can be complex

    May 27, 2014

    Q: I need your expert advice. My wife died a few months ago, and our house is in joint tenants. Now I want to take my wife off and put my daughter as a joint tenant. I am going to do a warranty or quit-claim deed and put the property in our names and keep the deed at home. When I die, my daughter can record the deed. Is this the right way to go? My friend said this was OK to do. I'm 69 years old, and the senior center couldn't help me out.

  • Transfer property into trust to avoid probate

    March 14, 2014

    Q: Eleven years ago, my wife and I set up a trust and know we must restructure it now.

  • Borrower loses home but still has to pay equity loan

    March 7, 2014

    Q: My home was foreclosed a few years ago. At that time, I had a home equity line of credit on the property. I am not responsible for the main mortgage. Unfortunately, this didn't seem to affect my equity loan, and I am still making payments on it. What options do I have? I'd like to stop payment or settle for a lesser amount owed.

Sun archive: Dream Home

Dream Home takes readers into the houses of Baltimore area residents who have found their ideal home

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