legal advice

Richard Alderman

Q. When my lease was up, my landlord asked me to sign a new lease. He told me I could sign now, but I had 30 days to decide after signing my lease if I wanted to stay or go. Shortly after signing the new lease, my apartment was broken into. Within 30 days, I told the landlord I was moving. She told me I couldn’t because I had already signed a lease. I also reminded her that I had 30 days to decide whether I wanted to stay or go, but she said it didn’t matter. I moved well within the 30 days, and now she has reported to the credit bureau that I broke my lease.

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Richard Alderman

Q. I have not had this arise, but I am still curious. Can a store demand to see a photo ID when I pay with a credit card? Some places ask, and many do not.

A. Until recently, the only law that controlled whether a store could ask for a photo ID from a customer was the contract between the credit card issuer and the merchant. For most credit cards, this contract prohibits asking for an ID if the card is signed. If the card is unsigned, the merchant has the right to demand to see a photo ID. Here is what each credit company contract says:

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Q. I live in an apartment. I pay my rent on time and I am a good tenant. Recently, a small fire from the next-door unit burned part of my apartment and damaged my property. The apartment owner says he is not responsible for the damage to my property. What can I do? I do not have renter’s insurance.

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Q. I have heard that price gouging is illegal. Exactly how is price gouging defined and what are my remedies if I have been overcharged?

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Q. I am 60 years old and my English is not very good. I usually get very nervous speaking to a group or to people I don’t know. I want to file a claim in justice court, but I am afraid I will not be able to communicate well with the judge. I know I can have a lawyer, but that will be expensive. I have a grown son who has said he will assist me, but I don’t know if that will be allowed. Can my son help me in court?

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Q. How many days do I have to change my mind after I buy a car? I signed a contract late at night and went in the next morning to cancel. The dealer told me I was out of luck and couldn’t change my mind. My friend told me I have three days to change my mind.

A. The dealer is correct. As far as the law is concerned, you generally cannot simply change your mind after you sign a contract.  There are exceptions, however, for health spa contracts, door-to-door sales, timeshare contracts and certain contracts that put a lien on your homestead.

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Q. My friend was late on her rent at an apartment complex. One day she came home and found a lien notice where her TV used to be. They took both of her TVs in the apartment. Isn’t this stealing? Is this legal for them to do?

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Q. Is it true that medical bills or accounts are not allowed to remain on your credit report for more than four years in the state of Texas?

A. It is not true. Medical bills are basically the same as any other debt. They stay on your credit report for seven years. There is a four-year statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit for a debt; however, the fact that you cannot be sued does not mean you no longer owe the debt, and it will not become “obsolete” and removed from your credit report for seven years.

 

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Q. I would like to know if the property manager of an apartment project can refuse to give the tenant the owner’s name if the tenant requests it.

A. According to the Texas Property Code, the landlord or property manager must disclose the name and address of the holder of record title after you request it. If the information is not disclosed, you could be entitled to $100 plus one month’s rent in damages, as well as attorney’s fees and court costs. I suggest you send your request by certified mail.

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Q. We had our foundation repaired by a company that gave us a “lifetime warranty.” Now that it has cracked again they won’t even return our calls. We are not even sure if they are still in business. What are our legal rights? What kind of an attorney do we need?

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