liability

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. 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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“The death is on our hands,” Orange County Judge Brint Carlton said.

Carlton was speaking about the death of inmate Robert Montano, who was held in the county jail “observation bubble” on suspicion of bath salts intoxication for four days in 2011 until he died of renal failure. Carlton confirmed that no evidence has even been produced to show that Montano was ever under the influence of any intoxicant, but he was instead a diagnosed mental health patient without prescribed medication.

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Q. I had a divorce in January 2012. In the decree, a 2012 Toyota Corolla was awarded to my ex-wife. When we bought the car, it was in her name as the buyer and mine as the co-buyer. My ex-wife had been doing very well, making all the payments on this car, until April of this year. I thought my attorney had sent Toyota finance the divorce decree to show she was liable for all future payments.

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Q. I recently had a small fire in my apartment. I think it was caused by the new clothes dryer I had installed. The landlord collected for the damage to his building from his insurance company. Now the insurance company is coming after me for $60,000 because of a clause in my lease. This fire was not my fault. How can I be sued?

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Q. I gave proper notice to end my lease and started moving out a week before it ended. I moved almost all of my belongings into my new apartment and was living there, but I accidently left a jewelry box in my former apartment. When I went back to retrieve it, it was gone. I still had my key and three days remaining on my lease. Is my landlord responsible for the theft?

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Richard Alderman

Q. I went to a big-box store last week and had an accident. The manager completed an accident/incident report. I am not sure quite what actually happened, but I wound up in the floor in a sitting position. I hit my knee, and elbow somehow on the way down. I have an appointment with my doctor this week to get checked out. I have never had to deal with something like this, and never expected it. I would like to know what procedures or steps I should take for something like this.

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Q. Is it against any law to negotiate rental rates? Could it be considered discrimination if a landlord charges different rates for the same size apartment?

A. Discrimination is basically treating one person better or worse than another. It is discrimination to charge different people different rent for the same apartment. Discrimination, however, is not per se illegal. In fact, it is not uncommon for a seller to charge different prices to different customers. I am sure that many people who buy the same type of car pay very different prices.

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Q. I was renting a house with two of my friends. The house burned down because of the electrical fault. We still have six months more to go on lease. We did not have a renter’s insurance. The fire was not our fault. We lost most of our property. We assume the owner has insurance. Can we file to recover for our damages? Can we get compensation toward rent?

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