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Landlord-Tenant Disputes Often Difficult To Resolve & End In Court

BELLEVUE (KDKA) -- A home in Bellevue was converted into two apartments and leased out.

Renter George Stevens, a single dad with two kids, says he has multiple problems with a new landlord who purchased the place in 2013.

"These meters are after-market meters and he decides who pays what for the water bill. The hoses that go outside are hooked to my meter so he does his own math and decides who's going to pay what. The electric -- I'm paying for all the common areas -- the outdoor lighting. The people upstairs are mixed with it. He had a permit for a new service, and then he did a total rewire, which is all this," says Stevens showing all the wires.

Stevens points to other issues as well -- holes in the ceilings and perhaps asbestos.

"Sure looks it to me on both of these pipes, but he won't have it tested," said Stevens.

And he claims to have mold in his bathroom, which is below the second floor baths.

"There's actually fencing holding their toilet from falling through," Stevens said.

Real estate attorney Brad Dornish says disputes between landlords and tenants are common.

The biggest complaint, he says, is "lack of habitability of the property, lack of repairs to the property by the landlord."

He advises tenants to email or write their landlords about the problems.

Stevens says he did that.

"He made a bunch of promises, but nothing got done," says Stevens.

Dornish says next call the Allegheny County Health Department for an inspection, or, if you live outside Allegheny County, call your municipal building inspectors.

That's what Stevens did with an inspector noting 39 violations.

The landlord tells KDKA that he has already spent $18,000 on repairs, that Stevens was given notice that his lease would not be renewed, and that he is appealing the Health Department's notice.

With Stevens' lease expired, the landlord is now trying to evict him, a matter now in court.

In court is often the way many of these disputes end.

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