Senior renter signs lease, then finds problems

DEAR HARRY: A month ago, I rented an apartment in North Philly. I gave the real-estate agent a $500 security deposit and my first month's rent, and I got the keys to the apartment. That afternoon, I went there with my daughter and found several problems. We found a hole in a bedroom floor large enough for a foot to go through. It was hidden by a rug. We could see a lot of wires and pipes, as well as the basement. The basement had about an inch of water over most of the floor. When we looked at the yard, we discovered that it was covered with weeds and trash and had no fence. I immediately returned to the agent's office and demanded my money back. The man laughed at me and said that I had signed the lease and it was too late. I am 74, and I can't live in this place. Please help me.

WHAT HARRY SAYS: You must immediately call the Department of Licenses and Inspections at 215-686-2463. Tell them of the hole and the yard. Then call the Senior Hot Line at 215-623-3137 for additional help with the lease. I read your letter several times to see if there was some indication that you saw the apartment before you signed the lease. I found none! Did you sign that lease without seeing the place first? Why?


Email Harry Gross at, or

write to him at Daily News, 801 Market St., Philadelphia, PA 19107. Harry urges all his readers to give blood. Contact the American Red Cross at 800-Red Cross.