Q: How can I identify if my mother's rights were violated in a property purchase contract? She's an elderly woman.

To whom it may concern,

Seeking urgent help regarding a potential violation of my mother's rights in a lease agreement. She co-owns a property in Puerto Rico and signed an exclusive lease with a tenant. Unauthorized alterations were made by the tenant, including demolishing the kitchen countertop, installing an AC unit, replacing windows and doors, and bathroom renovations. These alterations were not approved by my mother. She wants the tenant to vacate the property due to lack of trust, as well as her own eviction in January 2024. Limited financial resources and difficulty finding legal assistance in Puerto Rico have added to our concerns. We request your help in determining if my mother's rights were violated in this matter.

Thank you,

2 Lawyer Answers
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Landlord Tenant Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: Certainly, Mr. Pérez. In general, a tenant cannot make significant alterations to a property without the landlord's permission, especially if it affects the property's value or usability. If your mother's lease agreement specifies that alterations or improvements require her consent and the tenant violated these terms, then the tenant may be in breach of the lease.

Puerto Rico's laws, like many jurisdictions, often protect property owners against unauthorized alterations. If the tenant made unauthorized changes, your mother might have legal grounds to terminate the lease and potentially seek damages.

However, the exact rights and remedies available to her will depend on the specific terms of the lease agreement and local laws. Given the gravity of the alterations and their potential impact, I would strongly recommend seeking local legal counsel in Puerto Rico to guide you through the process. They can help ascertain the full extent of your mother's rights and potential remedies.

Tim Akpinar
Tim Akpinar
  • Arbitration & Mediation Lawyer
  • Little Neck, NY

A: I'm sorry for your mother's ordeal. You describe difficulty in finding an attorney to handle the matter, and an attorney in Puerto Rico should advise, as any arbitration or litigation would be governed by territory-specific guidelines. You could continue to search for attorneys, look into whether your mother is eligible for assistance through legal aid programs, use the Find a Lawyer tab above, and check with local bar associations. Those resources are outside this forum, and any arrangements would be between your mother and the attorneys she reaches out to. Good luck

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