Q: We're renting a farmhouse from an owner who lives out of state and who inherited the property from an uncle. The owner is not familiar with the property but acknowledged that it needed some fixing up before it was ready for occupation. I'm a contractor by trade, so I offered to do it, and the owner said OK. He gave us two months' free rent in exchange for my hours of work and materials. But the cost to do all that was necessary was more than that amount by about $500. Does the landlord have to pay the extra? --Janice J. A: It's a shame that you and the owner didn't anticipate this at the start. In fact, you should have anticipated the opposite result, too -- that the cost to do the work might be less than two months' rent. In that event, the question would be whether the owner could fairly expect you to pay something for those first couple of months. The key to answering your question lies, first, in the type of work you did on the house. You say it needed "fixing ...
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