DEAR BOB: My father, age 78, lives in his home alone. He has become a bit senile, but he can still be very feisty. His house badly needs a new roof. But he stubbornly refuses to have one installed because he says he can’t afford it. Every time there is a heavy rain, he complains about the leaks and why he can’t find a roofer to patch the leaks. He is in excellent health for his age. I obtained information on reverse mortgages as well as home equity loans for him. Do you think a home equity loan would be better for his situation to pay for a new roof that will cost about $15,000? – Ron R.

DEAR RON: If your father obtains a home equity loan to pay for a new roof, how will he pay the monthly payments? Does he have sufficient retirement income?

Purchase Bob Bruss reports online.

You say he is in excellent health. Presuming your father wants to stay in his home as long as possible, as do most senior citizens, a home equity loan would be only a temporary solution to his money problem.

Even if your father borrows more than enough to pay for a new roof, he will need to borrow enough to make the home equity loan payments as long as he lives in his house. If he lives to be 100, he will eventually run out of cash to pay the payments.

For most senior-citizen homeowners like your father, a better alternative is a reverse mortgage. He can select the credit line or lump sum alternative and never have to make a payment until he sells the home, permanently moves out, or dies. More details are in my new special report, “Secrets of Tax-Free Reverse Mortgage Income for Senior Citizen Homeowners,” available for $4 from Robert Bruss, 251 Park Road, Burlingame, CA 94010 or by credit card at 1-800-736-1736 or instant Internet download at


DEAR BOB: My sister, who was recently convicted of a minor crime, will be in prison for at least three years if she behaves and is then released on parole. Before she went to jail, she gave me a quit claim deed to an investment property she owns. However, when I tried to borrow against the property, I was told there are at least three recorded liens against it. How can this be? It’s a piece of vacant land – Jerome P.

DEAR JEROME: A quit claim deed includes no warranties or representations. When you accepted that deed, you became obligated to pay the recorded liens that affect its title. Perhaps now you understand why your sister gave you that deed, perhaps hoping you would pay her debts. For full details, please consult a local real estate lawyer.


DEAR BOB: We have enjoyed our rental apartment for about three years. However, a month ago the downstairs apartment was rented to a heavy smoker. The smoke somehow gets into our apartment, perhaps through the kitchen or bathroom vents. The result is our apartment smells like we are heavy smokers. We don’t even smoke. The smell is obnoxious. I contacted the building manager and even the landlord. They say there is nothing they can do because smoking in one’s residence is not illegal. Other than moving from our very nice apartment at a reasonable rent, what can we do? – Jess K.

DEAR JESS: Sorry, neither the downstairs tenant nor your landlord has any liability to you for the secondhand smoke. Other than moving out at the end of your lease, you have no practical recourse other than to ask the downstairs neighbor to stop smoking. Good luck.

The new Robert Bruss special report, “Secrets of Tax-Free Reverse Mortgage Income for Senior Citizen Homeowners,” is now available for $4 from Robert Bruss, 251 Park Road, Burlingame, CA 94010 or by credit card at 1-800-736-1736 or instant Internet download at Questions for this column are welcome at either address.

(For more information on Bob Bruss publications, visit his
Real Estate Center


Send tips, feedback or a letter to the editor to or call (510) 658-9252, ext. 124.

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