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Keeping Cars Clean, Resolving Tenant Troubles

Q. Birds keep dropping unwanted presents on my car, and I'm finding it impossible to clean. What can I do? - J.Y. (via e-mail)

A. If you don't remove the droppings, ultimately, the paint surface of the car will be damaged, so it's important to get the stuff off. "All New Hints From Heloise: A Household Guide to the Nineties," suggests using plastic or nylon scrubbers to scrape them away, followed by a good car wash. When swashing your car, choose your soap carefully. The pros use soaps with zero pH. The pH is the amount of acidity or alkalinity in a solution: high pH signifies high acid; low pH signifies a very alkaline solution. Both are bad for your car finish. Detergents are not the best cleaning agents for a car, if you use a detergent, mix only a small amount in a large bucket of water. After you've finished the wash, wipe your car down with old terry towels instead of just letting it dry naturally. The chlorine in city water will leave droplet marks if you don't towel-dry your car. And finally, use a heavy-duty paste wax. A good paste wax will last six months or more and will give the finish better protection than liquid waxes.

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Q. In February, I signed an 18-month lease to rent a house. In June, the owners (via certified letter) informed me they were selling the house. We had asked them before signing the lease whether this could be a possibility and we were assured it was not. Do we have any rights in this matter? - V.W., Arlington, Mass.

A. "You have a very strong case," says Lila Roberts, a legal counselor at the Massachusetts Tenant Association in Boston. "If you are sent an eviction notice, but you have not done anything wrong, you have the right to contest it." The landlord, however, can summon you to Housing Court with a "no-fault eviction summons," and there, a judge will decide who is allowed possession of the house. In most of these cases, the judge will either grant the tenant a stay of execution (anywhere from six weeks to six months) or the judge will override the eviction notice completely and grant the tenant full possession. The burden in this case is on the landlord to give good cause for breaking the tenancy agreement. Ultimately, however, the landlord still has rights as the owner. * Readers should consult a local attorney. The specific facts, state laws, and procedures in each case may vary widely.

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