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View Diary: Landlord trying to evict family, refuses to provide heat (119 comments)

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  •  You can't live in a property rent free (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    miss SPED, Ice Blue, ManhattanMan

    For $30-$60, you can get oil filled radiators at Walmart which do a very good job of heating, and are relatively safe.     A smart landlord would have delivered some of these to the tenants if the weather was turning bad, to avoid this situation.   It's a quick and easy fix.   Since the landlord is an idiot, then if the family cannot afford this expense, perhaps the DKOS community could assist, until the matter is resolved.  

    I think the family made a bad choice, however, to refuse to pay rent.   The landlord does not have an obligation to provide a family a place to live rent free.  It's an argument you simply won't win. If you refuse to pay rent, you must leave.    It is not a good idea to get yourself in a situation where the landlord can damage your credit.  I have known families that got in that situation.  They cannot get approved for a new lease, and end up in undesirable properties, even more expensive undesirable properties, because they can't pass the credit check at a more affordable, more desirable property.

    These problems tend to happen around Christmas.  The weather is more severe.   Small landlords can be cash strapped regarding repairs.  And, tenants can be cash strapped regarding rent.  It's the perfect storm.  

    If the family cannot afford heaters, then it will be very difficult for them to catch up and pay two months' rent at once if they do get this straightened out with the landlord.  So, I hope they put that money aside intact, when they chose not to pay their rent.  They will either need it to pay rent in arrears, or they will need to pay expensive deposits on a new place, if they can find one with bad credit.  

    Usually, a situation like this works out that the family is eventually evicted, their credit is damaged, and they  have trouble finding a new place to stay, and trouble affording the new deposits.   Meanwhile, the landlord is stiffed out of a month or so of rent, amounting to several hundreds or over a thousand dollars, while they are trying to get a tenant evicted.  Everyone loses.  

    It is best to take the high ground and pay your rent.

    I wish this family well.  They are certainly justified in their complaints.  But, they do need to pay their rent or leave the property.   I hope they get this resolved.  I wonder if their relationship with the landlord is so damaged now that this will not work out in the long term, regardless of whether the heat gets repaired and the rent gets paid.  

    If this is a family living on the edge of desperate poverty, then that is heartbreaking in and of itself.

    •  wrong wrong wrong (0+ / 0-)

      you landlords do not have the right to collect rent while you refuse to provide needed repairs

      this landlord should be in jail

      all rent due should be abated

      WE NEVER FORGET Our Labor Martyrs: a project to honor the men, women and children who lost their lives in Freedom's Cause. For Jan: USW Local Mourns Fallen Brother

      by JayRaye on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 06:06:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Tenant pays rent into an escrow account (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Black Max, miss SPED

        Residential Landlord Tenant Law varies depending where the property is located.

        In many locales, tenants are required to keep current on the rent during all disputes with their landlord.  In a few cases tenant have the right to pay the rent owed into an escrow account -- rather than paying it to the landlord.

        Also, there are complicated rules enabling portions of the rent to be witheld to pay for repairs the landlord fails to make. But these self-help rules are usually pretty complicated and do not apply in all cases.

        Generally, if a tenant is behind on rent it usually is fatal to their cause.

        Also, tenants should do all they can to avoid an unlawful detainer action being filed in court. Once it is filed it will show up on landlord/renter background checks making it very difficult to find a quality rental ever again.

        •  Nope not necesarily true. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ManhattanMan

          In a city with a strong Tenant's Rights Association and good tenant's rights laws, it can work this way:

          1. Call for housing inspection, and get an order of repair. No heat is a major violation, by the way, and could result in fine or jailing of landlord.

          2. Notify landlord that rent will be withheld (no legal need to put into escrow, by the way), and wait for landlord to file for whatever landlord wants to file. If harassed in the mean time, call the police, show them your papers.

          3. Counter file, suing for rent abatement.

          4. Win in court.

          I've done this myself in a city in MN, and have helped others to win also. One of these slumlord's ended up owing the tenant money, and still couldn't evict the tenant.

          The idea that a tenant without heat should pay rent is simply ridiculous.

          The landlord should be in jail, pay a massive fine, and owe the tenant money, not the other way around.

          PS Never have had a problem renting after that fight either.

          Tenants are full human beings, not dogs to be kept in heatless houses. At least dogs are not expected to pay to stay in a heatless house. And the Humane Society would intervene if the dog were kept in a freezing heatless house. Perhaps we need a humane society for tenants.

          WE NEVER FORGET Our Labor Martyrs: a project to honor the men, women and children who lost their lives in Freedom's Cause. For Jan: USW Local Mourns Fallen Brother

          by JayRaye on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 07:57:03 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Usually the ULD if filed before the tenants (0+ / 0-)

            take the actions you suggest. ULD actions start a train that is hard to stop. Unlawful detainer actions operate under expedited rules. if a pay-or-vacate notice is legally posted/served, it is very hard to stop the eviction without paying all the rent that is due.

            But as you suggest the law varies widely especially among cities where local ordinances may provide greater renter rights than state laws.

            In MN I can imagine failing to provide heat in the winter is an extreme major violation. Not the same everywhere else.

            Though often making a formal safety/health complaint before the ULD is filed can prevent an eviction for 60-90 days (based on the policy to discourage retaliatory evictions).

            I guess my point is that contrary to popular opinion/conventional wisdom in most jurisdictions it is fast and easy for landlord to evict tenants -- especially if the rent is unpaid.

            •  And my point is still that tenants are human (0+ / 0-)

              beings not dogs.

              If we want justice for people, that's what we fight for.
              And that is the point of this diary, to put the pressure on for justice for this family.

              You seem to think that the law only applies to tenants and tenants duties. The law also applies to the landlord and the landlords duties.

              WE NEVER FORGET Our Labor Martyrs: a project to honor the men, women and children who lost their lives in Freedom's Cause. For Jan: USW Local Mourns Fallen Brother

              by JayRaye on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 08:41:38 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  And a lawyer who stands with poor people, (0+ / 0-)

                should fight to make sure that poor people's rights to live are, at the very least, equal to the property rights of rich people.

                WE NEVER FORGET Our Labor Martyrs: a project to honor the men, women and children who lost their lives in Freedom's Cause. For Jan: USW Local Mourns Fallen Brother

                by JayRaye on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 08:45:00 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  You are right, of course, but we need to (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                ManhattanMan

                avoid promoting the general falsehood that it is difficult for a landlord to evict a tenant.

                In many juridictions, if rent is not paid it is very easy and fast to evict a tenant.

                I defended a few ULD respondents pro-bono. Here, it is practically impossible to stop the eviction if the pay-or-vacate was valid and the time had elapsed. But, occasionally I was able to convince courts not to levy financial judgments for back rent and attorneys fees, but they would still issue an eviction order.

                 

      •  You must always pay your rent. (0+ / 0-)

        If you buy something defective from a store you are entitled to your money back. You are not entitled to your money and the item.  You have to give the defective item back.

        But a tenant who refuses to pay rent is not giving the apartment back! She is keeping the rent and the apartment. She cannot have it both ways!

        That is why, if you have a beef with your landlord, you must pay into an escrow account, or pay your rent to the Housing Court.

        Otherwise tenants would make up frivolous excuses to not pay rent.

        •  Oh really & you are expert on rental law (0+ / 0-)

          in every area the country?

          I am speaking from direct experience.

          Where I was living at the time: once the landlord has orders to repair from housing inspector, tenant can notify landlord of rent withholding, and no, the rent does not need to go into escrow.

          The next step is up to the landlord, if he wants to go to court rather then make needed repairs, fine, then the next step is up to the judge.  

          The landlord ended up owing me money. Had he made the repairs, I would have paid in full. Since he decided to go to court, I counter-sued for rent abatement.

          The landlord ended up owing me money.

          WE NEVER FORGET Our Labor Martyrs: a project to honor the men, women and children who lost their lives in Freedom's Cause. For Jan: USW Local Mourns Fallen Brother

          by JayRaye on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 04:19:12 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

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