Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Lowdown on the Lowlife Who Is My Landlord

h, when will justice prevail?

It's 62 degrees in my apartment as I'm writing, a temperature clearly in violation of the Landlord-Tenant Rights Ordinance of this city.

It's occurred to me this morning that perhaps one reason my landlord bought each of his buildings under a different company name is so he can wiggle out from under the lame mandate of the Ordinance, which pertains only to owners of a certain number of units. On the other hand, my landlord doesn't appear to feel bound by either the legal system or social mores, so it probably never crossed his mind. The string of names he uses for purchasing buildings and the other string he uses for managing buildings are more likely employed to circumvent some tax issue.

I got a call on Monday afternoon from one of the paralegals in the pro bono agency that's handling our eviction case. She gave me a list of demands from the landlord's attorney:
1. Pay rent for September and October immediately in the form of a cashier's check.
"What about August?" I asked. The paralegal didn't know. In fact, she said the landlord's attorney had made a mistake on the Order and listed September twice; she assumed he meant September and October, but she'd look into it. Well, Jeepers! All I've been trying to do is pay my rent for the past two months and no one takes my money.
2. All of my cancelled checks from the duration of my tenancy.
I've lived here for 11 years. Even my bank doesn't cough up checks from beyond 7 years. Each check costs $6 to retrieve from the bank. But to be able to request the check, I first have to know the check number, which could be ascertained from my statements—unless, of course, I don't have the statement, in which case I have to pay for that too. This demand alone could cost me about $1,000.
3. All of my check registers from June 1 to the present.
Why is this necessary if I'm presenting the cancelled checks? Not to mention the fact that they already subpoenaed my bank account and had this information in hand before Monday.
4. All of my statements from June 1 through the present.
Actually, now that I'm reviewing my notes, I'm not sure about this one. My notes read "June, July, August, September." I didn't bother detailing this because the paralegal said she'd e-mail the list to me and as soon as I'd reviewed it, I was to call our lawyer.

Of course, I never got an e-mail.

However, yesterday afternoon, I received another call from someone at the pro bono agency who started to tell me what I thought were the same things I'd heard the day before. So I interrupted her to say as much.

She knew nothing about the previous call, told me when asked that the affidavit we'd signed was useless at this point and she didn't know who would have initiated such a move (the lawyer did, I told her!), said a few other things that were in direct opposition to what the other paralegal had said, and then said a few things that raised my blood pressure until she confessed that she didn't know anything about our case really.

But here's the real reason she called: The attorneys had bumped into one another in court yesterday and the landlord's mouthpiece told my mouthpiece that the landlord would "let" us stay until Spring as long as we paid rent.

There are so many things wrong with this "offer" I hardly know where to begin.

1. We have never NOT paid our rent.
2. We have not broken the lease.
3. Our lease ends on 30 April 2011.
4. "Letting" us stay until Spring doesn't GIVE us anything. We still lose a year's time on the lease while the landlord gains increased rent from that period.
5. By taking this "deal"—which remains open to us only for a 7-day period—we still get screwed and we still look like we were in the wrong. The landlord walks away with a future income increase and his reputation intact.

(Pause for deep breathing...)

On the other hand, I could take this offer as a sign that finally the landlord's mouthpiece realizes that his smarmy client isn't on the right side of the law. He needs to wrap up this case before we have a chance to present our documentation to a judge and jury. At least, that's the bright side and one I'm sticking to until I get a chance to meet with my mouthpiece. No more paralegals filled with misinformation.

Grrr. I'm off to the bank for cashier's checks.

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