I got evicted!

How bad does this suck?

I moved into a new apartment in December of last year. Towards the end of the month, I noticed that the roof was leaking. I mentioned it to the landlady that day, who advised me that she couldn’t do anything on that day because it was raining. No problem. I put a bucket down to catch the water, and let it go.

In January, I approach her again about the ceiling. Her response is that there’s no reason to fix it now, because “it’s not raining now.”

I contact my local tenant’s association to find out what my options are. Per their info, I send a certified letter to both her and the owner indicated that, per Louisville (KY) city law, they have 14 days to repair the damages, or I will withhold the rent and pay for the repairs myself. Nothing happens. I mail this on 1/21/03.

On 1/23/03, the apartment complex files an eviction notice due to nonpayment of rent. The sheriff’s office mails a notice to me, and also posts one on my door saying that there’s a court date on 2/12/03.

I never show up. Because, and this seems to be vaguely important to me, I NEVER GOT ANY NOTICES. There was never anything on my door, nor in my mailbox, advising me of this fact. So I don’t show up, because I don’t know there’s anything scheduled.

When I don’t show up, the judgement defaults in favor of the complex. From that date, 2/12/03, I have, within the confines of the law, 7 days to appeal this decision. However, since I had NO knowledge of this hearing taking place, or of this decision, I let the 7-day window lapse.

The first I hear about ANY of this is when the sheriff posts a notice on my door on 2/26/03 saying that I have to be out by 8am 2/28/03.

I call a lwayer, and explain the situation. He files for another hearing, which was on 3/03/03. At this hearing, I advise, under oath, that I had received NOTHING prior to the notice on 2/26/03. The sheriff testifies that they notice that was mailed to me was not returned by the post office, and that the one to be placed on my door WAS delivered. Under the current law, that means that I DID get them, even if I didn’t.

I have NO WAY to prove that I didn’t get the notices. How can you prove you DIDN’T get something? So, because of that, the judgement stays the same. The reason I withheld the rent becomes immaterial, since I would have had the opportunity to go into that at the hearing on 2/12/03. That I didn’t know about.

Personally, though I have no way to prove this, I think the landlady removed the notice from both my door and my mailbox before I saw them. That way, the judgement goes to the complex when I don’t show up for the hearing. The squeaky wheel (me, for throwing a fit about the ceiling) gets replaced.

Interestingly, when I went to talk to the landlady after the hearing, she told me that I NEVER told her about the ceiling. And that Alice, the previous tenant of that apartment, had complaimed about a leaky ceiling, too. And that, when she went to check it out, it was “dry as a bone.” I imagine she probably did so on a day when it wasn’t raining.

What kills me is that, during the hearing on 3/03/03, the judge expressed concerns about the current method of delivering these notices. But was powerless to do anything about it. Current law doesn’t dictate that either of the notices for court require a signature, nor being placed in anyone’s hand.

So, basically, I got screwed by the system. Lucky me, huh?

Wow! That sucks. I guess the bright side is, you’re almost certainly better off with a different landlord.

If he can get a different landlord. We would never rent to someone with a prior eviction.

That really does suck Superdue Does your lawyer think you will be able to sue her? She obviously did remove the notices from your door and mail box. I wonder if anyone saw her.

That’s terrible.

Can you check with your neighbors to see if anyone saw her and/or the notices? At the least you should warn them how you were treated.

I hope you can find a better place.

Maybe you should file a letter of explanation and protest with the credit bureau and the BBB as well as the renter’s association you mentioned earlier. Keep copies of these and when you begin to search for a new apartment explain how all of this happened. It might be helpful to find out if this property owner has similiar events in its past business dealings. If you have good rental history other than this, you should be able to work around this incident.
Good luck.

So, what happens to people with prior evictions if landlords won’t rent to them? Perpetual homelessness? Seems to me that people need a place to live whether they deserve it or not. I’m not saying that landlords are under any obligation to rent to people without getting paid, but I’ll bet with the economy the way it is, we’re due for a LOT of evictions, and not because people are lazy or shiftless.

I am just telling you about the apartment complex I worked for. We didn’t rent to anyone with a prior eviction for any reason.

I would assume that the people we wouldn’t rent to usually rented from people who didn’t run credit checks. Individuals who only own one or two rentals don’t often run credit checks or don’t know what to look for if they do.

Jesus. That sucks. I’d say more, but this isn’t the pit.

Regarding getting into a new apartment with an eviction on your record.

I work in a “CLass A” apartment community in South Jersey. Although many complexes do check refrences we never do. If you can pass the credit check and prove your income, you can live here.

Your best bet in finding a new place is to find somwhere like us, who does not check refrences. The way to go about this is to ask “innocent” questions about the application process. Something like, “Ok, so I need to fill out an application, give you a security deposit and what else?” If they mention a reference check, don’t waste your money.

What your previous landlord did was unethical, but seems impossible to prove. I would still file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and the appropriate state agency. Also, talk to your neighbors and see if anyone else has a similar complaint.

At any rate, you’re better off somwhere else.

Good luck,
TDC

where are you living now?

Superdude
Member

Location: The Fortress of Solidude

:wink:

Seriously, you may want to ask your attorney whether you can file a motion to set aside the default and default judgment based upon mistake or excusable neglect.

However, fighting it may be more cost than it’s worth.

If you have a certified letter stating that you’re going to stop paying your rent until the roof is fixed, surely that invalidates an eviction based on your failure to pay rent. Was this covered in the second hearing?

Damn babe. That sucks…

Something doesn’t make sense here. Were you paying rent or did you withhold the rent?

I ask because I had a similar problem in my Massachusettes appartment. I researched MA law and here are the steps you should take:

-Written letter to landlord asking them to fix the problem.
-Call to the town housing commission or whoever to inspect the appartment
-Letter to landlord threatening to withold rent
-Withold rent

TAKE PICTURES AND KEEP COPPIES OF EVERYTHING!

This is important because according to MA law, if the landlord tries to evict you or raise your rent by a significant amount, you can sue them for retaliatory action. Also, you have proof that you aren’t withholding the rent because you are a deadbeat.

Maybe you should have had the letter to your landlady notarized, then made a copy of it that you could have shown to the judge. Since the notary would have put the date he/she sealed it, it would be proof that you notified the landlady of the ceiling leak well before you withheld your rent.

Certified mail only would prove you mailed something to a person and that they received something from you if you required signature. It doesn’t guarantee the delivery of the actual content of the mailing, so your landlady could have said you mailed her a letter saying how much you enjoyed living there.

Yes this is also a good idea.

In general, most courts are tenent friendly but you need to provide some kind of proof.

Did you pay your rent for January?

If they filed on 1/23, they claim you were already in arears for January, well before you sent them any claim about withholding or repairs.

By your account of what you mailed to them, you had no right to withhold rent in January OR February, assuming rent was due on the first of the month.

I’m sorry. That’s really a raw deal, Supe.

At least you know to document things a little more thoroughly next time.

Good luck with finding another place.

Just in case others find themselves in a similar situation: the standard thing New Yorkers do (and with our wack rent laws, landlord v. tenant is a huge deal here) is to pay the rent into a separate escrow account. In fact, if you’ve contacted a lawyer first - always a better option - ask your lawyer about creating the account, so the money is no longer under your control (if you haven’t contacted a lawyer, a bank may be able to help set up an escrow account, too). That way you show that the money is there, out of your hands, and you’re not just jerking the landlord around to avoid payment. This can be an important element of showing good faith if you have to go to court later.

Do you have a local tenant’s union? They might have some options.

But if you are resigned to your fate, your final act should be to write a letter of suggestion to the sheriff’s office with a copy to the judge (and the tenant’s union). Remark that in instances of landlord-tenant disputes, it should NEVER be considered sufficient notice by simply delivering the letter by mail or posting on a door. Why? Because both the mailbox and the door are ON THE LANDLORD’S PROPERTY. The landlord has access to these places, and one with bad intentions can prevent you from getting these documents.

The only acceptable means of delivery would be certified mail OR sending it to your work address. You hope they will consider this in the future.