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socrateaser
socrateaser, Lawyer
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Retired (mostly)
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I live in a house with room mates. My room is in a basement

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I live in a house with room mates. My room is in a basement area, accessible only after climbing half a flight of stairs to access the house, and another half flight down to the basement area. There is also a garage door which, if I were able to use it provides stair free access to my room. My room is in an extension of a gardening indoor operation. It is hot when hot outside, and cold when cold outside. It has 1 small window, 3 walls, 1 plastic tarp wall with a sometimes functional zipper door requiring me to bend over to the floor to open or close my "door". Going into the room requires me to stoop under the zipper, while stepping over a 4" sill, making access extremely difficult and painful.

The paroled felon here falsely claims to all, including his parole officer, that he is my "caregiver". He doesn't have a clue as to what my disability is, or its treatment, and yet tells all officials he is the "caregiver".

Conditions have become so unlivable...spider infestation seems to be too big a bother for the "caregiver". He told me I should buy the proper materials to build a physical wall and door. And then, he said I should build the wall. I have been disabled with chronic pain in my legs for over 20 years, and this guy is telling me to buy and build a wall to make my room a real room.

The "caregiver" is NOT the landlord...he simply rents a room and collects everyone else's rent.

Is this treatment legal? Is it actionable? Is the "caregiver" allowed to continue his deception? Is the "caregiver" allowed to use deposit money to buy drugs?
Hello,

Before I try to answer your question, can you please tell me whether or not you could afford to rent elsewhere, if you were required to vacate the premises?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

My rent is $450/month. I live on a fixed income of about $1000/month. I am 64, and cannot afford the rentals here, but have been told if I didn't like conditions, I was welcome to leave.


 


As the "caregiver" is in the process of kicking out the only other tenant in the garage area, to make room for more plant "growing", I know I will be next, since my room is in an area of plant production anyway.


 


Conditions have become unlivable. I am planning to move out of state, back to Tennessee, where I have friends and some family to help.


 


What this guy who is 37 is doing OUGHT TO BE ILLEGAL.


 

Okay, thanks.

The reason I asked about your ability to move is because I don't want to put you in a position of being forced out of the property by the local building inspector.

What you can do is contact your city or county (if you're not in a city) code enforcement department and ask for an inspection of the property. The inspector will come out and determine if the property is to code. Frankly, the basement probably has no certificate of occupancy, and if not, then the property owner may be cited for a violation of the building code. However, this action will mean that you will have about 30-60 days to vacate the premises. So, while your action may get you "justice" against the property owner and this "pseudo-caretaker," it will also mean that you will be packing your bags and moving.

The good news, is that if the property fails to satisfy the code enforcement officer, then the owner can't charge you any rent -- and the owner can't evict you, either. The owner will have to fix everything that's wrong, before you can be held liable to anyone -- except the city or county -- which can require you to vacate because the property violates the local codes and state health and safety laws.

Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.
socrateaser and 6 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I have been in this room since January, paying $450 a month, and did I mention my "bathroom" is a toilet and sink in the laundry room? No shower.


 


Can I collect back rent I have paid since January?


 


Also, which court should I file in if it comes to that? And lastly, on this part at least, can I continue this action from Tennessee without having to appear again in a California court?


 


Thank you for your help thus far. You will be receiving your payment from me with a grand recommendation!

I have been in this room since January, paying $450 a month, and did I mention my "bathroom" is a toilet and sink in the laundry room? No shower.

 

A: Code violation.


Can I collect back rent I have paid since January?


A: You could take the landlord to small claims court and claim diminished value of the rental based upon "substantial dilapidations." You would have to show the court that the value of the rental is less than what you paid, in order to recover the difference. You could do this based upon the fact that the property was not "tenantable" according to code enforcement. You would need to get a certified copy of the officer's inspection report to submit as evidence.

 

Also, which court should I file in if it comes to that?

A: Small claims department of the Superior Court for the County of [county where property is located]. Click here for locations.

And lastly, on this part at least, can I continue this action from Tennessee without having to appear again in a California court?

A: No. That would be legally impossible. Only you can represent yourself in small claims court. You can't appear by telephone, either. And, you can't sue in a Tennessee Court.

Hope this helps.