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Roger
Roger, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
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Experience:  BV Rated by Martindale-Hubbell; SuperLawyer rating by West
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I am a disabled senior citizen in a wheelchair and on oxygen

Resolved Question:

I am a disabled senior citizen in a wheelchair and on oxygen 24/7. I moved into a nice trailer on private property in December of last year. in January the heater broke, spoke to landlord before having the contractor fix it, but got nothing in writing. later even though the lease says that landlord was responsible for fixing the heater he decided we should "split the cost". I did not agree to that/ couldn't didn't have enough money to do that, he refused to pay the repairs. in late feb he had the propane tank removed. I tried to have the propane company leave the tank but they told my lawyer and I that the landlord had told them that I have been evicted. (no! even though my lawyer and I registered a complaint to the company the company went ahead and kept their tank that they had removed stating I could get a tank from some other company.) Turns out that would have been a very expensive. then I incurred a huge bill from the electric company because I was keeping warm with electricity. mid march the landlord surrendered the property to the original owner and even though Georgia has a 60 day notice for a landlord to terminate a lease, the new owner gave me a 30 day letter. the view seemed to be that he didn't have to live up to the terms on the lease either. this was done on april 9, 2013. I was left without a propane tank. So I was accruing more electricity charges and not able to cook a good hot meal as time rolled on. I complained to the local senior citizen protection group whose response was that they would send DFCS into move me to somewhere safe; I have been trying to get moved this last few weeks, but I have 5 cats (which was written into my lease) and it does take time to find somewhere for us. It took several months to find this place. however because of the various landlords various irresponsibility to maintaining the property, I have been unable to save any money to get moved on and have even been without food for me (not the cats) such that I lost weight. now tomorrow I have to go to magistrate court and tell the court why the sheriff shouldn't just dump me out in the street - a dispossessory hearing. I believe they did a defacto unlawful eviction in mid march and I have just been surviving here while I attempt to find another place and get out of here. I literally have $100 to my name and no where to go now. can I ask the judge for several months? do I have grounds to do a counter claim for all the costs incurred here when the landlord did not pay for maintenance items? oh, I tried to pay rent to the new owner when he gave me the exit letter but he wouldn't take it...I was still forced to pay electricity bills in excess of my rent etc. I can take receipts for what I paid to the courthouse, but will that count as rent paid? the lease does not mention anything like that scenario because it says point blank that fixing the heater was the landlord's responsibility to pay not the tenant. is there any protection available to me as a disabled senior citizen?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Roger replied 1 year ago.

Hi - my name is XXXXX XXXXX I'm a Real Estate litigation attorney. Thanks for your question, but I'm certainly sorry for your predicament.

You have a right to stay in the property until a court enters an eviction order, and USUALLY a court will give the tenant 10-30 days to vacate depending on the circumstances. And, you certainly have the right to ask the judge to give you some additional time to move out because you're having trouble finding somewhere else to live. The judge will try to be accommodating, but he/she isn't likely to allow you to remain for months.

As for your right to file a counterclaim for damages, you certainly can do that. You can sue for the landlord breaching the lease by failing to repair the heater - - at the very least, the cost of repairs should come off of what you owe in rent. Asking for the utility bill increase because of the use of electricity may be a stretch BECAUSE you could have paid to have the heater repaired, which would likely have been cheaper than the increased utility payments. You can ask for this, BUT it will be a little more difficult to get an award for that.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Relist: Answer quality.
need the lawyer to answer the questions that
I have asked specifically and not try to answer in generalities.
Expert:  Roger replied 1 year ago.
Hi - if you'll let me know what wasn't specifically responded to, I'll be glad to provide an answer.

I thought my answer covered the questions asked.

Thanks.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.


if I wasn't clear before, I did pay to have the heater repaired...and then he demanded that we split the cost of the repairs. he didn't ask me he demanded that.


 


one of my questions is that since the lease identified it was his responsibility to maintain the property, shouldn't he pay for all the repairs? his next move was to remove part of the heating system - the propane tank. the deputy that came out when I complained that this was life threatening to me stated that he had in her opinion at the removal of a utility enacted an unlawful eviction at that time. she said that when a landlord removes a utility to make someone move it is in fact considered an unlawful eviction but not a criminal event. so again my question is that since this landlord has never performed according to the lease or provided a modicum of reasonable maintenance shouldn't I be able to ask the judge to have him live up to the lease? or at least get a good extension for staying since I have paid out all the money I have / had during this time frame to paying for maintenance that the landlord should have done.


 


then what does the americans with disabilities act provide for someone in my dire straights? I entered into this lease in good faith, the landlord scammed me from the beginning and now all my money is gone? I need several months of reasonable utilities to be able to scrounge together the $1200 it took to move in here, the money for repairing the heater, and so on. I am not yet recovered from the move much less paying for all the stuff that I did.


 


been scammed from the beginning...

Expert:  Roger replied 1 year ago.

Hi - thanks for writing back.

 

YES, if the lease says he will cover all repairs, then he should do just that. Usually, if the landlord refuses to cover the costs, the tenant will take the money for the cost of repairs and take it off of the next month's rent to even things out. If you didn't do that, then you would be able to seek the cost you paid for the repairs - - the entire amount.

 

If the landlord removed the propane tank to force you to move, that was illegal and you certainly could have acted on that immediately. BUT, your recourse is to file complaints with the court to require the landlord to comply with the lease.

 

Unfortunately, your recourse is not going to be to ask the court for more time to stay in the property. IF you have more months left on your lease, and IF you are not in default, then you could request to be allowed to stay for the remainder of your lease. However, if the lease term is up or if you are also in default, then you should not expect to be given a protracted period of time to remain there.

 

IF you are in default because you have had to pay for the repairs - - and if the repairs are as much or more than the rent due - - then you certainly could make that argument as well and claim that you should be given credit for the cost of repairs and be allowed to continue your tenancy. This would ONLY work if the repairs are at least as much as the unpaid rent.

 

The ADA would protect you if you were being discriminated against in some manner because of your disability. I don't know if that's the case or not, but it sounds more like its a breach of contract matter and doesn't relate to the ADA. Also, the ADA doesn't provide rights or extended protection for renters in terms of time to vacate upon eviction.

 

Please let me know if you have more questions.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.


I think we are getting there. are there laws to cover the cost of repairs being paid by landlord or is it simply because the contract say so?


 


so it is a tort thing...can the landlord not pay for repairs - make me pay for them - and then use another paragraph of the lease to have me move out?


 


could I claim the costs of the repairs in this action or do I have to file a different law suite? ie will the judge rule of my costs or just address the issue of eviction?


 


if the law of the county is 60 days notice and the lease says 30, will the judge uphold the 60 or go by the lease....is the lease valid for some paragraphs still when the landlord never provided reasonable maintenance on the property?


 


is the rent still due if maintenance is not done or part of the heating system is removed in the middle of the winter? ie if the landlord does not provide the property as described (with heat) is the rent still due? if not, is there a law or regulation that covers that?


 


aren't there laws - federal or something else - covering removing part of the heating system in the middle of the winter?


 


It was even physically painful...I almost started going to a counselor because I got very depressed about the whole situation.


 


thanks for your help; pl let me know how to find the references I might need in court. I have no one to go with me.


 


 

Expert:  Roger replied 1 year ago.
Yes, there are statutes that require the landlord to make repairs. Here's a link that outlines the law: http://www.elkgrovepd.org/prevention/printables/repairs.pdf. Also, you have a contract that you can rely on.

Yes, this is a tort action, and the landlord can be in default of some provision (failure to repair) and you can be in violation of some other provision, and the landlord can still evict.

You can file a counter-claim for the cost of repairs - - you don't have to file a separate lawsuit.

If the law is that a 60 day notice is required, then the time can't be any shorter, so a 30 day notice would likely be considered void as against public policy and in violation of the law.

Yes, rent is still due even if repairs aren't made. You can usually apply the cost of the repairs to the rent, but you generally can't just stop paying.

Yes, if the landlord removed your heating in the middle of winter to try and force you out, you should report that to the Georgia Attorney General's Office - - Consumer Fraud Division and ask for help prosecuting this landlord.

Let me know if you have any additional questions.
Roger, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 26108
Experience: BV Rated by Martindale-Hubbell; SuperLawyer rating by West
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