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AttyHeather, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 677
Experience:  Attorney with 15 years experience
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We were royally screwed over by over landlady, who

Customer Question

We were royally screwed over by over landlady, who apparently has a rotten reputation throughout our entire neighborhood---she lived here for about 40 years, and apparently, everyone knw her as someone who ripped off workers and tenants. Neighbors said all the previous tenants always complained that she never did any maintenance and tenants were always unhappy. She even had run-ins with the neighbors.
Shortly after we moved in, we noticed the deck seemed unsafe and the back bedroom ceiling had old, spongy water damage. We asked her to have it checked, as El Nino was coming, but she blew us off. Last Dec. 22nd, at 3 am, the entire back ceiling crashed in, and luckily we weren't beneath it. We lived with a ginormous hole in the ceiling that neither she nor her insurance company would fix. So I sat home for two weeks , freezing during the holidays and after a few days, I couldn't breathe. We had an inspection and were told that there was a dangerous mold in the ceiling hole. Still, she would do nothing. The insurance company finally came out and fixed the hole in the roof, but nothing else.
Finally the City of Santa Rosa came out and inspected the ceiling and roof and deck and
red-tagged" the property, deeming it uninhabitable because of the ceiling, deck, an entire exterior wall that had to be removed because of carpenter ant infestation, the floor replaced, and more. We were forced to leave and spent almost 2 months in motels, spending thousands of dollars in living and eating and other costs, which legally, the landlady was required to cover because the property was uninhabitable. She and her family ignored our many please for help. WE also had to continue to pay rent for all of the time the hole was in the roof and we were suffering breathing issues, but had not been told to move out yet.
The family took over for the elderly landlady and refused to even speak to us. They said when the lease was up, they were going to sell, which was very upsetting, since we really loved the place now that everything was fixed. We are planning to send a demand letter (we thought this would be completed back in April/May, when we hired our attorney, but he has dragged his feet like crazy.
So, now we have to be out by December 1st and not only have both of us still had health problems and breathing issues, but my husband's daughter was very ill and we had to help take care of her 3 young kids in a town 3 hours away for the last few weeks. We are so not understanding how wee can be out of here in a couple of weeks. The amount of work is enormous and we're freaking out. We both sleep about 3 hours a night and have intense anxiety.
We're hoping to find some help regarding what our options are if they refuse to accept our request for another month to leave, and if not a month, then at least a week or two. If we simply cannot get out in time and we offer to pay them, would a judge judge us harshly if we explained the circumstances and explained that we tried to pay,e tc. I know they would win, but does anyone have any thought on how to ameliorate the situation? We just don't have the money or the emotional strength to pay a landlord who owes US thousands of dollars and that has put us through hell this past year and it's so damn unfair.
Any suggestions or advice from experience would be very appreciated.
Thank you.
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  AttyHeather replied 10 months ago.

Hi! I'm Heather. I've been a practicing attorney for the last 15 years, and I'd be happy to assist you for informational and educational purposes.

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Okay--thanks. The sooner, the better for us.
Expert:  AttyHeather replied 10 months ago.

The landlord has to give you the amount of time specified in the lease (probably 30 days notice) to vacate in a situation like this. It sounds like the property was absolutely awful, and I really feel for you guys for what you had to go through, but the fact that the property was not properly maintained does not mean that the landlord loses the right to have you leave when the lease is up.

It definitely looks like the landlord owes you money for the expenses you incurred staying in the hotel, and if you had property damage from the ceiling caving in. You should prevail in a case against her for that, but again, the fact that she owes you the money does not mean that she's lost the right to have you leave consistent with the terms of the lease.

If you do not want to leave on the date she stated for you to leave, you can stay, and she will not be able to force you to leave unless she files an eviction action. If you make her file the eviction, you will be able to stay there for more time, but I would think that she should be able to have the eviction completed in a month or so or less. If you do go this route and stay after the date you are supposed to leave, and she in turn, has to file the eviction case, that will diminish what she owes you, because you will owe her money for the wrongful holdover.

Does this help at all?