Sunday, September 23, 2012
FACING A VERY LARGE CHALLENGE
The above is a "letter from hell" that supposidly was received by English authorities by Jack The Ripper. I received almost a doomsday letter in the last month from my landlord of thirteen years. My partner and I had moved into our apartment thirteen years ago after I lived with our present landlord for over two years in his own house. This apartment became available and I happily went to inspect it. Unfortunatly, I found that the weeds on the property were overrun, there was plumbing problems, holes in the plaster and the unit had cockroaches. I reported this back to my slash roommamte/landlord and was told "Take It Or Leave It." Now since I needed an apartment very soon to accomodate my new domestic partner, I took it hoping that my relationship with the landlord would "convince him" that he had certain duties as a landlord. Boy was I wrong. When you're cheap, my friends, your cheap. My dad used to say that "some guys pinch a penny so hard, Lincoln not only screams, he storms off the coin--and you shouldn't piss off a guy like Abraham Lincoln." For seven long years nothing was done by the landlord to remedy the cockroach problem. I also moved into a apartment that was not painted, the rug was shabby, and there were all the above mentioned problems. Fast foward to 2006 and finally some attention was made to the problem, but not on a regular basis and the roaches by that time had simply taken over everything. Their little trail of poop was everywhere: on the walls, on the kitchen cupboards, and in the bathroom. My partner and I had maid service from 2006-2008 atwhich time I lost my job becoming disabled and had to let te maid go. Fast foward to 2011-2012 and the same landlord must have found a conscience in a vending machine because then he started spraying regularly. Preparing for one of these "events" is tarumatic to be sure for one must empty all kitchen and bathroom cupboards and load them into your living room. In June of 2012, the Dewey Pest Control guys and the landlord decided that they needed "an official scapegoat". Now they couldn't go after the "Section Eight" tenant, so that left my domestic partner and I and the poor slob in Apartment #3-- who didn't even own a vacuum cleaner. My partner and I had given up hope. We stayed because the rent was rent controled and relatively cheap. The landlord's note on July 23 wanted us to clean up our act and that he would help us by working with us and suppyling cleaning supplies. X nay on the help and supplies and another spraying was scheduled for August 30th. We hired a professional cleaner to the tune of $120.00 on August 28th. He scrubbed the kitchen and bathroom for four hours. The landlord secretly took pictures without our permission and on the Tuesday after Labor Day", we received a three day notice to clean and perform covenants or quit--the letter from hell. Within the the three days on Thursday, we hired another professional cleaning team of two women for $180.00 and we paid our september rent and in the same enclosure by certified mail with return receipt we informed the landlord that we intended to perform the cleaning within the time limit. The three day notice had specified that the landlord did not intend to evict if we had cleaned. That turned out to be a lie and we received a lawsuit on the following Tuesday evening. The landlord was supposed to install a carbon monoxide filter. That was an agenda item because he returned our rent check and said he wanted us out. He then proceeded to the kitchen where he took dirt out of his pocket, threw it on the floor and took the ironing board (which we never use these days) and other items to make our kitchen look dirty. He then whipped out his camera to take pictures of "the mess' and we immediately challenged him and ordered him to leave the apartment-- it was still ours. By Wednesday, there was a gas smell in my living room and we called the Gas Company. We had a heater that had not operted in four and a half years and had been silently and steadily emitting a leak ever since. Thank God no one was permitted to smoke in our apartment and we didn't light matches. We then called the Health Department who discovered the roaches and all manner of other violations and he wrote the landlord up. Amazingly, the landlord did a 180 and informed us he was going to "fix everything" but was proceeding with the eviction or unlawful detainer. The court filing fee was over two hundred dollars, I myself being spared the same fee because I'm on Social Security. This last month has been an absolute nightmare. The lesson we learned: call the health department and the housing authority way early. Don't delay. Every apartment in California has an implied warranty that it is 100% totally habitable-- free from roaches, black widow spiders, rotting floors etc. Don't let this happen to you. The landlord can not punish you for calling the Health Department.