Friday, March 26, 2021

Legal hive mind

     My scumbag slumlord just announced that he's jacking up our rent... by a LOT. Our lease expired at the end of last month so now I'm living, artificially, as a tenant at will. Massachusetts law stipulates there's no limit to how much he can jack up our rent, even during a pandemic.

     What are my options? Is it even worth calling my state AG or the US Attorney's office? The son of a bitch has been trying to squeeze us out of here since he first bought the property four and a half years ago. Now he's using the fact my oven died as a pretext to seriously jack up my rent for the third time in four years. The CDC's eviction moratorium ends on the 31st of this month. 

     Here's the thing: We now don't have an oven, which he needs to provide for us so as not to run afoul of the state sanitation guidelines. Massachusetts building codes also stipulate that every apartments must have at two entrances and exits per fire code laws. We have one. A former owner supposedly got around this by installing a ladder on the side of the house that can only be accessed by climbing out our bedroom window, walking on an overhang then climbing down. However, in the event of a fire, this would be a no-go as we put our air conditioner in that same bedroom window, thereby denying us that second egress.

     He also didn't give us adequate notice of the rent increase. He came by just today to get his rent for March and when Mrs. JP informed him of the oven dying, through no fault of our own, he got huffy, said he "doesn't want to do this anymore," and announced he was jacking up our rent by a lot. I've reached out to my friends on Facebook and have been madly doing research on several things. But aside from suing him for violation of the sanitary and building codes (oven and second egress), it doesn't even seem worth my time to call the state AG's or the US Attorney's office.

Addendum: Well, my asshole landlord, Bill Wyskoczka, just gave us an eviction notice to quit the premises in 14 days or he's taking us to court. He's charging us with non payment of rent, even though he didn't make the slightest attempt to collect it and had been at our house earlier this morning and could've collected it but hadn't. In other words, he'd artificially created this situation so he can kick us out, rehab the unit and charge the next poor sucker who moves in two or three times what we're now paying. So, thoughts, advice?


At March 27, 2021 at 9:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm really sorry this is happening to you.

At March 27, 2021 at 3:47 PM, Anonymous Comrade Rutherford said...

Document everything, photos and descriptions, every violation, with a timeline of what he's done since he bought the building, and eagerly go to court with that. When was the last time he painted the interior walls? Does your state have a timeline for that? As for the ladder, that is probably acceptable in a legal sense, and that you put an AC in that window is not his fault - but I don't know for sure.
The question is, what do you want as your goal? To live there still?
The question for the court is, 'Why would the court contemplating increasing the homeless population when this landlord is in such egregious violation of state law?'
I've seen articles that state that what your landlord is doing is a common practice now all over the country: jack the rate illegally, not even try to collect, and then file eviction for non-payment. The results depend on the state it happens in.
Finally, I suggest you contact your state's Legal Aid group and see what advice they can provide. (I'm in a tax dispute with the IRS because they can't comprehend how a family of five can survive on $30K a year, so they are refusing to accept our declaration of insolvency because of a 1099 my wife got in 2017 from Citibank for credit card debt. I could not have even tried to fight the IRS without Vermont Legal Aid)

At March 27, 2021 at 4:08 PM, Blogger jurassicpork said...

Good suggestions, Comrade, thanks. Where I'm going to start, however, is to have my bank print up my balance sheet going back to the beginning of December. This will prove, going back four months, that when the money shows up in my checking account, I deduct the exact amount of money that my rent comes to earlier than it's due. I'm also bringing all my rent receipts (that are dated, I believe) going back to 2009 when I first moved in here (12 years ago today). I'm also going to try to get my last landlord, who lives feet away from me with his father, to writ me a testimonial saying that when he was my landlord, I never once paid the rent late.

Then I'll see about searching for a tenants rights organization that offers legal aid. My goal is simply to be able to move out on our terms, at a time and place of our choosing, and to eventually get this sociopath out of our lives. But we want to land some place that's softer than the street or whatever shelter may be in the area.

At March 28, 2021 at 1:26 PM, Anonymous Comrade Rutherford said...

There is no 'however' to where you are starting! That is exactly the kind of documentation I was talking about. Bank statements and receipts are what courts love. They prove that you are paying your rent in full and on time.
Also document the things he is not doing as landlord. The broken oven, and how that is being used as an excuse to evict you.

At March 28, 2021 at 1:32 PM, Blogger jurassicpork said...

That's right. If I've learned anything in life, it's that courts love paperwork.


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