Unlawful detainer

By Lonifinch

We were given a three day notice to pay or quit when we were already on constructive eviction. There were pipes leaking in the bathroom, combined with poor ventilation, resulted in mold build-up. There was suffocating levels of secondhand smoke in my apartment, and exposed electrical wires. Then we found bedbugs in our bedroom. We went to stay at my mom’s (all rent was current at the time); the bathroom was supposed to be redone, the pipes fixed and mold cleaned up, and the bug problem treated. Eight days later, we found a live bug, the exterminator (Termimix) left chemical dust all over our furniture, and the bathroom had not been touched. The manager told us: 1) the mold is due to inadequate cleaning 2) Terminix “found no evidence of bedbugs.” 3) The rent increased by sixty dollars. 4) We owed $175 for the pest control and 5) we received the notice to pay or quit. We removed all or our furniture the next day and cleaned the apartment the day after that. We wrote a letter stating our intent to terminate the lease. Two days later an unlawful detainer notice was posted on the door. We went to the court hearing to ask for the possession for judgment complaint be dismissed, since we complied with the notice to quit. The attorney refused, then later assented, and dismissed the case. They now need to file a new complaint to have money issues heard.

My questions are as follows: 1) would the filing of the unlawful detainer be considered retaliatory actions? 2) What do we do about it? 3) Can we sue the landlord? 4) What type of lawyer would be best for our representation, landlord/tenant, personal injury, or something else? 5) They made sure we could not give permission to the premises to the housing inspector, is there a way to overcome this? 6) We want to prevent future tenants from suffering through these issues, how can we be most successful to that end?

Edited on: Friday, March 27th, 2009 5:21 pm

One Response to “Unlawful detainer”

My response: (We welcome stories, examples, explanations, answers and a touch of your personality)

Randy Hepworth

April 2nd, 2009 6:58 am

Even though you complied with the 3 day notice it is possible for the management company to seek damages if you ended the agreement prematurely. No, filing the unlawful detainer is not considered retaliatory– it is the required court action to move tenants out after an eviction has been served.
If your landlord does file another suite you could be in trouble, unless you can prove that they breached their contract by not providing a habitable space. By the way– they have pretty good proof if they can show the courts that they paid to have the unit exterminated at your request. It can be tricky to get a judge to listen to you.
The best option is to try to work it out with the landlord before it goes to court. See what they are trying to charge you and why. It is always easier and less expensive to negotiate outside of court. In fact the RPA can mediate for you. You will need to file a landlord complaint by clicking on the “file complaint” link at the top of this page. RPA Mediation will be probably the most fair option. (You will have to pay a minimal filing fee– I think its around $30)


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