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All Too Typical - A Middle-Class Landlord Trashed By "Justice"

Nothing just about this.

By Guest Editorial  |  August 21, 2008

Scragged regularly covers appalling stories of people whose lives are ruined and liberties trampled by our overweening bureaucracy.  From children being summarily yanked from their homes on false pretexts, to confiscating a disabled man's home for a trivial "offense", there is no depth to which bureaucrats and their abettors in the justice system will not stoop, safely covered by their regulations.  As our founders complained that King George had "sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance," so now hardly a day goes by but what a new and worse indignity comes to light.

The following account was submitted by a Scragged reader.  We have no way of independently determining its accuracy.  In a way, the fact that it sounds utterly plausible at face value is its scariest aspect: have we become so used to injustice that we expect it, and simply learn to live with it?  Patrick Henry would be ashamed of us.

My wife and I own a rental property in Pittsfield NH. Our tenant was a professional roofer who fell off a roof in Concord, broke his back, and was collecting $1800 a month disability. His wife and 21 year old son worked, all living at the house. They moved in in Jan. 2008.

The tenant has a per diem lawyer suing his former employer for $2.5 million for "pain and suffering" of his back. When the tenant moved in, even though I checked his references and background, he neglected to mention he was on a 24 hour a day prescription Oxycodone patch, oral Vicodin for pain, and liked his Budweiser.

Anyways, on March 9, the tenant fell on the stairs while going to bed at 1am, broke his nose, and required 20 stitches. He "did not fall downstairs", he fell down "going upstairs to bed", despite 2 handrails. In April we received no rent check, and made a call as to its tardiness. We were given the proverbial "the check is in the mail". A week later, still no check, and another call was made. The tenant with his cell phone could see whom was calling and simply refused to answer.

In May, still no rent check for April, and now none for May. Several visits to the dwelling in person and meetings with the son who simply said the father (the tenant) was not there (though his car was in the driveway) forced us to the legal route of eviction. Demand for payment was sent certified mail, and returned, unclaimed. Again, I went to the property and posted the demand for payment and a 30 day eviction notice to the locked door. In June, I had the Sheriff bring his eviction notice, and arrange a court appearance.

At the end of June, I appeared in county court for the eviction hearing. At that time I was served with a lawsuit for the tenant's medical bills for his broken nose, stitches, and let's not forget, "additional pain and suffering", asking for $100,000.

The tenant at the eviction hearing was represented by his per diem attorney, who simply stated his client was DISABLED and "was behind" on payment due to the harsh winter, among other things. In the end, the judge ruled that he he owed only $1000 for 1 month rent, as he never received legal notice until May. He was gone by July 7, a total of 4 months free rent, and most of July was lost for cleaning and finding another tenant.

His lawsuit against me continues, and although my attorney assures me I have nothing to worry about, I am aware that a lady can buy hot coffee at McDonald's, spill some on her lap, and be awarded over 10 million dollars. One would think that I would have insurance for such an incidence, but as it turned out to my surprise, I did not - after years of paying premiums for what I thought was complete coverage, the company now claims only to insure me for fire.

My ex-tenant's per diem attorney is essentially working for free, on a commission of the settlement, so all motions to dismiss and all motions to proceed are stuck in legal limbo. This could take years, and my attorney is not cheap - I have to pay him up front.  The tenant had a lease till Jan. 09, which he signed, and article 31 of the lease plainly states that I "am not liable for personal injuries nor damages to him or his family", yet the case continues.

When and if I eventually get to court, if I am lucky enough to get a REPUBLICAN judge, I will win in 5 minutes.  However, if it's a DEMOCRAT judge, I will probably lose everything I own, to a deadbeat medical junkie who knows the system.  And for the record, I was never informed at any time that the tenant fell on the stairs, broke his nose, and required stitches, until I was served papers in Concord, 3 months after the fact, a real shocker.  This is how bad and corrupt justice and the court system has become.

In case you are thinking, "Well, serves that rich slumlord right!", you should know that the rental property was actually my 96 year old mother's house signed over to me in 1990.  I have rented it out to support her $3000 a month "assisted living" accommodations, and $5400 yearly property taxes.  In 8 years, I have never made a penny profit.  If that's "rich", I'd hate to see poverty - but unless I'm fortunate enough to come before a just judge, that's what's staring my family in the face.

Our informant promised to keep us informed.  The mills of "justice" grind extremely slowly these days; it may be a while.  Watch for comments.