Ever rented a property and had things go wrong? Outlets don’t work, mold on the premises, heater/AC causing too much stress and anxiety? Let me in on a little secret. Calling an attorney shouldn't be your first step. With a little hard work, you can usually work the problem out on your own. Doing so will also help to build your case if you do need an attorney in the future.
If this has ever happened to you, the best thing to do is to document EVERYTHING. Leaks in the walls? Take pictures. Bug infestation? Take pictures. Cracks in drywall? TAKE PICTURES. Always be sure to document all the damage done.
Your next step is to contact the landlord or the property management company. Contact via mail or email, so that you have a paper trail. If they fail to fix the problem and/or you are waiting too long, file a complaint with the city. This will ensure that the city comes to inspect the property, free of charge, and will get your landlord on notice that there are problems with the property.
If your landlord continues to drag his or her feet, NOW is the time to think about getting an attorney.
As your attorney, I will assess the facts and likely take the case on a contingency fee arrangement. This means that you will pay nothing on the case. If you recover nothing, you are not out any money. This is a risk for the attorney, as the attorney pays the costs. With a recovery, those costs are reimbursed before the remaining settlement is divvied up amongst the parties. Attorneys take a higher portion of the settlement (33%-50%, depending on what phase of litigation the case settles in), but the higher percentage, the higher the risk.
Once it is determined that you have a case and a fee arrangement is agreed upon, the attorney usually runs a title search to determine the landlord for the duration of your lease. This is to ensure all the correct parties are named. A demand letter is written and if settlement can be reached, it will be discussed amongst the parties.
Absent a settlement, a court filing will be made, in the form of a complaint. Additional discovery – depositions, questions to the other side, record requests, etc. – will be performed and the case will proceed forward in court.
It is very important to note that many cases settle before trial. Don’t be surprised if the parties sit down to mediation before trial even begins.
It is also important to note that you cannot be evicted or punished for filing a claim. This is illegal and additional causes of action can and will likely be brought against your landlord.
You as the tenant have rights, and it is my job as your attorney to make sure you are well protected.
Document everything from the start. Furthermore, you pay nothing in the majority of these cases. Most cases settle, depending on a variety of factors, and you cannot be harassed in any way for filing a claim. This essentially means you have nothing to lose in contacting me today for a free consultation.
I look forward to hearing from you.