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Old 09-01-2013, 09:57 AM   #16
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Landlord/Tenant - Law Advice Needed


I can't recall the wording, but a contract for illegal goods or services is not an enforceable contract.

I remember that from business law class long ,long ago

So I back up Rusty Baker on this ----------

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Old 09-01-2013, 10:32 AM   #17
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Landlord/Tenant - Law Advice Needed


Quote:
Originally Posted by rusty baker View Post
A judge will not give you money if you don't have clean hands. If you don't have the legal right to rent, you cannot collect. That is from a friend who is an attorney.
Any attorney that knows real estate and tenant law would know it various WIDELY across different jurisdictions. They'd also know giving advice out of that context would be inadvisable.

Now, would it be a good idea to go forth without a firm understanding of the responsibilities and the possible failures to meet them? Of course not, but that's just common sense in any situation. Which is the point I made earlier.

But that isn't the same as actual law, precedent and how the courts handle it in a given jurisdiction. This having been raised by a real estate attorney, done paralegal work myself, and having a spouse and various friends that are attorneys. Along with having been on both sides of contract disputes, which this fundamentally is. There's quite a difference between illegal acts and activities done outside permitted requirements. Of course you couldn't hold someone liable for say, failure to act as a hitman for someone you paid them to kill. That would certainly fail to pass legal muster. And while being involved in a tenant/landlord situation may often feel criminal, that's not the same as being illegal. Too many armchair lawyers that pretend to understand the law fail to grasp it's not always quite so simple.

Is it worth pursuing? Not without a better understanding of the risks and weighing them against the likely outcomes.
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Old 09-01-2013, 06:42 PM   #18
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Landlord/Tenant - Law Advice Needed


If you're willing to gamble (and it IS a gamble) by spending some more money. A registered gimme letter from an attorney might get her to cough up some more money, but it might not. And you'd be out the $150 or so for the attorney fee.

She only owes you $2300. Consider it a semester of a cheap college and thank goodness you got the education now!
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Old 09-12-2013, 02:43 PM   #19
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Landlord/Tenant - Law Advice Needed


The one advantage that you do have is a note from her, pretty much admitting that she is shorting you a certain amount of money because of what she percieves is a defect. You'd only have to prove that the amount owed should not have been offset by any living conditions that she felt were below standards. You also have the advantage that she made no reasonable notification to you of any such defect. Without a lease, she was a "tenant at will" and is still obligated to pay the agreed upon amount of rent.
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Old 09-12-2013, 06:33 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Maintenance 6 View Post
The one advantage that you do have is a note from her, pretty much admitting that she is shorting you a certain amount of money because of what she percieves is a defect. You'd only have to prove that the amount owed should not have been offset by any living conditions that she felt were below standards. You also have the advantage that she made no reasonable notification to you of any such defect. Without a lease, she was a "tenant at will" and is still obligated to pay the agreed upon amount of rent.
This was exactly my thought!!! I get it, I don't want to live in a house full of clutter but if this was truly a problem I would have certainly said something.

I have a feeling she must not have had the money and is using this as an excuse. I began to write a letter. I'm in the stages of fine tuning it but I will send her a letter and if I don't hear anything back, I may proceed with small claims. Regardless of being an official landlord, you're right she was an "at-will" tenant and could have left any time she wanted...

I'll try and keep ya'll posted as to what happens.

Thanks for all the input, I truly appreciate it!
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Old 09-13-2013, 12:16 PM   #21
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Landlord/Tenant - Law Advice Needed


Two things can screw you if you try to go all legal on her.

In most major cities a residence must be specifically zoned for rental by local L&I. If this is the case in your area and you didn't comply, she can rat you out there.

Did you properly declare the rental income in your state and federal taxes? If not, she can rat you out to the IRS or to state authorities.

The lack of an enforceable contract will also screw you. The fact that she paid you SOMETHING for prior balances works in your favor. It means she knew she wasn't living there for free and she knew she owed you SOMETHING. But the lack of documentation means the question of 'how much' will be a he-said, she said situation. She can always say when she met you in person you two negotiated lower rent, then you tried to jack it back up on her and get more cash when you actually wrote the lease.

If you decide to fight it you better have some solid numbers and be able to clearly show how you calculated her share of utilities in relation to everyone else's. You'll also need to be able to provide evidence to show that the amount of rent and utilities specified on the lease and spreadsheet was the same for all those months when there was no lease. The fact that she owes you something for those months won't necessarily be interpreted to mean that she owes you the specific amounts you claim without evidence to back it up.

You better have been legally authorized to rent rooms in that house.

You better have properly declared that rental income in all your taxes.

If all three are not the case she has a few different ways she can create trouble for you that will cost you what she owes you or more. The bottom two really shouldn't have an effect on a small claims suit over rent owed, but they are ways she can get back at you.

You were sloppy in a type of situation where things tend to work in the renter's favor even when a landlord does everything right. If you are vulnerable in the ways that I think you are, you should write the 2 grand off as the price of your slopiness and figure out how to start covering yourself better in the future.

Last edited by eharri3; 09-13-2013 at 01:33 PM.
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Old 09-14-2013, 12:16 PM   #22
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Landlord/Tenant - Law Advice Needed


Another thing that hasn't been mentioned here is that even if you win in small claims, you have to collect the money. If she doesn't have money or assets, you're SOL. I'm guessing as a college student, her net worth is somewhere deep in the negatives.

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