My three children and I have just been served eviction papers due to back rent being due. We were verbally asked to vacate as soon as possible. We were one and a half months behind on rent, but always paying something when we could. A lot of Americans can say the same right now due to this pandemic crisis. Two of my kids are adults—18 and 21—and they never received their pandemic unemployment benefits. One of them didn’t even get a stimulus check. I had received my PUA benefits, and I paid as much as I could as often as possible to our landlord. Meanwhile we are struggling to afford everyday household necessities, trying to keep our phones on, struggling to keep my newly-opened online business running, and to have food when our SNAP benefits are delayed or run out.
I explained to our landlord that I was recently diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and am unable to work outside of the home. I also explained that because of my longtime severe depression, anxiety and panic disorder (in addition to my diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis), my girls were applying for every place hiring in our area with, but with no success. I provided supporting documentation and screenshots of my bank account statements, etc., to show the landlord that we weren’t trying to be irresponsible tenants. It was just beyond our control. On November 19, 2020, we presented him with signed copies of the CDC eviction order, but were quickly told that because we never renewed a yearly lease and were now renting on a month to month basis, that we were exempt from this order and to please find someone to stay with. We had no one to stay with.
My girls just moved three hours away, and I am selling my car to buy a small, cheap RV that needs interior work because that is the only option for me and my 8-year-old son. My family was forced to become separated because our landlord’s love for money clearly exceeds his love for humanity.
Now let me backtrack to a year and a half earlier, to the time when we moved into this place. Upon signing the lease and being handed the keys, we walked into a roach-invested house. We hadn’t seen any when we had viewed the property, but within an hour of being in our new home we saw and killed 10 roaches at minimum—in a freshly remodeled house. I immediately contacted our landlord and told him about the issue, and that it was quite evident that this was not a new issue but clearly a previous and ongoing infestation that needed to be fixed prior to us moving our belongings into the house. He flat out refused to address the issue and blamed it on the previous tenant because she “cooked with a lot of grease.” How that is relevant to a severe roach infestation in a home that had been remodeled and vacant for several months is beyond me, but I still offered to buy and do everything needed to ensure the extermination of the roaches as long as that money was taken off our next month’s rent. The landlord reluctantly agreed.
We spent a week in our car after signing the lease because that’s how long it took just to get the infestation to a bare minimum, and another month to completely rid the property of them. Once we felt comfortable enough to move our belongings in, we immediately noticed a lot of things that were not done correctly when remodeling the home. I know this because I did contract work for two years. One issue was that the faucet and handle in the shower/bathtub was broken. Again, I contacted the landlord as we were unable to take showers or baths. He said he’d send his “maintenance man” over to fix it. This man ended up being an uncertified cousin who is known in our neighborhood as an active drug user, and he was clearly under the influence upon his initial arrival and every time thereafter. He came to fix the shower/tub three times, but never fixed it and then quit coming back. I contacted the landlord again, and he told me that since I had experience in contract work, that I could buy the parts, install them and fix the issue, and to present him with the receipts and he would deduct the cost from our rent. I agreed with the additional agreement that he also pay me $10 an hour in labor to which he again, reluctantly agreed.
Whenever something needed fixing with this property/our home, the landlord either took days or weeks to respond, or just didn’t respond at all. However, as soon as rent was a day late, he was very prompt in contacting us for his money.
I will be fighting the eviction with the help of our local legal aid agency. I will also be notifying the township office that his property is absolutely not up to code and severely energy inefficient. There are cracks and holes in the walls and windows, and only 3 out of the 10 windows even lock/function as they should. These are only a few examples of the many things wrong with the property. This landlord should not be allowed to rent to anyone ever again. He is a slumlord and has nobody’s best interest at heart, other than his own.