Why No Lawyer Will Take Javin’s Case Against Fox Chase Apartments

Reader (and lawyer) Sam Glover says:

    “It sounds to me like Javin accepted their offer to terminate his lease. Sure, they pressured him to do it, but as he said, he “moved out rather than deal with it any longer.” What they really did was take advantage of your ignorance of the law.

    The reason why no lawyer will take your case isn’t that the company owns the state (even if that highly dubious statement is true), it is that (1) you have no claim, and (2) you have no–or only minimal–damages.”

Seems sensible, now that you think about it. Really, what could he legally protest? His own decision?

In any event, Javin’s anti-ARMC protest will live on until they unplug the internet.

Previously: Apartment Complex Evicts With Fake Excuses So It Can Raise Rent 40%

Comments

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  1. aka Cat says:

    I don’t think it’s precisely a case that he accepted their offer to terminate. Termination or non-renewal of the lease is just as final as eviction, as far as him having no say in it.

    The problem is that legally there’s no expectation that the lease will be renewed, so he has no recourse.

  2. latemodel says:

    Dont most leases have a clause that says if a party is not going to renew there must be a 15/20/30? day written notice? Inspections and calling of the fire department harrasment and intimidation and is a viable tort.

  3. Martin says:

    I’m also a lawyer, and I handle consumer protection cases primarily. It sounds like Javin has a valid claim for breach of the implied covenant of quiet enjoyment. His damages would be the difference between the agreed lease price (in this case $950.00) and the fair market price (probably $1,350) for the remainder is his lease term.

    The fact that he terminated his lease after the repeated harassment by the landlord doesn’t change this.

    It is not surprising that he is having difficulty finding a lawyer to take the case. Most lawyers are not aware of the various consumer protection laws that exist in the U.S., and in some states, the consumer protection laws are not sufficient.

    In this case, the cost of hiring a lawyer to bring such a case would be excessive considering the amount in controversy. Javin should consider bringing an action in small claims court, where lawyers are usually neither required nor allowed.

    If Sam really wants to hire a lawyer to handle the case, he should look for a lawyer at the National Association of Consumer Advocates web-site (www.naca.net). NACA lawyers specialize in consumer protection cases.

    Nolo Press (www.nolo.com) publishes several self-help books on landlord-tenant rights and on small claims court.

  4. Shouldn’t he have some sort of recourse if they basically made it impossible for him to continue living there? How was he supposed to continue living there if they keep bringing law enforcement to his front door? If he had stayed, ARMC might have been able to get the police to believe one of their accusations. Is it reasonable to expect someone to live someplace knowing they could be falsely arrested at any moment?

  5. Sam Glover says:

    Martin and I should have both given a disclaimer that landlord-tenant law is highly specific to a state or city. Although I practice primarily landlord-tenant law in Minnesota, that knowledge doesn’t necessarily stretch to Maryland.

    However, contract law is contract law. ARMC basically extended an offer to terminate the lease (or not to renew it), and Javin accepted. Martin’s reference to the covenant of quiet enjoyment depends heavily on how Maryland interprets that obligation.

    On the issue of consumer protection laws and lawyers’ general ignorance, however, I completely agree with Martin. I have taken clients who were abused by debt collectors and told by ten attorneys “just pay the debt” before they called me. NACA is a great resource, as may be your local phone book. Look under “consumer attorneys/lawyers.”

    Finally, although I don’t think Javin has much of a legal claim, if any, I think ARMC’s behavior here was reprehensible. Lying and conniving to terminate a contract is reminiscent of Saturday-morning cartoons, not valid business practices.

  6. timmus says:

    If he had stayed, ARMC might have been able to get the police to believe one of their accusations.
    Absolutely… I think that’s a valid point. Those management wenches have been playing hardball, so it’s not a stretch to imagine them placing contraband in the apartment while doing a “security inspection”.

  7. Javin says:

    “”It sounds to me like Javin accepted their offer to terminate his lease.”

    Let me clarify this since Sam has said it repeatedly, and it’s simply not true. I have read over what I’ve written, and haven’t quite figured out where I implied that I ever had a choice to leave. Here’s the order of events:

    1.) They told me that I was evicted (on the phone) and gave me a listing of reasons.
    2.) I got home, saw the list was bullshit, took pictures, and decided to appeal.
    3.) Fire engines/sheriff/ambulance arrives.
    4.) Still not having received an offical eviction notice, I put up the site.
    5.) Landlords come through for “re-inspection” (still no paper stating infractions)
    6.) I call main ARMC headquarters to complain about FoxChase harassment/treatment, and give them web address to let them know what was happening.
    7.) ARMC Lawyers contact me, threatening to sue for libel.
    8.) ARMC Lawyers send another contact telling me I am not to contact any staff of ARMC.
    9.) ARMC Lawyers inform me that I am NOT evicted, but instead when my lease comes due for renewal at the end of the month (or following month, don’t remember) they would not renew my lease.

    At no point did I have the OPTION of staying.

    Martin’s the only person that’s EVER told me that I even (potentially) had a legal case against them.

    -Javin

  8. I’m not a lawyer, but it seems to me the statement of..

    “9.) ARMC Lawyers inform me that I am NOT evicted, but instead when my lease comes due for renewal at the end of the month (or following month, don’t remember) they would not renew my lease.”

    tells me that they simply didn’t offer a new lease to you.

    Surely you can’t expect a company to offer you a lifetime of renewals for the month to month lease.. If you want longer, then sign a year lease.

  9. RumorsDaily says:

    Yeah, I think #9 means you’re screwed. They didn’t offer you a new lease, you had no right to stay. You might have some local housing law about when tenants are required to be offered a new lease or something, but otherwise it sounds like you’re out of luck. Too bad, they seem like lousy people.

  10. Javin says:

    Philip M. Vector:

    It wasn’t a month to month lease. It was yearly. This just happened to be time for the yearly renewal.

  11. AaronM says:

    Seems like this would be a great thing to file a complaint at the Better Business Bureau (BBB.org).

  12. Ass_Cobra says:

    The lease is a two way street. They don’t have to offer you a renewal when your lease is up. It’s unfortunate that they harassed you while you were a tenant, but the fact that they chose not to renew your lease ends their obligation to you.

    There could be some very specific tenant protection laws that exist in maryland which they were trying to circumvent by harassing you. I have no idea but that would be the only basis for your claim. I would advise anyone that faces any kind of harassment from their landlord find a friend to draft and send a letter requesting that the landlord further cease from disturbing his client’s quiet enjoyment of the premises. It works wonders. I got nastygrams about my dog’s barking for the first two weeks in my new apartment. It all stopped after a lawyer I send a lot of work to drafted and sent ye olde quiet enjoyment letter. Landlords, like anyone else will pick on the one they think is least willing or able to defend themself.

  13. Sam Glover says:

    Whether Javin accepted an offer to terminate or was a simple “victim” of ARMC’s decision not to renew his lease, the fact remains that he has no real claim. No tenant has a right to a lease renewal.

    ARMC’s behavior is a bit confusing, since it doesn’t seem they needed a reason, but none of their reasons appear to be reasons protected under discrimination laws, so I think the point is moot.

    I sympathize with his situation, but I stand by my assessment.

  14. Javin says:

    Honestly, I believe the harassment was just sheer ignorance on the part of these two chicks. I think they were trying to evict me because they wanted to make the extra money with a new tenant. I think they were just simply morons. I believe it wasn’t until their lawyers got involved that they were even aware that they could simply not renew my lease, and this most likely came as a suggestion from their lawyers after the harassment had already happened.

  15. Martin says:

    I must respectfully disagree with Sam.

    The Landlord’s behavior violates the implied covenant of quiet enjoyment in any state that follows that rule (which is probably every state except Louisiana – which probably has it, but calls it something that sounds french).

    I do agree, however, that the landlord has no obligation to renew your lease. Once the lease is up, either party can refuse to renew.

    However, many states and the federal government do have housing discrimination laws. If you can prove that their decision not to renew your lease (price is up to them, however) was for a prohibited reason, usually based upon your gender, race, religion, and sometimes based upon your exercise of tenant rights under the law, you may have a claim.