New Management Is Ruining Our Lives

jinamuroJune 5, 2013

A couple months ago, my apartment complex got a new management company. Things have been slowly going down hill ever since then. It's now getting to the point where I feel it's inevitable my family and I are going to have to leave when we really don't want to.

It all started with a plumbing problem that happened to be under my unit. The pipes are very old and had started to crumble away. First it was, "We'll have to dig a hole in your pantry to check out the pipes.", which made our pantry unusable. Then it was, "You need to move your fridge. We need to dig a bigger hole to get a better view of the pipes.", which made our whole kitchen unusable. Then it was, "We have to 'relocate' you. All of the pipes under this unit are bad and we have to dig a huge trench through your living room." This forced me and my two disabled parents who are on SSI to have to move from our 2 bedroom into a much smaller one bedroom.

It's been hard on us physically, and living in this cramped apartment is no fun, but we knew things were going to be alright because we believed we'd be able to move back into our old unit once they got all the problems fixed, but things aren't so certain nowadays.

The new manager is telling us she can't guarantee we'll get it back because my step dad has a felony on his record. A one time drug selling charge that happened 20+ years ago, that he unfortunately can't get expunged. Here's the thing though. He's been living in this complex for at least 15 years. He has paid his bills on time every month and has never given any neighbors a reason to complain.

If the new management does decide we can't live here anymore because of his record, how is it that they can do that? Also, we had just signed a lease for our old unit before all of this happened. What are my families rights regarding that?

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I think you need a lawyer. Many lawyers will give you a free or low-cost initial consulation or try Legal Aid. When my brother was in law school, the third-year students also provided free legal advice at local clinics.

What can and can't be done is going to vary by state, because every state has different laws about renting and tenants and landlords. It's possible the law has changed since your grandparents rented their apartment. Or the complex's rules have changed.

This is the only Federal law I could find: "Federal law says that a person who is subject to lifetime sex offender registration or who has been convicted of producing methamphetamine on public housing grounds may not ever be admitted to public housing or receive Section 8 again. If you have one of these convictions but are already living in public housing, you have a right to stay because Federal law only applies to people who want to live in public housing or receive Section 8, not those who already do. Call a lawyer if eviction proceedings are brought against you." If you don't live in public housing, then the law doesn't apply.

The repair work and being moved, while annoying, aren't illegal. However, you should only be paying rent for a one-bedroom apartment while your own unit is unhabitable.

Try googling "[yourstate] landlord tenant law". Check to see if your state has a program where your grandfather can apply to have his felony conviction reduced to a misdemeanor. Not exactly the same as getting it expunged, but it would help. Also check to see if there is a "re-entry group" in your city/area. These are organizations that help people adjust to life after prison. They may be able to point you and your family toward some resources that can help you.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 7:42AM
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camlam gave you excellent advice. So many landlords get away with so much because we arent sure of our rights and then we are afraid to make trouble because of their retribution. Good Luck

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 4:31PM
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Thank you for the replies. I appreciate it.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 1:17PM
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"It all started with a plumbing problem that happened to be under my unit. The pipes are very old and had started to crumble away."

Is it possible to find another place to live instead of waiting for more problems to unfold/crumble? The bldg sounds very old. If management is being this unreasonable out of the gate, they might have used this excuse to get you out of your more desirable 2 bd unit to give to someone else. Why else would they say you can't move back in after its fixed? Find out.

You say your folks are disabled. It might not cost much to have a lawyer (ACLU?) send a sternly worded letter regarding the problems they could have if they are harassing disabled folks and the premises aren't ALL handicapped accessible.

Tell the management you need your two bedroom apt back ASAP or you will be forced to go to court to have them explain to the judge why they are putting disabled persons in a much smaller unit that is not only a violation of their civil rights but probably isn't up to code for them either.

It sounds fishy that management company is still willing to take your payments even though they are whining about not letting you stay because of the old conviction. Bet a judge wouldn't care for that either. I wouldn't be too worried about being able to find another place to live. Most management co's. won't deny renting a unit to someone with a really old (non violent) offense. Especially if they are older and disabled?

I'd still be looking for another place anyway just to get your folks into a newer, safer building. Crumbling pipes aren't going to go away until they fix the pipes in every unit. That means no water for hours on end at a time. Do you want to live like this? I wouldn't.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 8:34AM
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