unbelievable outcome

auntneteJune 9, 2009

I have to vent and maybe someone out there has some advice for us. When my DH took a job 2 years ago in Chicago, I followed him after a year from Georgia. We could not sell our house so we rented it. What a nightmare! We won a judgement against the former tenant. This man destroyed our home! He did not pay rent. He cut the wiring for the telephone out, cut the cord off the dryer, and flushed rags down the toilet to stop up the septic tank! That is just the beginning! As I have posted my DH is currently unemployed. We followed the law to the letter and garnished his checking account. Not only did we not get a penny he is now suing us! He is on disablity and is so not disabled. One problem we had was he was running a business from our home and our home insurance was going up because it was not used as a residence. The department of community development (business license dept) contacted us to file a judgement for unpaid taxes and operating a business without a license! We were in Chicago and had no idea. We took all these letters to court and he did not even have to provide a bank statment to prove his only income was disability! We lost that case and now he is suing US for wrongfully garnishing his 'disability'! To hire an attorney AGAIN is so out of our budget. Does anyone have any suggestions either for how to get our money in an instance like this and/or how to defend this? It is in magistrate court.

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OMG what a nightmare. Sorry to hear this.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 4:29PM
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If you cannot afford a lawyer, is there a law school near you or in the area the house is? Sometimes a professor or a new graduate will take on the case. Sounds like there were contacts between this person and someone in the court system. Be firm, refuse to discuss anything with the person or his/her lawyer. Talk to the attorney general in your state for full investigation. Disabled?? How and when and who certified him. Dr?? PA?? Medical?? Go back and start listing all the problems, get all in order and let him know you will be contacting your lawyer for further investigation. Are you in GA now? Can you appeal the case? Yes, this people will sue and sue again. Just refuse to talk to him, and when and if you are subpoenaed to court, tell the court you are not ready to discuss the case, have all documents (copies, not originals) of damages, list of phone calls, threats, witnesses . You do need legal advice and you can get it. Find a young hot shot newcomer and go for it.
Keep the originals of everything, and give only copies to anyone, including your own legal people. Went thru this once and the person lied and lied and lied, and boy would I handle it different now.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 4:43PM
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I read in one of the forums here some time ago that if you are a landlord sooner or later you can expect to be sued. You are clearly one of the unluckiest. The only thing I can think of is to hire a lawyer on terms that you can live with who will review the case and come up with a quick way to get you out from under. You might try to settle out of court, cut your losses that way.

Then, write a book about your nightmare. At least that way you might ventilate and maybe get come compensation.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 4:45PM
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You have had a horrible experience - agreed, but I don't think that you will find anyone to take your case without compensation. That compensation would have to come from you, because it isn't going to come from your tenant. I have know young attorneys to take cases on spec, but those were personal injury suits backed by insurance. They figure if they can win just 1 in 10 cases, they will do fine while building their practices.

It is illegal to garnishee disability payments, but I agree that your attorney should have demanded proof. You can't really say "No way does he have a disability" because conditions like schizophrenia and bi-polarism can be covered and clearly this person has some mental issues.

I think the advice to ignore a subpoena is really, really bad. That's a sure way to get a judgment against yourself and you probably have assets that can be attached, like the house in Georgia for instance.

I truly hope that things turn around for you, but bad advice and bad lawyering aren't going to do it for you.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 6:21PM
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I am also a very part-time landlord, and I live in dread of something like this happening. It's one reason I decided to sell the rental house we had and buy an apartment instead -- less to go wrong, more safeguards in place.

I did happen to think of this: Do you have landlord insurance or an umbrella policy on your property? That might be a source of support against a lawsuit.

I was also wondering how you went about garnishing the tenant's wages -- did you get any advice about that? Did you not know that he had disability income? Or did he not tell you that when he rented the place?

Good luck. Sorry about all your troubles.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 3:58PM
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It occured to me that what you might consider is spending just enough money to bring in a deep pocket third party defendant who can supply the attorneys. I believe it was illegal for the bank to permit you to garnishee disability payments. There was a recent case in Georgia about just that.

BTW - I too am a landlord and I have been putting off getting an umbrella policy to cover the rental properties. I think I will move that up on my list.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 7:22PM
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I contacted my regular lawyer and she referred me to another one that is younger and less expensive. We have an appointment on Monday. Yes I knew he was on disabilty when I rented to him and it is a mental issue. I have known him for 35 years so this is such a shock! When we won the judgement they mailed a letter to me telling me the options and garinshment was one of them. My attorney told me it was something I could handle myself because it was so straightforward. I must share this, when I emailed the documents to my attorney that he is suing us this professtional, staunt woman who I have never seen in any way but a dedicated professional sent this response to me......OHMYGOD ARE YOU KIDDING ME? But the bottom line is no matter if I win there is no way to collect anything. I am out everything. Being a landlord is such a nightmare, it is not worth it.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 10:46PM
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