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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Posts
    2

    Unhappy Tenant Illegal Eviction Suit and Landlord Countersuit

    My question involves an eviction in the state of: Pennsylvania

    I know this is long, but please bare with me. There is a lot of info and I want to make sure I cover everything before people ask for more info regarding this.

    My fiance was renting a room in the house of his friend's family (they made him stay in the garage). They had a verbal agreement and he was paying what they had discussed. They had no lease, and he did not get receipts of documentation from them. He would hand them the money every week, then be on his way.

    They left a note on his door in the beginning of April stating that they wanted him out by June 1. Before this, they had been harrassing him and starting arguments with him to make living their horrible. He was fine with it and we began to look for a new place for him to live.

    At the end of April, one of his "landlords" left another note on his door stating that he owed over $2000 in back rent... he had been paying what they asked him to pay, so we have no idea where she came up with this figure. She also wrote in the note that she wanted several hundred dollars to her by the next morning. He had already paid for that week, and did not have the money she asked for, nor did he have any reason to pay it. She called him on the phone while we were out and began to argue with him, screaming at him to pay her. He told her to evict him and hung up.

    I dropped him off at home at 1AM, and they told him he couldn't stay there when he walked through the door. He said yes he was and that he was going to bed. Apparently they had called the police earlier and the police said that they would arrest my fiance if he showed up to the house. They locked him in his room and called the police again. The police showed up and asked him questions and the landlords questions, but finally told him he had to leave.

    In the police report, the officer said that my fiance's belongings (and bed) were in the garage and he appeared to be living there. He even wrote that he told the landlords to go through the legal eviction process, but they refused. The landlords told the police that all of my fiance's things would be on the front lawn in the morning (and they were).

    We went to the courts a few weeks later to file a small claims court against their illegal eviction. We are only asking for exactly what we had to pay out because of them evicting him the way they did (hotel costs, storage unit, U Haul, etc.). They have come back and are countersuing my fiance for what they call back rent (the over $2000 she left the note about).

    I have all of our receipts from what we paid and where from the illegal eviction. They, however, do not have receipts for rent that was paid or not paid. Who has a stronger case? I just do not know what kind of judge would accept something without documentation. No one has proof of rent paid or owed. Do they have a valid argument?

    Thank you.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Cinnaminson, New Jersey, United States
    Posts
    205

    Default Re: Tenant Illegal Eviction Suit and Landlord Countersuit

    Fortunately, because you have proof of payment you have the upper hand... if these payments look 'regular' in timing and amount, it will be considered rent by the courts and yes, even though it was a verbal lease, it would be considered a month to month arrangement. because of this, the landlords would have to go through the formal eviction process and respect your fiance's tenant's rights. you can find them at HUD

    Your fiance has a good case, but at a certain point you just have to weight out whether it's worth his time or not to sue... it sounds like everyone would just be better off with him in another home.

    The landlords are going to have a hard time collecting what they are calling back rent, particularly if they are going to go by what was supposedly said.

    They also could owe for throwing his things out and locking him out of the garage - collecting from them after the judgment is a whole different story.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Behind a Desk
    Posts
    98,846

    Default Re: Tenant Illegal Eviction Suit and Landlord Countersuit

    With no records on either side of rent paid, it becomes a matter of credibility. You didn't tell us how much rent was, so we have no way of knowing how quickly your fiancÚ would (in theory) run up a $2000 arrearage, but it works in your favor that the landlord has no records, and made no timely demand for rent supposedly owed. He'll have to see what the judge decides.

    If he can prove payment - such as through bank statements showing weekly withdrawal of his rent amounts - that would help. He can also ask that the landlord identify the specific rental period(s) for which he supposedly didn't pay, to see if they stammer. (In some small claims courts the judge asks the questions, so if the judge doesn't ask that he may have to ask the judge to ask the landlord....) If they do name specific weeks, he can ask about their records, or how they would manage to remember that with no records, and also why they made no contemporaneous demand for rent. All in all, he'll have to see what happens in court.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: Tenant Illegal Eviction Suit and Landlord Countersuit

    I'm just worried that they will try to come up with fake documentation before the court date... How credible would it be if my fiance never saw or signed anything? Is it acceptable to just write down that kind of information on a piece of paper?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Posts
    1

    Default Tenant Illegal Eviction Suit and Landlord Countersuit

    In my case I have already vacated the premises and now we are just discussing the details. I found my copy of your pdf and I noticed a thing in there about a "waiver" if he has never billed me for late charges or even asked me for them would that include his court costs?


    BTW the eviction was dismissed since I surrendered the keys back to the landlord.
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