“All my roommate and I wanted was the $5,500 dollars each we were entitled to”
When Dennis first moved into his home in Bayview, there was a 2 foot by 6 inch hole in the wall at the front of the house. For 19 years, he kept the hole covered and always paid his rent on time.
After a big rain this last November, the rot around the hole grew larger and the entire front wall of the home began to smell. The conditions became so bad that Dennis had to inform his landlord.
However, Denny’s landlord wouldn’t return his phone calls. It was only until Dennis threatened the landlord with calling the building inspector that he finally received a call back. The landlord was upset with the ultimatum. Dennis was told him and his roommate were being evicted and were offered very little for their displacement.
“All my roommate and I wanted was the $5,500 dollars each we were entitled to,” Dennis says, “The landlord wanted to pay $2,000 dollars for both of us.”
Dennis already had a new place to move into and wanted to avoid months of legal back-and-forth, which would’ve possibly awarded him more money. Dennis didn’t want more money; he just wanted what he was entitled to. He dropped in one day at our offices for advice, and shortly after began working with Isaac Jacobson, a Open Door Legal volunteer attorney.
Facing a tenant with legal representation and an official order of repair after the building inspector became involved, the landlord eventually offered Dennis and his roommate the $5,500 each they wanted.
“But,” according to Dennis, “they wanted to give two checks, and to have their attorney hold them. I told Isaac, ‘no way, I will never see that second check. I’ll never see it. I’ll be in small claims forever.’ I’ll only sign the agreement if [Isaac] holds the checks.”
“I have rights. People have rights. People need to know they have rights. With a place like this, you have people who can defend your rights. This is what this neighborhood needs.”
Isaac was able to negotiate new terms with the opposing attorney, which stated Open Door Legal would hold the two checks and one check would be issued after move out and the second check 72 hours later.
After moving out, Dennis’s suspicions proved warranted. The landlord’s attorney called Isaac and claimed that Dennis wasn’t living on the property. “They didn’t want me to give him the second check,” says Isaac.
“But Isaac just handed over the check to me because there was a contract and he’s my lawyer,” Dennis told us. “I have rights. People have rights. People need to know they have rights. With a place like this, you have people who can defend your rights. This is what this neighborhood needs.”
“That’s why I just donated $200 dollars,” Dennis said with tears in his eyes. “I don’t have money. That’s a lot of money for me. Thank you guys so much. Thanks a lot.”