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This is the letter with which I called my former landlord's lawyer's bluff. While there are some limitations on the details I can provide, this was the letter that won the case.

The letter was written in response to a rather insulting settlement offer, whereby I was to pay over one thousand dollars in order to make the case go away. The fact that the offer didn't take my ten thousand dollars in counterclaims seriously, and made all kinds of assumptions, indicated a degree of hubris that just cried out to be shattered.

I do try to meet others' needs whenever possible.


Dear Ms. NameOmitted:

Thank you for your offer. It was quite revealing.

Specifically, the following things become clear from a reading of your e-mail:

1. If you seriously intend to go forward on claims for "lock-change fees" and "floor damage", this shows one of three things about your case:

a. You took your client's self-serving statements at face value and failed to conduct an independent investigation to reach your own conclusions about the merits of these claims,

b. You visited the scene of the alleged damage and therefore had ample opportunity to see that these claims, for reasons to which I will return shortly, are wholly lacking in merit, in which case your conduct is at best ethically questionable and at worst sanctionable,

c. Your client is attempting to cover his tracks by simply painting over the evidence, as he has done with the extensive corrosion on the safety rails in the rear of Building 3, in which I resided.

Even a cursory examination of the site would reveal a water trail leading directly from your client's defective air conditioning unit to the floor. I certainly hope that you do not intend to sue me for damages caused by your client's own failure to maintain the premises in a safe and habitable condition, and specifically to maintain air conditioners provided by him. Keep in mind that it was his employees who first drew my attention to the water leakage issue, and did basically nothing of substance about it.

Similarly, if your client is alleging — and this is strongly suggested by your discovery requests — that I at some point changed the locks to prevent your client's employees unlawfully entering the premises, this is patently false. On the date on which I moved out, the door locks were just as I found them when I moved in in 2004. If you have a witness testify otherwise, you will be suborning perjury.

2. Your offer assumes that the court will (a) decline to rule for me on any of my counterclaims and (b) agree that the fair rental value of the premises is the $595 (and subsequently $610) charged by your client. This is doubtful for two reasons:

a. There is ample evidence that the apartment, and the complex as a whole, were shoddily maintained and had inadequate safety and sanitation. Moreover, if your client intends to maintain that he believed that the Eisenhower-era air conditioning units he provides were in good working condition, either he failed to have them checked out prior to letting, as their visibly deteriorated condition and advanced age would warrant, or he is a fool and his maintenance staff are incompetent. Thus, not only is it at best doubtful that the apartment and the complex were in habitable condition at the relevant times; the apartment leased to me did not even have the air conditioning I paid for in good faith.

b. A comparable price to the one charged by your client, in this city, is charged for units in much better condition, and with substantially better amenities and maintenance, than those offered by your client.

3. Your client's exposure is not limited to these Municipal Court proceedings. With ample assistance from you, he has exposed himself to federal liability under 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 (see, e.g., Lugar v. Edmondson Oil Co., Inc., 457 U.S. 922, 102 S.Ct. 2744, 73 L.Ed.2d 482 (1982)). And that is assuming that his other tenants, all of whom have at least a few causes of action under R.C. Chapter 5321, don't get the idea of suing him as well. Moreover, your client is exposed to potentially substantial losses should the court order him not to let any unoccupied units until the necessary repairs are completed.

4. In a phone conversation initiated by your client in the afternoon of 20 April 2004, he admitted to me that his employees had recently attempted to gain entry to my apartment without prior notice or consent. While he claimed that this was due to an "urgent issue", this is clearly belied by the fact that no one had called me until then, and that his employees failed to keep the appointment they had made with me for 24 April 2006 at 1:00 p.m. to complete the allegedly necessary repairs.

5. Your client will not have the sympathy of the court. It will quickly become clear that your client is in essence a slumlord who has introduced projects-style property management tactics to Mt. Lookout. His arrogance and sense of entitlement will not play well on the stand.

In light of the foregoing, a more reasonable number would be as follows. Taking as a jumping-off point your $1220.00 figure, let us further assume (conservatively) that the value of the various things (adequate maintenance, functioning air conditioners) your client was obligated to provide, but did not is between $100 and $200 a month. Splitting the difference, we arrive at $150 a month. This figure would then be multiplied by the 16 months in which rent was indisputably paid to arrive at a product of $2400.00. We would then subtract the total difference between the fair value of the apartment thus obtained from the figure you propose, arriving at $1,180.00 owed to me. Please note that these calculations do not include any figure for damages arising out of repeated unlawful entry. I would be willing to cut this number in half and settle all claims currently filed and contemplated for the sum of $590.00 (one half of $1,180.00) payable to me upon signing.

Your "offer" would have been perfectly acceptable when I was still in possession of the apartment. That time is past.

Sincerely,

eliserh

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