(names changed to protect confidentiality)
Maria was an elderly tenant who was provided with the names of shelters by her landlord, since eviction was imminent and Maria lacked resources to pay the rent, having recently lost her job. Maria had never needed to reside in a shelter due to her work history. She came to our office in distress and in need of guidance. Working with ECLAA and the City of Newark, Maria was able to show that if the arrears to her apartment were paid, she could continue the rental payments since she had just gotten a new job. ECLAA then partnered with the Urban League to help Maria. ECLAA prepared an Affidavit on Maria’s behalf, evidencing her prospective income as well as the Urban’s League’s promissory letter to pay all arrears. The court dismissed the eviction action upon the Urban League's payment of the arrears. Maria was able to keep her apartment.
Nia was a long-term recipient of Section 8 program rent support and was being evicted based on actions of her 32-year-old son James. Nia’s Section 8 voucher meant that HUD funds covering part of her rent were paid directly to Nia’s landlord by a local public housing agency. We informed Nia that a negative outcome in the eviction case would lead to the loss of her Section 8 voucher. ECLAA’s attorney prepared an Affidavit for Nia explaining the circumstance of her son’s actions. The Affidavit was provided to the landlord’s attorney prior to Nia’s court hearing. In addition, Nia wished to move due to outstanding habitability (Marini) hearing issues that made it impossible for her to continue residing in the unsafe apartment. ECLAA negotiated an agreement with the landlord's attorney, wherein Nia would be out of the apartment by a date certain and that no monies would be owed. The agreement was also presented to Nia's Section 8 caseworker to ensure that her Section 8 voucher would be preserved for a new safer apartment. The agreement was successfully implemented by the court and Nia’s Section 8 voucher was safe. ECLAA knows that cases involving potential loss of a voucher should always be the subject of attempted settlement agreements, because trial outcomes are uncertain and weigh favorably towards the landlord.
Hanna and Section 8 had both stopped payments to the landlord because the apartment failed inspection. Hanna went to court with her portion of the monthly rent to deposit in escrow, but Section 8 did not pay their portion into the court’s escrow account pending landlord repairs to the apartment that would pass inspection. An eviction was entered by the landlord, and Hanna came to our office with the warrant of removal. An ECLAA attorney prepared an Affidavit, outlining the landlord’s actions in failing to remediate unsafe living conditions which had led to the landlord losing Section 8 payments. The court vacated the eviction and ordered the landlord to make repairs. Accordingly, Hanna’s Section 8 voucher was safeguarded and the repairs were made.
Za’Niyah is a single mom of a six month old boy. She was being evicted for nonpayment of rent. On the original court date, Za'Niyah deposited $1,400 with the court, with a return date to confirm that her deposit was made. After she complied with the court order, Za'Niyah came to our office. A review of the file revealed she was living in a basement apartment in subhuman conditions. Za’Niyah's cellphone video revealed sewage backup into her shower and flooding to her ankles when it rained. We advised Za’Niyah to get a letter from the city noting the apartment’s illegality. She returned with the letter, and we prepared an Affidavit outlining the illegality, a request for relocation expenses from the landlord, and a demand that the $1,400 deposit be returned immediately. Za'Niyah won on all issues. This case was notable for the pressing circumstances surrounding the conditions as well as her right to relocation expenses. A six month old child’s exposure to these conditions was unacceptable. Za'Niyah was very grateful.
Joseph and Sondra, a husband and wife were served with a Summons and Complaint based upon failure to pay their rent in March and April. On May 1, they signed a Stipulation of Settlement wherein they agreed to the entry of a judgment of possession and further agreed to the issuance of a warrant of removal in the event that the terms of the stipulation were breached. The stipulation of settlement provided that the family would vacate the premises by August 1, that they would pay the January rent by May 9, and would continue to pay their rent until they vacated the premises on August 1. The family failed to pay their rent for three months and did not vacate the premises on August 1. A warrant of removal was issued and they were scheduled to be locked out of the premises on August 18. On August 15, Sondra came to our office seeking legal advice. We drafted an application for an Order to Show Cause seeking a hardship stay and requested that their security deposit be applied toward the back rent. The family consists of the husband, wife, their adult daughter who has cognitive impairment, and an adult male whom they care for because he has cerebral palsy and is unable to care for himself. All four members of this family are disabled and receive Social Security benefits. Their application for an Order to Show Cause was granted and a hearing was scheduled for August 25. Our office agreed to represent them at the upcoming hearing. The case presented a problem because the statute requires that all back rent be paid prior to the issuance of a hardship stay. We had to convince the court to provide the family with additional time to pay their back rent because they did not have the funds available on the date of the hearing and also to permit them to use their security deposit to pay a portion the back rent because the landlords had violated the Rent Security Deposit Act. On August 25, we appeared in court and argued the case on their behalf. The Court ruled in our favor and granted all of the relief we had requested. The family was permitted to use their security deposit toward their back rent, they were given a four-day extension to pay the remaining balance due on their back rent, and they were granted a two-month hardship stay which allowed them to remain in the premises until October 31, provided that they paid their rent on time for the next two months. The family was very grateful for the successful outcome in this matter.
Carl came to our office seeking legal advice regarding his upcoming Order to Show Cause hearing which was scheduled for September 14. In November of the prior year, a company hired our client as the building superintendent for a building located in Newark. As part of his employment, our client was allowed to live rent free in an apartment at that location. In June, our client received a letter postmarked June 27 from the company advising him that he will be terminated from his job as building superintendent as of June 23. However, although it was mailed on June 27, inexplicably the letter was dated January 26. The letter stated that he had three days to vacate his apartment or he would be required to start paying $700.00 as rent beginning on July 1. Thereafter, our client was verbally advised by both property managers to continue to perform his duties as the building superintendent. The property managers never asked Carl for any rent and they allowed Carl to continue to reside in apartment C in exchange for his work as the building superintendent. Subsequently, counsel for the landlord filed a complaint to evict him wherein the landlord sought $5,708.00 in back rent and late charges from January through July, which included court costs of $108.00 plus attorney fees in the amount of $450.00. The matter was scheduled for court on August 4. The two property managers both verbally advised our client that he did not need to worry about the eviction case and that he didn’t have to go to court on August 4. They instructed our client to “just keep cleaning the building”. Based upon their representations, our client did not appear in court on August 4. Unbeknownst to him, on August 4, the landlord was granted judgment of possession based upon a default because of our client’s failure to appear in court. Our client continued to perform his duties as the building superintendent until September 4, when a Warrant of Removal was posted at the premises. In response, on September 7, our client filed an application for an Order to Show Cause which was granted. The return date was scheduled for September 14. We drafted a document which set forth the facts of this case and the arguments our client would be relying upon and instructed him to read this document into the record on September 14, during the hearing. Our client appeared in court and argued his case. At the conclusion of the hearing, he returned to our office and informed our staff that the judge was persuaded and ruled in his favor. He expressed his gratitude for our assistance.