I hate injustice. I had it when the good guy gets hurt and the bad guy gets away with murder. Recent events of the last eight months had me on the verge of tears, tested the limits of my patience, brought out more hate for the welfare system, and even sky-rocketed my blood pressure so high that I may probably have to go on medication to control it.
I got involved in my parents’ landlord nightmare on the evening of Thanksgiving. After stuffing our stomachs to our hearts’ content with oven-roasted brined turkey, candied pecan yams, and bacon-wrapped asparagus, my parents told the family that they had tenants that have refused to pay rent.
Being novices at dealing with bad tenants, the family suggested that they look for new tenants and to put an ad on Craigslist. My parents got responses right away and made arrangements to show the apartment to new prospective tenants. When people came to look at the apartment, the illegal tenants had the chutzpah to call the police! They were occupying my parents’ apartment illegally (since their names were not on the lease) without paying rent and with absolutely no intentions of paying, and they had the gall to call the police. If it hadn’t been for the fact that the situation was downright infuriating, I would have held my stomach and laughed so hard, my cheeks would have been burning for weeks.
The police came and said that my parents were in the wrong since the illegal tenants were still living there and did not give them permission to show the apartment. Could you believe that?!?! As illegal tenants, they had the same rights as legal tenants.
The problem began when the legal tenant, “Rachel” allowed her younger sister, “Kelly” and Kelly’s young son to move in with her. A short time thereafter, Kelly’s boyfriend, sperm donor to her son, moved in as well. At no time did Rachel discuss this arrangement with my parents. Rachel had continued to pay her rent promptly so my parents didn’t think these extra people moving in was an issue. Until the day the two sisters had a fight, and then Rachel left the apartment in a huff. Rachel’s name was on the lease. Kim and her boyfriend were not. They wouldn’t leave and they wouldn’t pay rent. At one time, both of them had been working for UPS, but now the both of them were living off of welfare payments.
Meanwhile, my parents’ bills and fees related to the apartment were mounting. These were callous people who didn’t mind living off of someone else’s dime. In fact, Kelly made great use of the free daycare service that are provided to welfare recipients. She promptly dropped off her toddler every day so that she could come home and watch the TV in peace. How ingenious.
I hated my parents being ripped off this way. I did some research and discovered that regulations governing landlord/tenant issues were very tricky in New York. We hired a lawyer because any mistakes we made with filing papers or not meeting deadlines would mean starting the whole legal process from the beginning.
The lawyer filed papers to have the illegal tenants evicted. Since the tenants refused to leave, we had a court date of March 15. We waited for them to appear. I had never met them, but as soon as I saw them, I knew they were the ones causing my parents pain and suffering. The lawyer said that the best and fastest way to make them leave was to come to some kind of agreement with the illegal tenants.
The lawyer who approached the illegal tenants and asked them when they could leave. They said they had offered money to my parents, but they had refused. The lawyer told them that my parents didn’t want their money and that they didn’t want to rent out to them. They said they could move out by June. The lawyer said that that was unreasonable and asked them to give a date that would be more reasonable. Finally they said they could move out by the end of April. That would give them more than 3 months to move out. They only agreed to the April date because the lawyer said that they could ask for an extension.
We left the court thinking that soon the illegal tenants would be out of the apartment and out of our lives.
When it got close to the date when the illegal tenants were to leave, I got a call from the lawyer telling me they had filed for an extension. I had anticipated this, but for my parents it was another blow.
When we were at court, the lawyer didn’t think that they would get another extension. And to our complete and utter disbelief, they were given another extension because they said they haven’t found a place. We were numb, and felt cheated by a system that only seemed concerned about the interests of people who knew how to use the system. This must have been the time when I started having problems with my blood pressure. Not being able to do anything, made my blood boil and I jokingly wondered what Tony Soprano would do in this situation.
June 18, I found out that the illegal tenants filed a “Show of Cause.” This is a fancy term for asking for an extension. Eviction date was approaching, so the low lives did it again. July 26th, we all appeared in court. They said they needed until July 12th because the apartment they were to move into was not ready yet. They promised to pay my parents $200 to my parents for the privilege of staying till July 12th.
My parents never saw the $200. This didn’t surprise me since the illegal tenants only said things to get things their way. Their word never meant anything.
By mid-July, the illegal tenants finally moved out. They moved out the night before the marshal was to come. My parents had previously asked them for the keys so to avoid the cost of the marshal having to come. But they couldn’t even do that. That would have made us think that they at least had a heart…. And we later found out that they had changed one of the locks without even telling my parents. I cringe thinking what kind of trouble they would bring to their new landlord.
I know not all people on welfare exhibit the kind of attitude that they have everything coming to them and owe nothing to anybody, but I truly believe that there is a unhealthy mentality that is born when something is given without any requirements. These people were not grateful for welfare and their indifference to the pain they invoked upon my parents makes me believe that a system that gives out welfare so readily needs to be rethought and restructured.
Oh and another thing that horrified me was how as law-abiding tax paying citizens, my parents had to pay for their lawyer, but any advice that the illegal tenants received was completely gratis. I understand how the system works, but it seems horribly wrong that it allowed evil to win.
Forever changed mentally and possibly physically by this whole experience. My doctor tells me my blood pressure is still high.