Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Sometimes, I feel like there is not enough soap on the planet to make me feel clean again after an afternoon in housing court.

I represent landlords, and most of the time, I feel okay about this. Property rights are extremely important, and one should not be forced to put up with tenants who do not pay or who purposefully destroy your property (like leaving hunks of meat on the floor to grow maggots and locking the house up in 100 degree heat which is what one of my landlord client's tenants did (after they took a sledgehammer to the bathroom and several walls)). Generally speaking, in this town, most tenants will have gone three months without paying before they are actually physically removed from the property. Most people can usually come up with other arrangements in that three month period of time.

In one case I had today, I was representing a mortgage company that had foreclosed on the property, so, in this unusual circumstance, which is complex and I won't bore you, the mortgage had not been paid since November of 2003. So, the former owner, the person who I was evicting, had not paid any money for almost three years. Normally, I feel absolutely no guilt about such a situation. If I could not pay MY mortgage for three years...well, let's just say that I would have a lot of money, and I expect that most people would at least be able to come up with a first and last month's rent on a new place. (I like to think that most of the people I am foreclosing on will use their 9 to 18 month respite from paying their mortgage (because in Ohio you can continue to live in the house while the foreclosure is pending, and in most counties it takes 9 to 18 months to complete a foreclosure) to try to save some money to "start over" in a new place. Perhaps this is a PollyAnna-ish way of looking at things.)

HOWEVER, in this particular case, the former owner (the person I was asking to leave the premises) was 90 years old. NINETY.

This case is right up there with the woman who had the six year old with cancer in terms of my personal feelings of filthiness.

I suspect that the man was being taken advantage of by a neighbor, because he insisted that his neighbor had his checkbook and had been paying the mortgage for years. (NOT.) (I'm pretty sure the only person the neighbor was paying was...the neighbor.)

He also believed that he would be receiving some money from his cousin's estate in NIGERIA. Hello, can you say Internet SCAM?

Last month, I directed this man to legal aid. Legal aid has connected him to the VA and to some other social programs. The problem is, the man is refusing help from the VA and social service agencies.

I entered into an agreement to give him a few more weeks to secure alternate housing. I still feel dirty, and I feel like the systems that are in place to help this man are not working because he is refusing their help, and buying into some crazy internet scam about his dead cousin. I wish I could make this outcome different, but, I don't honestly know what else to do. I made sure he got a lawyer. I've entered into agreements with him. But, my client owns the house now. Sigh.

Additionally, this week, I have had a case blow up in such a way that it could possibly cost my client $50,000, and the thought of this is making me not able to breathe.



Blogger Christina said...

Oh Gretchen, I'm really not envying your job today. But I really don't think you are the "bad" one in this 90 year old man's case... the ones who should feel filthy are his neighbor and the internet scammer. Does the guy have any family who can help him? (I mean real family, not living in Nigeria!)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006 4:42:00 PM  
Blogger Danielle said...

I am sure you did everything you could to help your client. You are a great lawyer.

And the 90 year old- he can come and live with me.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006 5:23:00 PM  
Blogger jenn said...

Rough week, hang in there!

Thursday, October 12, 2006 3:57:00 PM  

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