Saturday, September 9, 2017

Georgia Renters - Prepare for Hurricane with a Review of Your Lease and Renter's Insurance

Georgia renters, while you prepare for the hurricane, pull your lease and renter's insurance policy. If you have to evacuate, take these documents with you or scan the documents and e-mail them to yourself. If your rental unit gets flooded or damaged by wind or heavy rains, your initial contractual rights can be reviewed. LEASES Many leases allow the landlord to terminate the lease if the unit is destroyed by natural disasters (force majeure). Also, partial destruction of the rental unit may not relieve you of your obligation to make timely payments. Remember, any changes to written leases, including termination and the amount of rent or timing of rent must be in writing and signed by both parties. Otherwise, the agreement may not be enforceable. If you don't understand your rights, check with an experienced landlord-tenant attorney. Simply withholding rent because you cannot get back into your apartment or rental house may result in a dispossessory. The court action and the eviction will haunt you for years to come when it shows up on record searches and your credit report. Therefore, it's better to be proactive than reactive. RENTER'S INSURANCE Renter's insurance doesn't cover floods. However, if you can prove the items were damaged by some other cause, you may have a significant claim. Moreover, the insurance policy may cover hotel charges and other expenses even if it doesn't reimburse you for flood damaged items. One you return to your unit and review the damages, call your agent to discuss your coverage.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Tenant Mold Claims are Not Simple Matters

This time of year, the Firm receives at least 10 calls or e-mails a week from tenants who complain about health related issues arising from what they perceive to be "black mold."  According to one expert I spoke with recently, there are hundreds, if not thousands of mold types.  Moreover, mold is all around us (inside and outdoors).  Additionally, black mold can range from harmless to deadly.

People react differently to different types of mold.  Someone with allergies may be particularly susceptible to most molds.  If you believe your apartment or rental unit has mold, you should seek the advice of three specialists:

(1) a certified mold expert to collect samples and send those samples to a lab.
(2) an allergist or another health care provider who can tell you if mold is causing your health problems; and
(3) an experienced toxic mold attorney.

There are several home in the store and advertised online.  Those tests may be a start, but you need a certified mold expert to work with your attorney to write a report and testify in court (if necessary). His testimony will be needed for collection methods, chain of custody, and analysis.

Similarly, an allergist or other health care provider will work with your attorney to prepare a report and testify by way of deposition for court or in preparation for a settlement.

Mold experts and doctors are expensive.  Therefore, if your personal injuries are not substantial, it may not be worth pursing the health claim.  However, other claims may still be available to you.  This is why, an experienced toxic mold attorney is essential to analyze your case to place a value on the matter.

If you don't have a health claim, you may have a property damage, breach of contract, negligence, failure to repair, and/or other tort claims.

The McGill Law Firm handles non-health related claims relating to water intrusion that causes mold and mold related damage.  However, it does not handle toxic mold matters.  If you don't know of anyone who can refer you to a toxic mold attorney, Google "toxic mold attorney" and your city or county.  Most times you will pull up at least 10-20 attorneys to call and interview.


Friday, April 21, 2017

Changes in Locations and Types of Cases

Maryland, DC, and New York Cases (Remote Handling)

Effective May 1, 2017 and for the foreseeable future, with the exception of family law and employment (disputes, termination packages, and discrimination claims) in Maryland, the attorney will not be taking new cases in Maryland, New York, or DC that have to be litigated in court.

I will still accept other non-litigation cases in those states if the matters can be handled remotely from my Georgia offices.

If you are looking for a landlord-tenant attorney in Maryland, DC, or New York, I recommend you go to the several websites such as attorneys.com, lawyers.com, and avvo.com and interview several attorneys about their background and experience before hiring one.

Cases in Georgia

Cases in Georgia will still be handled and litigated as normal.   Go to demandingjustice.com to learn more about the The McGill Law Firm, LLC. The attorney will still represent clients who happen to live out of state, but have cases in Georgia.  Approximately 30% of the Firm's small landlord clients live out of state.

This decrease in travel will allow the attorney more time to handle Georgia landlord-tenant, family law, employment, and contract litigation matters.





Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Inspect Before You Sign Your Lease

Standard leases have several things in common, including a provision that states the following:
(1) the tenant has examined the premises;
(2) the tenant is satisfied with the physical condition of the premises before taking possession; and
(3) Everything is in good working order (except as noted).

So, if you haven't examined the premises by doing a complete walk through, why would you sign the lease?  Do the walk through, make sure the checklist becomes part of the lease, and make sure there is a time is of the essence provisions for those material concerns.  At the minimum, the checklist should be made a part of the lease, and you should receive a copy that day of the lease and all referenced attachments.

If the manager tells you "we don't give keys until the lease has been signed", tell him or her to keep the keys and do the walk though together.  If the manager still refuses your request, you should assume there are major issues that need to be repaired.  The safest thing to do may be to walk away.  This is another reason to sign the lease at least a week or two before you intend to move into the new property.  It's easier to walk away if the moving truck isn't outside the door with the meter running.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The McGill Law Firm - Other Provisions in the Firm's Contract

Below, the Firm provides many of its non-monetary other provision sections in the retainer agreement.  It allows those contemplating hiring the firm to review many of the other terms and conditions of the agreement before visiting the Firm.

As a former client reminded me, there are delays that are inherent in hiring this solo practitioner.  
Landlord-tenant court cases occur quickly and take priority over other matters.  As a result, this attorney may be away from the phone and e-mail handling dispossessory actions.  At the same time, the Firm provides personal service.  That personal service is provided by an attorney with 20+ years of experience.  For the foreseeable future, the Firm does not intend to give client cases to paralegals, young associates, or legal assistants.

SOME OTHER CONTRACT PROVISIONS

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4.Limits on Attorney Time.   Unless you hire an attorney full time, the attorney has other matters that may change deadlines and timing for submitting documents and letter to you or opposing counsel.   In addition, there are inevitable log jams from time to time that cannot be helped.  Also, the firm is a solo firm that provides individual service to its clients.   Therefore, another case may take the firm away from your case for a while.  Appeals, motion responses, court hearings, discovery, emergency petitions are just a few tasks in other cases that may change the deadline I provided to you.  Larger firms may provide quicker service through younger lawyers, paralegals, assistants, and secretaries.  If you are impatient or for other reasons, you understand a larger firm may be a better option for you.    

   
5. Attorney Conflicts.  From time to time two judges will schedule hearings, trials, or calendar calls on the same date.  In those instances, there is normally an orderly way established by the courts to resolve those conflicts.  Normally, the case that is later in time or before an inferior court will have to be continued to another day.  These type of delays are unavoidable.  

6. Holidays, Weekends, and Vacation.  The Firm provides flexible hours for clients to meet with the attorney.  Those times include weekends on occasion.  Also, on many days, e-mails are checked after normal business days.  As a result of this hard work, the attorney is entitled to spend holidays, weekends, and vacation away from the office, e-mails, texts, and calls.  The firm does not handle criminal matters.  There are rarely, if any, emergencies that cannot wait until the attorney returns to the office.  99% of clients understand this downtime requirement.  However, there are always a few unreasonable selfish people who believe attorneys don’t deserve time with their friends and family.  

Similarly, if you notify the attorney that you will be on vacation or that there is a family emergency that you need to handle, the attorney will not bother you unless absolutely necessary.  

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9. Settlement.  Settlement is not guaranteed.  Moreover, in a typical settlement parties do not get everything they want out of the case.  Some say that is an indication that it’s a good settlement.  Settlement is based on many things, including the strength of your case, the reasonableness of your settlement offer, and the value of the case as placed on both sides.  Often, a neutral experienced mediator will be able to guide the parties to a successful settlement.  Moreover, settlement is definite.  Even if you win your case, your opponent always has the option of appealing the judgment.  Appeals are expensive, time consuming, and unpredictable.  There is no guarantee you will be able to collect the judgment from your opponent without time and expense.  The defendant always has the final say about bankruptcy after a judgment, which will result in you receiving nothing or pennies on the dollar in most cases. 

10. Communications.  In most instances, calls and e-mails will be returned within two business days.  However, if you want a return call, you agree to leave a detailed message sufficient for me to return your communication by e-mail.  Otherwise, your call or e-mail will not be returned.  The Firm will provide most updates via e-mails.  Although the Firm generally returns calls and emails within two business days, court, vacation, and depositions may increase that time.  If you don’t hear from the Firm within the two business day limit, do not hesitate to call and e-mail again.   

Moreover, Attorney McGill does not stay tethered to her e-mail and phones.  If she did, she would not be able to meet with clients without being interrupted and would not be able to complete paperwork without being interrupted.  This policy benefits you and other clients.  

 If you want your bill e-mailed versus mailed, sign at the end of this paragraph.   You will be charged $2.00 for administrative fee for each mailed bill.  You can stop the e-mail billing at anytime by notifying the Firm by e-mail by stating  in the subject line “Please Stop Billing Me By E-mail.”  

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Signature for receiving bills by e-mails

11. Updates.  You understand that not every single event or document warrants an update to you.  Moreover, it’s not economically efficient to charge you 0.1 hrs. to tell a client nothing is going on in a case.  If you don’t hear from the Firm and want and update a quick e-mail asking for an update is the best form of communication.   Also, there will be dead spaces in your case in which nothing will occur.  

12. Case Timing.  As with everything else, courts and the Firm have had to work with less.  As a result, it takes longer for a case to be resolved.  In some cases, it may take years.  Attorneys don’t have final control over when your case will have a final hearing or trial.  It up to the judge and the court’s schedule.   Also, if you are a plaintiff, the sheriff  or process server will make attempts at defendant’s last known address.  If a defendant evades service, it may take longer to serve and may be more expensive.  If service is impossible, you have several options that will take longer.  

Also, you are hiring an attorney who handles all aspects of her clients’ open cases.  As a result,  if the Attorney is working hard on one client’s matter, your matter may be delayed.  As a trade off, you get the benefit of having an experienced attorney handle your entire case.  Your matter won’t be pawned off on a paralegal or an attorney with less experience than Ms. McGill.   At the same time, if you delay getting documents or information to the Firm, the delay may change the original timetable a few days, a few weeks, or several weeks regarding when the information can be filed or returned to you.  

Moreover, from time to time I will send you an email about what I would like to do to move your case forward with timetables.  You must approve those steps before I move forward to avoid misunderstandings and delays. 

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17. No Guaranteed Results.  Many contingencies make it impossible to predict the final outcome from settlement or from any judge or jury.  As a result, the Firm has made no guarantee of the outcome of any phase of the matter for which attorneys have been retained and all expressions relative thereto are only their legal opinions given solely in good faith.  These opinions may change at any point in the representation as additional facts and evidence are discovered.  Moreover, the ability of you and your witnesses and your opponent and his/her witnesses to testify, remember and articulate facts will also be determinative of the outcome of the case.    You also understand that settlement is like a wedding ceremony.  Both parties have to say I do before a settlement can take place.  If your opponent refuses to settle, there is nothing you or the Firm can do to force a settlement at the terms that are 100% beneficial to you.  Moreover, in most settlements, neither party gets 100% of what he or she wants.  Judges and mediators often state they can tell when a settlement is good because neither side is satisfied with the outcome.

18. Non-Client Communications.  You understand the attorney-client privilege is important.  As a result, you should not discuss what I have advised you, especially strategy.  You understand that there are several ways to handle a case, and you have hired the Firm to use its judgment regarding which avenue to take.  If you have questions about the methods and procedures relating to the strategies taken by the Firm, ask.  Moreover, the Firm will not discuss privileged communication or work-product with your friends, family, or confidants.  As a result, do not bring them to meetings with the Firm.  It is the Firm’s experience that they do much more harm than good when they get involved with attorney-client communications and strategies.   

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20. Withdrawal.   In a normal year, about 10% of clients believe their cases are going too slowly or they are not getting the outcome they anticipated or the Firm believes they cannot follow what is going on, they have unreasonable expectations, or they are interfering with the normal operation of the Firm or the representation of other clients.  In other cases, the Firm and client cannot see eye to eye on material items.  In those instances, the best option is to part ways as soon as possible.  

Also, at my discretion, I have the right to withdraw from your case if you have misrepresented or failed to disclose material facts to me, if you fail to follow my advice, if you fail to pay fees in accordance with this agreement, or for any other reason.  If the case has not been filed in court, I will send a letter regarding my withdrawal and give you two weeks to find substitute counsel before I turn over your file to you. If the case has been filed in court, the judge will issue an order regarding the withdrawal. 

Likewise, you may discharge me at any time for any reason. You will be required to pay for any time and expense up to that point and for the time expended to turn over the file(s) and other information to you or substitute counsel and for the time and costs if I must proceed to court to obtain permission to withdraw. In any of these events, you will execute such necessary documents as will permit me to withdraw.  



Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Firm is Accepting Landlord-Tenant Cases in the Following Counties


FULTON
DEKALB
GWINNETT
COBB
ROCKDALE
NEWTON


For the Following Counties, Clients are Charged 
Mileage From the Closest Office and Travel Time to Court at $150/hour

Clayton
Paulding
Bartow
Henry
Fayette
Coweta
Spalding
Hall


For the Following Counties, Clients are Charged
Mileage From Closest Office, Lodging and Travel Time to Court at $150/hour

Chatham County (Savannah)
Richmond County (Augusta)
Bibb County (Macon)