Friday, September 28, 2018

Types of Landlord-Tenant Cases the Firm Will Accept (Effective Oct. 1, 2018)

Monday, October 1st, marks the 16th anniversary of the Firm.  Experience and client referrals have brought an increased demand for services.  In the last three months, the Firm has seen an explosion in demand.  Because I want to remain small without sacrificing client satisfaction, certain services will be discontinued.

The Firm will Continue to Accept the Following Cases:

                1.   Dispossessory actions (small landlords and all tenants, hourly rate and flat fee)
                2.   Lease review and negotiations (commercial and residential)
                3.   Civil actions with a value of $20,000 or more for failure to repair, negligence,  breach of contract, nuisance, breach of the warranty of habitability, etc.(flat and hourly rate arrangements)
                4.   Repair and stay negotiations (hourly rate only)
                5.   Breach of lease claims (wrongful termination)(hourly rate only)
                6.   Civil actions (wrongful eviction, conversion)
                7.   Return of Security Deposit (defense of small landlords and prosection by tenants whose landlords have more than 10 rental units) 
                8.   Appeals to State or Superior Court (hourly rate only)
                9.   Appeals to Court of Appeals or Supreme Court (hourly rate only)
                10. Litigation for damages to rental property (pursue and defend).
                11. Fair Housing violations claims and defenses (all tenants and all landlords)(hourly rate only)

The Firm will no Longer Accept the Following Cases:

                1.   Claims by tenants against small landlords for failure to return a security deposit
                2.   Negotiations to terminate leases because of a failure to repair, nuisance, or insects.
                3.   Roommate disputes
                4.   Family-related landlord-tenant disputes unless a written lease exists
                5.   Health problems caused by mold 
                6.   Defense of tenants in dispossessory actions for failure to pay rent. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2018


Most non-criminal attorneys lead predictable lives.  The week to week schedule can remain firm.
However, in some practices, like mine, the day is day is totally unpredictable.  My two primary areas of practice are landlord-tenant and family law (divorces, child support, child custody, legitimation).

Many landlord-tenant cases have very short, but volatile lives.  While working on demand letters for security deposits or nonemergency repairs, I can receive 3-5 calls a day from people who just received pay or quit notices, lease termination notices, or dispossessory affidavits. When those calls come in, they are treated like the people who come to an emergency room with chest pains.  Those cases are placed at the beginning of the line, triaged and monitored for about 7-14 days. 

So, what happens to the initial demand letters?  They are the people in the emergency room with stomach aches, broken bones, and busted lips.  Their queue numbers may go from 3 to 8 to 2 to 4 to 2 to 1 (finally).    Just like a real-life emergency room, some people who have the stomach aches and broken bones leave,  go to another hospital, self-treat at home, or wait until their numbers are called.  For those who wait, once the doctor sees them, they are satisfied with the diagnosis and prognosis.  Of course, they are not happy with the late treatment.

In my practice, there are few tenant attorneys who have the experience and offer reasonable rates.  So, the wait is inevitable.  For those who cannot wait to have their stomach ache looked at, other attorneys may be able to help.  Those attorneys may or may not have similar wait times.

Starting October 1, 2018, several cases I normally take will no longer be accepted, and new policies will be enforced.  Those cases I no longer handle can probably be taken by lawyers with 1/5 of my experience.  Foregoing the simple cases will decrease the queue and allow for a smoother system.

First and foremost, if you are a tenant, all fees will have to paid at the time the contract is returned.  Additional activities not in the contract will be billed by a handwritten invoice with payment due within 10 days.

Additionally, for tenants who want to sue their landlords for withholding their security deposits, the leases have to allow for attorneys' fees for the prevailing party and the landlords must have more than 10 rental units.

Also, the posted initial consultation office rate of $85-150 for 30 minutes will be strictly enforced.  Therefore, if the meeting exceeds 30 minutes, you will be charged for the additional time.

For dispossessory actions,  the Firm no longer accepts checks if payment is made within 7 days of the hearing.

For appeals to state or superior court, the Firm will charge an hourly rate.  The first 10 hours plus estimated expenses must be paid with the submission of the signed contract.