Thursday, September 17, 2020

Landlords are Still Blocked from Evicting Certain Tenants

 The CARES Act passed by Congress and signed on March 27, 2020, placed a moratorium on evictions for certain landlords and renters.  This protection ended July 25, 2020.  Therefore, a detailed analysis of this expired Act is not necessary.  

Approximately 1-1/2 months after the expiration of the CARES Act, the Center for Disease Controlled stepped into the landlord-tenant relationship and issued a temporary halt to certain residential evictions.  This is a broader moratorium than the CARES Act because it covers landlords regardless of whether they have a federal loan or accept VA or Section 8 tenants. Unlike the CARES Act, this moratorium allows the landlord to charge fees, penalities, or interest as a result of the failure to pay rent or other housing payment. The CDC states, it issued its moratorium to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.  Therefore, it covers residential tenants until December 31, 2020.  

The tenants must sign a declaration that states the following: 

(1) The individual has used best efforts to obtain all available government assistance for rent or housing;

(2) The individual either (i) expects to earn no more than $99,000 in annual income for Calendar Year 2020 (or no more than $198,000 if filing a joint tax return),[6] (ii) was not required to report any income in 2019 to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, or (iii) received an Economic Impact Payment (stimulus check) pursuant to Section 2201 of the CARES Act;

(3) the individual is unable to pay the full rent or make a full housing payment due to substantial loss of household income, loss of compensable hours of work or wages, a lay-off, or extraordinary [7] out-of-pocket medical expenses;

(4) the individual is using best efforts to make timely partial payments that are as close to the full payment as the individual's circumstances may permit, taking into account other nondiscretionary expenses; and

(5) eviction would likely render the individual homeless—or force the individual to move into and live in close quarters in a new congregate or shared living setting—because the individual has no other available housing options.

If you are in Cobb, Dekalb, Gwinnett, Cherokee, Clayton or Fulton Counties, and you are a tenant or small landlord, contact me with any questions by e-mail at demandingjustice@gmail.com


Friday, August 21, 2020

Employers Open Themselves Up to Reverse Discrimination Claims in this Woke Era

I've practiced employment discrimination on and off since 1986.  This new woke era is the first time I've seen employers take what appears to be blatantly racist stances.  Seminars that tout white fragility and accuse white people of being evil and unabashedly racist may be seen as racial harassment and discrimination.    

More recently, Goodyear stated masks and shirts stating "Black Lives Matter" were acceptable, while "White Lives Matter", "All Lives Matter" and "Blue Lives Matter" were unacceptable.  They have since backtracked on the "Blue Lives". Black Lives Matters, the organization, is a Marxist organization that wants to dismantle the nuclear family.  Touting a political organization or party may be harmful to the bottom line and may have some election law consequences, but it is very tangential to employment discrimination laws. 

However, the EEOC and courts may have to weigh in on zero-tolerance policies that allow employees to wear Black Lives Matter, but disallow similar attire that touts White Lives Matter or Hispanic Lives Matter or Chinese Lives Matter or All Lives Matter.  Arguably, such a policy is discriminatory or  creates a hostile work environment? If a white employee goes to HR to complain and gets fired, can he successfully file against the employer? All these questions remain open.  

If you are an employee or employer who has questions about the new woke workplace environment,  call or e-mail me. (770)367-1234 or demandingjustice@gmail.com  At the minimum, a covered employee can file a charge with the EEOC.  The charge is not public and the entire matter can be resolved at the EEOC level.


Tuesday, June 30, 2020

New Closure Date

My new retirement date is March 7, 2021. 

This gives me time to get through COVID delayed cases and take a very small handful of new landlord tenant cases.

I am available for an hour consultation, as long as you know I probably won't represent you in your case. However, if you plan to represent yourself, an hour consultation may be invaluable.

It's been great meeting and working with many folks, but of course not all. Before I get too old, I want to go back to school, refresh my business degrees, and go into the corporate nonlegal world. 

I can still be reached at (770)367-1234. My voicemail gets filled quickly. So, email me at demandingjustice@gmail.com. I check my email at least once a day.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Short Lived Break/Semi-Retirement

Thanks to the Corona virus and the uncertainty in the rental market, the Firm is moving to full-time hours again on April 1 to answer your landlord tenant questions, negotiate back rent payments, and represent small landlords and all tenants in eviction matters in Magistrate Court.

For now, the hours are 11-3.
Starting April 1, the hours will be
Mon - 1:00 - 4:00
Tues - Thurs - 10:00 - 4:00 
Fri 10:00 -3:00
Weekends - Closed

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Negotiate Payment Dates Before You Sign Your Lease

If you get paid on the 1st and the 15th of each month, before you sign your lease negotiate a payment date with management in writing to avoid late fees and dispossessory filings.

For instance, the rent payment can be split and due on the 2nd and 16th of each month. 

Any changes to the standard must be in an addendum and made a part of the lease.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Satisfied Client Wanted to Hire Me Again

A former client made my day by touting how much she liked  the way I practiced and  handled her first matter. She wanted to hire me again on another unrelated case.

Unfortunately, I don't practice in that area. Nevertheless, she made my day. I must be doing something right.

Changing how I practice by getting rid of the slower personal service is not an option.  Impatient speed demons can go around and find someone else.

This call and many others show slow and steady wins the race.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

AGAIN - TENANTS SHOULD CONSULT OR HIRE AN ATTORNEY BEFORE GOING TO COURT

Early this week I sat in court in Savannah while a woman tried to explain why she had not paid rent.  Her excuse related to health problems.  This was no excuse or defense under the law.  Unfortunately, she just glanced over a defense that may have afforded a few weeks, instead of the 7 days.

More specifically, before a landlord files a dispossessory, he or she must demand possession of the premises beforehand.  Oftentimes, landlords are quick to the draw and miss this step.  She breezed over this omission by noting he just said I was late and then I received this notice for court.

This failure to give notice should be given in your answer as an affirmative defense.  However, if you have already filed your answer, you can still raise it in court.  However, in that instance, you have the burden of proving the defense. 

In the case in Savannah, the landlord's attorney, but not the landlord appeared. 
Therefore, if the poor woman had just focused on that defense, above all, she would have won because there would have been nobody there to dispute her assertion. 

Again, if the case had been dismissed on this technicality, it would have allowed her approximately
2-3 weeks to find a new place.

An experienced tenant attorney would have given her that defense in a short phone call or a 30 minute consultation.  This information would have armed her with a defense to represent herself and win in court.  Don't short change yourself by doing it alone.  Get some help with an experienced tenant attorney. 

Monday, January 13, 2020

Pro Se Litigants - Second Time Around

I've received calls from 2× pro se litigants who allowed hubris to cost them a case.  More specifically, they represented themselves in a landlord-tenant matter and won against a lawyer.
Now, they'll Clarence Darrow and are telling everyone within ear shot.

Next time the "winner" has a dispute, he thinks lawyers are a waste of money. He's not even going to seek a free phone consultation.  This time, the internet lawyer loses. He waits weeks after the hearing to call a lawyer.  In a normal civil action in Georgia, a 2-3 week delay isn't fatal. However, dispossessory/eviction cases aren't normal civil actions.

Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on your position, eviction cases are on a rocket docket.  7 days after a judgment for the landlord, the tenant must vacate or file an appeal.  Paying the landlord the judgment won't save you unless you entered into a settlement agreement to stay or the order specifically states you can pay then stay.

If you don't understand what's in an order, schedule an office visit to learn your rights and responsibilities. If you don't understand all terms in a settlement agreement, you should consider the pros and cons of settling versus going before a judge.