Justice Friended: A good referral goes a long way

Our client saw no relief in sight as he struggled with keeping a secure home, so his 6-year-old twins could continue to visit each weekend. His apartment needed repairs, his landlord ignored him, his hours at work had been greatly reduced, and his unemployment compensation didn’t cover his bills.

Our client was expecting that his employer would soon offer him more hours and that he could make a payment plan for the money he owed. He was already four months behind on rent, when a friend told him to call the AIDS Law Project. By the time he contacted us, his landlord had filed a complaint seeking eviction and $5,100 in back rent.

The client also told us that leaks in his downstairs rooms caused mold and that the windows were painted shut and the air couldn’t circulate. The landlord refused to fix the problem.
With his low income and high debt, we advised him that it was unlikely we could successfully negotiate an affordable payment plan that would allow him to remain in his apartment. The client was willing to try a fresh start at a new apartment, but he was anxious about the consequences of having a large debt on his credit report.

From conversations with the client, we determined that the landlord had failed to certify that the property was lead free. Philadelphia’s lead law requires that rental properties, in which children age six and under reside, be certified. When we brought up this defense and the ignored repair requests, the landlord agreed to waive the money our client owed, as long as he left the property in one month.
Our client is moving in with a friend while he waits to be called back to work full-time. He is also waiting to be assigned a medical case manager to help him apply for rental assistance, when he is ready to make his next move.

With good friends and a good lawyer, his future looks much more promising.