This is the letter with which I called my former landlord's lawyer's bluff. While there are some limitations on the details I can provide, this was the letter that won the case.
The letter was written in response to a rather insulting settlement offer, whereby I was to pay over one thousand dollars in order to make the case go away. The fact that the offer didn't take my ten thousand dollars in counterclaims seriously, and made all kinds of assumptions, indicated a degree of hubris that just cried out to be shattered.
I do try to meet others' needs whenever possible.
Dear Ms. NameOmitted:
Thank you for your offer. It was quite revealing.
Specifically, the following things become clear from a reading of your e-mail:
1. If you seriously intend to go forward on claims for "lock-change
fees" and "floor damage", this shows one of three things about your
a. You took your client's self-serving statements at face value and
failed to conduct an independent investigation to reach your own
conclusions about the merits of these claims,
b. You visited the scene of the alleged damage and therefore had ample
opportunity to see that these claims, for reasons to which I will
return shortly, are wholly lacking in merit, in which case your
conduct is at best ethically questionable and at worst sanctionable,
c. Your client is attempting to cover his tracks by simply painting
over the evidence, as he has done with the extensive corrosion on the
safety rails in the rear of Building 3, in which I resided.
Even a cursory examination of the site would reveal a water trail
leading directly from your client's defective air conditioning unit to
the floor. I certainly hope that you do not intend to sue me for
damages caused by your client's own failure to maintain the premises
in a safe and habitable condition, and specifically to maintain air
conditioners provided by him. Keep in mind that it was his employees
who first drew my attention to the water leakage issue, and did
basically nothing of substance about it.
Similarly, if your client is alleging and this is strongly suggested
by your discovery requests that I at some point changed the locks to
prevent your client's employees unlawfully entering the premises, this
is patently false. On the date on which I moved out, the
door locks were just as I found them when I moved in in 2004. If
you have a witness testify otherwise, you will be suborning perjury.
2. Your offer assumes that the court will (a) decline to rule for me
on any of my counterclaims and (b) agree that the fair rental value of
the premises is the $595 (and subsequently $610) charged by your
client. This is doubtful for two reasons:
a. There is ample evidence that the apartment, and the complex as a
whole, were shoddily maintained and had inadequate safety and
sanitation. Moreover, if your client intends to maintain that he
believed that the Eisenhower-era air conditioning units he provides
were in good working condition, either he failed to have them checked
out prior to letting, as their visibly deteriorated condition and
advanced age would warrant, or he is a fool and his maintenance staff
are incompetent. Thus, not only is it at best doubtful that the
apartment and the complex were in habitable condition at the relevant
times; the apartment leased to me did not even have the air
conditioning I paid for in good faith.
b. A comparable price to the one charged by your client, in this city,
is charged for units in much better condition, and with substantially
better amenities and maintenance, than those offered by your client.
3. Your client's exposure is not limited to these Municipal Court
proceedings. With ample assistance from you, he has exposed himself to
federal liability under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (see, e.g., Lugar v.
Edmondson Oil Co., Inc., 457 U.S. 922, 102 S.Ct. 2744, 73 L.Ed.2d 482
(1982)). And that is assuming that his other tenants, all of whom have
at least a few causes of action under R.C. Chapter 5321, don't get the
idea of suing him as well. Moreover, your client is exposed to
potentially substantial losses should the court order him not to let
any unoccupied units until the necessary repairs are completed.
4. In a phone conversation initiated by your client in the afternoon
of 20 April 2004, he admitted to me that his employees had recently
attempted to gain entry to my apartment without prior notice or
consent. While he claimed that this was due to an "urgent issue", this
is clearly belied by the fact that no one had called me until then,
and that his employees failed to keep the appointment they had made
with me for 24 April 2006 at 1:00 p.m. to complete the allegedly
5. Your client will not have the sympathy of the court. It will
quickly become clear that your client is in essence a slumlord who has
introduced projects-style property management tactics to Mt.
Lookout. His arrogance and sense of entitlement will not play well on
In light of the foregoing, a more reasonable number would be as
follows. Taking as a jumping-off point your $1220.00 figure, let us
further assume (conservatively) that the value of the various things
(adequate maintenance, functioning air conditioners) your client was
obligated to provide, but did not is between $100 and $200 a month.
Splitting the difference, we arrive at $150 a month. This figure would
then be multiplied by the 16 months in which rent was indisputably
paid to arrive at a product of $2400.00. We would then subtract the
total difference between the fair value of the apartment thus obtained
from the figure you propose, arriving at $1,180.00 owed to me. Please
note that these calculations do not include any figure for damages
arising out of repeated unlawful entry. I would be willing to cut this
number in half and settle all claims currently filed and contemplated
for the sum of $590.00 (one half of $1,180.00) payable to me upon
Your "offer" would have been perfectly acceptable when I was still in
possession of the apartment. That time is past.