Obligatory "Pity Me" Thread

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    TheClarinetist posted Tue, 29 Nov 2011 06:02:00 GMT(11/29/2011)

    Post 467 of 606
    Joined 9/17/2009

    Since my thread asking for advice exploded into a conversation about whether or not it is legal to give advice about legal matters, I figured I'd repost my craziness here and update.

    My lovely girlfriend accidentally blew up the kitchen while sauteeing chicken in hot oil. By blew up, I mean she accidentally set the stove and wall on fire. It was pretty crazy, we had three fire trucks and an ambulance there. Shortly after the fire, we discovered that we didn't have renters insurance (which we were told by our other roommate that it was taken care of) and things exploded from there.

    Needless to say, our landlord was pissed with a capital 'P'. She had given this townhome to her son as a gift in order to help start out his investment portfolio, and she went into mother hen mode. She called her insurance company and started talking to contractors to fix the damage. We didn't hear anything about it for a couple of weeks until on Thanksgiving, when she gave us a final bill of $1,613. Considering what had happened, it was a fair price, though we asked her how it breaks down anyway because we didn't know what the insurance was paying for, etc. She refused, and some craziness ensued (including a post asking for advice on here when I couldn't find a lawyer to talk to immediately about how to respond to her email), but finally her husband stepped in and told us the specifics of what we were paying for (deductible, some cleaning not covered by the insurance, and some money for depreciation of the property value. Nothing I would argue with).

    Anyway, we've been struggling financially already, and don't even have enough money to pay next months rent (before all this happened). We've been looking for loans, but we warned her that the loans may not come through by the deadline she's given us to pay up (December 4th). She has since responded by telling us that if we don't pay by that time, she's going to refuse the insurance money and go after us for the entirety of the damages ($9.5k), and that she would be taking everyone who is on the lease to court, including one roommate who wasn't there when the fire happened, and another that moved out a couple weeks before the fire, but just happens to still be on the lease.

    Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I've been having panic attacks so bad that I've been missing classes left and right and am failing everything. I've been sent home from work because I was having panic attacks three times. Fortunately, my parents are still willing to pay for my medical bills at least, so I'll be getting drugs for that pretty soon. But I can hardly believe all this craziness.

    (Also: I'm going tomorrow to talk to the UNT Legal Department and will be making an appointment with a lawyer from a non-profit organization that provides legal help to poor people [which we discovered earlier today has an office serendipitously located across the street from us])

    M JeffT posted Tue, 29 Nov 2011 06:22:00 GMT(11/29/2011)

    Post 5757 of 7061
    Joined 6/4/2001

    Bummer.

    As I stated on your earlier thread I've been in multi-family housing for a number of years. I've been down this road a number of times, although on the other side of it.

    Seeing the legal people is extremely important. I don't know anything about Texas, here in Washington your landlady would be skating on very thin ice if she "refused the insurance money." A lawyer there can offer advice on dealing with that.

    After you see the lawyers, find your campus counseling office and talk this over with a psychologist. You need to deal with the stress before you create another problem inside your self.

    A final word: don't take this too seriously or personally. Your landlady is nuts. It sounds like you're in a college town and therefore the primary rental market is going to be college students. Sterotypes have their origins in real events, and college students do some remarkably dumb stuff to the places they live in. Just picture your landlady's face when she walks into the place next year and somebody rebuilt his Harley-Davidson in the middle of the living room carpet. Or gets called by the police at three in the morning because her tenants are throwing empty beer kegs off the roof.

    Hang in there, you'll get through it.

    M AK - Jeff posted Tue, 29 Nov 2011 11:50:00 GMT(11/29/2011)

    Post 11329 of 10727
    Joined 11/19/2004

    Don't know a thing about this legally. But, I assume, the owner must carry fire insurance, and it would seem proper that the insurance would cover the expenses of repair.

    My advise: Do not pass go, do not collect $200. Have a consultation with a lawyer [most offer free first consultations] and find out if any of this is your obligation.

    I was once renting a house that burned to the ground. We were not at fault as far was it was ever determined - the fire was in a ceiling and probably caused by a leak in the wood-stove chimney, but was never determined as far as I know.

    We paid nothing. The landlord's insurance paid it all.

    Unless there is a clause in the contract that forbids the activity that your GF was doing, why should you be held responsible unless your contract states so?

    Jeff

    Listener posted Tue, 29 Nov 2011 12:37:00 GMT(11/29/2011)

    Post 589 of 1599
    Joined 9/26/2010

    Ask her for reciepts. Determine who did the cleaning and ask why you weren't given the opportunity to do it. I don't know how you think the depreciation for loss of value is reasonable. If the insurance company did their job properly the kitchen would be as new and in better shape than before and that would increase it's value.

    Have a look at your lease agreement and see if you agreed to being held responsible for accidents.

    The landlady is wacko and she sounds like she is just being threatening when she says she will not go through insurance, the wheels have been in motion and it is probably to late for her to change the arrangement. Taking everyone on the lease to court sounds very strange when there was only one person that caused this.

    dm6 posted Tue, 29 Nov 2011 12:37:00 GMT(11/29/2011)

    Post 426 of 457
    Joined 7/2/2011

    I like how you but a bracket sentence inside of a bracket sentence and closed it with both brackets at the end there.

    Kind of like that movie where those dudes have dreams inside of dreams inside of dreams.

    kind of like facebook too, i beileve there is now a small mini facebook, in your facebook.

    Please, sit on my facebook.

    F AGuest posted Tue, 29 Nov 2011 16:45:00 GMT(11/29/2011)

    Post 8195 of 9474
    Joined 3/26/2001

    At the risk of ticking of any REAL attorneys here, I would like to offer the following COMMENTS (which are NOT "advisory"), dear C (peace to you!). Please note, this is NOT legal advice (which would be advising as to what you should can/should DO), nor is it intended to be... but purely observations, suggestions, and an attempt to help you try and find some "calm" for your spirit at this time. Now, then:

    1. The costs seem "reasonable," as YOU state. It probably consists of a $1,500 deductible (which your landlord can ask you to pay) and another $113 for cleaning... a $1,000 deductible and $613 cleaning bill... or something like that. The "depreciation" may be affected due to the fact that there has BEEN a fire, even if the kitchen is renovated. An ATTORNEY can help you discern that.

    2. From YOUR comments, it APPEARS that your landlady is making a bigger deal of this than need be, but WE only have your side/POV - and so, no idea just how "bad" it was. That you're still living there SUGGESTS to ME that it's not TOO bad (i.e., the unit can still be occupied... but that could change, given the work to be done); however, an ATTORNEY can tell you more accurately if it is or isn't;

    3. In CALIFORNIA, a landlord does not HAVE to file a claim with their insurance (due to the potential negative effective on their premium and the fact they didn't ENSURE that you carried renters' insurance); however, a court may compel them to, in light of your obvious inability to pay the full costs of $9.5k and her obligation to mitigate her losses. An attorney can advise you on how to approach and what to ask the court for, if it comes down to that. Most probably, they will help you "mediate" a way to pay this $1,613 bill (i.e., an ATTORNEY can help you draw up a payment offer and plan (as can a mediator but YOU have to decide that - no one here can... or is... ADVISING you as to which one), because you most probably won't get out of paying SOME or all of her demand, but certainly no one HERE can tell you that for sure, of course);

    4. "Stuff" happens in rental housing... including [kitchen] fires... which is what insurance is FOR and so what your landlady has been paying for... and so it's not the end of the world. There IS a solution and a way to resolve this matter that doesn't have to be too painful... and which you can survive. An ATTORNEY (or mediator) can help you find/mediate that solution;

    5. You will get past this... one way or another. An ATTORNEY should be able to tell you that. Doing it without drugs might be something to consider, given your student status and need to get back on track and through your classes. An ATTORNEY will most probably tell you that, too (unless, of course, he/she is thinking of having you sue for "intentional infliction of emotional distress" and so NEED you to be on drugs for that.) Of course, I can't... and never WOULD... "advise" you NOT to take medication that you need. Only you and your DOCTOR can and should make that decision. But, either way... you dear folks WILL look back on this down the line... perhaps even telling your grandchildren... about the day "Grandma" burned down the kitchen... and how some folks (including an ATTORNEY) actually got into a [very] silly little "scuffle" over it... on the Internet. Of course, you might have to explain the "Internet" to them, by then. LOLOLOL!

    Peace, dear C... and happy resolution of this matter and your concerns!

    SA, on her own...

    Violia posted Tue, 29 Nov 2011 18:25:00 GMT(11/29/2011)

    Post 2234 of 3532
    Joined 4/11/2009

    http://library.law.smu.edu/Research-Tools/Research-Guides/Texas-Law-(300)/307-Small-Claims-Court---Texas

    If she does go to small claims court she could get a 'judgment" but in Texas they cannot garnish your wages-unless it is the IRS or child support or student loans( basically anything related to the government). However, no ones wants a judgment against them, so try and work this out with the lawyer.

    BTW, my hubby and I have used SMU law school and found the students to be very nice. We had a problem that fit into what a student needed to go toward getting credit for that semester -so it worked out great.

    TheClarinetist posted Sat, 24 Dec 2011 21:04:00 GMT(12/24/2011)

    Post 514 of 606
    Joined 9/17/2009

    @Charlie Brown Jr. : Yep... I don't know how you can see it.

    Hijacking my own thread because I feel the need to vent and don't want to make a fuss in another thread (I do that way too much):

    Now the landlord is bitching at us about not getting everything cleaned for an inspection yesterday. We've been moving into the downstairs and attempting to move out the last of our roommate's stuff. It's been very time consuming, and out of the 10 days we had between given to clean, we've spent several in my fiancee's home town because first her cat (and best friend since she was 6) died, and then her grandfather got double pneumonia and is currently in the process of dying. Meanwhile, we've been given till Tuesday to get the place spotless because the owner is coming to see the place (owner is the landlord's son), and they "don't care that it's christmas". My fiancee is going crazy and can barely function from all the stuff that's been going on, and I'm not very far behind her. Oh, and the utilities are getting shut off on the 5th and we won't be able to pay for rent unless we somehow convince her grieving grandmother to give us around $2k. FML

    Band on the Run posted Sat, 24 Dec 2011 21:54:00 GMT(12/24/2011)

    Post 3534 of 9802
    Joined 12/18/2010

    Besides divorce and child custody, being in an adversarial position that involves where you live has to the hardest. I had a small landlord/tenant matter. It is very different than some abstract argument. Try the St. Vincent de Paul Society. When I was at my wit's end, my landlord told me about them. Since I am not Catholic, I dismissed them. I found out how venal my local Anglican priest was. The same night they paid me a call. I felt as though Jesus was personally visiting me.

    I thought your gf purposefully started a fire. The damages are so minimal but b/c it is your home, please see a TExas lawyer who specializes in landlord/tenant law. Some jurisidctions allow you to have a lawyer do the heavy work and you can do self-help on the easy things. Seeing a lawyer should be worth it for the mental stress relieved. Aren't you a university student? Counselling should be available and perhaps more than counseling.

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