Big Housing Clinic Victory!
Tuesday, October 08, 2013
Posted by: Joe Libertelli
In September 2007, the UDC
Clarke School of Law Housing Clinic filed a tenant petition on behalf of
tenants whose apartment was overrun with rodents and bugs. Student
Attorneys Julie Akemann, ‘09 and Darren Schultz, ‘09 represented the
tenants at a three-day hearing in spring, 2008.
Administrative Law Judge
Claudia Barber issued her decision in April 2010 that the landlord illegally
raised the rent when the apartment was not in compliance with the Housing Code
and ordered a refund of all amounts collected over the rolled back level, which
she calculated as $1200. Additionally, the ALJ found that the landlord
was not providing all of the services promised by the lease agreement for the
time the infestations persisted and ordered an additional refund of $100 per
month from the earliest date within the Statute of Limitations through the date
of the hearing, a period of a little over 44 months. She trebled both
these amounts because she found that the landlord acted in bad faith by not
doing everything he could to abate the infestations. Our clients were,
therefore, awarded $16,800, plus interest. Additionally, Judge Barber
awarded the Housing Clinic almost $10,000 in legal fees, and imposed civil
fines of $20,000 on the landlord.
The landlord appealed the decision to
the Rental Housing Commission. Sarah
Bardos, ’12, defended Judge Barber’s decision at oral arguments in October
2011. The RHC released its decision about a week ago on September 27,
2013, affirming all of Judge Barber’s findings and conclusions, and all of her
orders. One of the commissioners dissented on the issue of the civil
fines, believing that they were excessive; however, he agreed with the overall
opinion that our clients were entitled to the rent rollback, the refund, the
treble damage, and the award of attorneys’ fees.
another victory for the Housing Clinic! Congrats!