Housing Clinic Activities
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
The Housing Clinic’s Spring Semester 2007 students displayed a commitment to furthering its mission of preserving low cost housing in the city. Jason Hart, Wayne Turner, Ariel Shea, Mark Gabriel, and Terry Morris were instrumental in finalizing several settlement agreements for low income clients in the district. The students collected several thousand dollars in damages and rent refunds for their clients.
Jason Hart represented a client who is the sole occupant of a multi-unit building being evicted under the "personal use and occupancy” exception to the Rent Control Act of 1985. He started the settlement negotiations rolling with a "move out” offer to the landlord.
A tenant "buyout” was finalized in which the clients were paid close to 40 thousand dollars and are safely ensconsed in their new housing. Although the clinic attempts to preserve low cost housing whenever possible, the clients decided that making a move was right for them. Another court decision in the spring gave seven tenants $180,000 to divide.
Wayne Turner and Ariel Shea began representation of seven tenants in an apartment building in Southeast. The landlords in this case had simply disappeared for more than two years and then reappeared in a lawsuit for unpaid rent. The conditions in the building are horrendous: rat and roach infestation, overflowing sewer pipes, leaking pipes, holes in the ceiling, lack of heat and overflowing trash.
The Housing Clinic kept its doors open during the summer semester 2007 with students Sarah Snik, Roman Jankowski, Shane Mackey, Marc Borbely, Charles Jeane, Anne Uitvlugt, Jennifer Karr, Yesenia Polanco-Galdamez and Christy Mason-Spurgeon. The clinic’s commitment to representing clients referred by CARECEN (Central American Refugee Empowerment Network) who had tenant petitions pending at the Office of Administrative Hearings allowed several of the students to gain valuable administrative hearing experience.
Charles Jeane and Anne Uitvlugt represented a client during his three day hearing at OAH. They submitted a motion for summary judgment on several issues in the case and are optimistic that the outcome will be in their favor. Christy Mason Spurgeon also wrote a motion for summary judgment for one of her clients.
Several of the tenant petitions filed at OAH were negotiated and settled over the summer. Jennifer Karr negotiated a settlement for one of her clients in a tenant petition case. Sarah Snik, Roman Jankowski and Yesenia Polanco-Galdamez had similar victories negotiating for their clients based on claims of housing code violations and illegal rent increases.
Shane Mackey wrote a "magisterial” motion for preliminary injunction for the clients in Southeast. On the day of the hearing for the motion, the landlords made an offer for settlement that was accepted by the clients. Marc Borbely spent many hours finalizing a settlement agreement that encompassed a myriad of problems in the building, for seven different clients, and that set up a repair schedule based on the severity of the problems.
The fall 2007 semester students, Rosanna Chase, Yancey Burns, Stacey Cash, Phillip Sherman, and Sean Becker were kept quite busy all semester. Stacey and Rosanna are prepared for a hearings at OAH. Phillip Sherman had had the most experience in the courthouse, helping Anne and Charles from the summer finish the hearing at OAH by cross-examining the landlord and writing a closing argument. Stacey Cash settled a case from the summer after a court ordered mediation.
Yancey Burns took the lead on the Southeast case and argued why the landlords should be held in contempt for failing to make repairs agreed to in the settlement. Sean Becker has took new clients from CARECEN, and conducted further negotiations in the "personal use and occupancy” case.
Mark Gabriel, Jason Hart, Professor Allen, Ariel Shea, Wayne Turner and Terry Morris