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Emilie M Fairbanks

Emilie Fairbanks’s Answers

100 total


  • Why would a plaintiff "reserve all rights?"

    I was a defendant in landlord and tenant court, and at my hearing I was granted a continuance for ascertainment of counsel. The plaintiff "reserved all rights," and then I requested to reserve all rights as well, as I've read in several places t...

    Emilie’s Answer

    Marc has given an extremely complete answer so I'll just add a couple things. First, as he said the landlord can now request any protective order be retroactive to today so if you can set aside the money so you can pay it into the court registry if ordered. Second, judges are people. Some have a more lighthearted manner and will joke with litigants. Don't take it personally. You asked for and protected your rights. If your case goes on for any length of time you will likely see several judges and all will run their courtrooms somewhat differently. The more you can just roll with the mood of the judge and stick with your goals for the hearing without getting flustered the better you will do.

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  • Our basement apartment is rented mth-to-mth to a couple. Any pitfalls we should anticipate re 30d notice of termination?

    We want to use the basement space so our children can have adequate private space. The main area is now too small.

    Emilie’s Answer

    In DC you must have a reason to give a notice, such as the tenant violating the lease, no longer paying rent, or a few other specific reasons. The fact that the lease has expired isn't enough. A month-to-month tenancy has no real meaning in DC. The law is unique. You may be able to proceed but it would likely be a complex process. I would consult an attorney about your options before taking any action.

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  • In Maryland, If tenant is not served personally, can landlord get money judgment?

    I found out about the judgment on the Md. Judiciary website. I contacted the law office to work something out, and was told it was too late. I was told I should have contacted them when I received the summons. Problem is, I never received a summon...

    Emilie’s Answer

    Go to court. Just because the other side doesn't want to work something out with you doesn't mean the judge will just do what they want. If you are still living in the property and can pay the rent on the judgment before the court date, do so. If you weren't served you can raise that issue. You also want to make sure the amount is correct and you may be able to challenge the late fees if they exceed 5%. If you don't go to court, you can't challenge anything.

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  • Can I break my lease without incurring a huge fee for egregious secondhand smoke exposure?

    -I have asthma and allergies which are greatly exacerbated by the secondhand smoke exposure -Had bronchitis and a terrible cough for 2 months straight after moving in

    Emilie’s Answer

    That depends on a variety of factors. Does management allow smoking? If not, try reporting the offending neighbor first and see if you can resolve the issue. If so, they may argue you knew smoking was permitted. But if the ventilation doesn't permit enough fresh air in or uses too much recirculated air, it could be a violation of the DC Housing Code. Have you discussed with your landlord that you want to move and the reasons? Sometimes you can work out an agreement with the landlord.

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  • How much can my landlord legally raise our rent, given our month-to-month status?

    1) Our landlords just unsuccessfully attempted to evict us because we refused to sign a new lease and desired to go month-to-month after living in the unit for 2 years. We have been on a month-to-month basis since August 1. 2) They are trying to...

    Emilie’s Answer

    If your landlord has a registered exemption from rent control and you are month to month nothing legally prevented from increasing your rent. You can always try to negotiate with him and discuss how you can make things work better. But look around at market rents for your neighborhood for similar properties. Is the increase reasonable? Rents are increasing in DC and in some areas more than others. Figure out what it would cost you to rent another similar property so your negotiations are informed.

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  • Can I add an addendum 3 months into the lease because I'm seeing problems?

    I have a lease in place with a tenant signed in May 2013. The tenant began having problems beginning in July, carrying through September. I added several addendum's after the lease was signed without a signature from the tenant. Would the new a...

    Emilie’s Answer

    The tenant would need to sign the addendum for it to be enforceable. If you are having escalating problems with a tenant in DC you should get legal advice sooner rather than later. The DC rules are complicated and you can damage your ability to prosecute a case even before the problem fully develops.

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  • Can our landlord serve us with a "Notice to Vacate in 30 Days" without a reason in DC?

    Our lease ended and we are going month-to-month (with no lease). Our landlords were angry that we didn't want to sign a year lease, and served us with a Notice to Vacate. It is our understanding that they need a reason? We do not have to leave? O...

    Emilie’s Answer

    Nope, they must have a reason. But you do still have a lease, all of the old lease terms still apply until you sign a new lease, so if you couldn't have a pet or you were only allowed certain occupants, those rules still apply. Being month to month also means your rent can be increased. If your landlord has fewer than four units he is likely exempt from rent control and rents do continue to go up so you could be facing an increase. Living in a property where the landlord doesn't want you may not be the best thing for the long term. While you may not want to move immediately and it doesn't sound like you are required to, perhaps you want to consider trying to sit down with the landlord and figure out what his concerns really are so you can have a good relationship going forward. Considering the rent increase issue, its also always good to be looking for your next apartment so you have the flexibility to move if you need to.

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  • Did my landlord fail to provide full disclosure on pending sale or negotiate in bad faith?

    I rented an apartment 6 weeks ago. When I signed my lease the manager disclosed the building was for sale. I queried this extensively, however, I was told a buyer had not yet been found. After moving in, I discovered the sale was underway. A tenan...

    Emilie’s Answer

    • Selected as best answer

    The sale of the building doesn't cancel your lease but if the new owners plan to do renovations and the soon to be prior owner just wants to sell, you may be able to negotiate your way out of the lease. The new owner will likely want to choose their own tenants and do renovations without hassle so you may be doing them a favor.

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  • My tenant and I entered into a Contract to Purchase and he continues to reside in the property despite not closing. What to do?

    I own a condo in Washington, DC and provided 90-day notice to my tenant that I intended to sell the property. The tenant and I later entered into a Contract to Purchase (with a Deposit) but the tenant has missed both settlement dates and continue...

    Emilie’s Answer

    Missing a settlement date isn't necessarily a material breach in DC if the party can show why the date was missed. Is he still paying you rent? If he has stopped paying rent you may be able to sue for nonpayment. Do you know what the issue is, financing, etc? These TOPA situations in DC can drag out.

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  • My landlord cut my power off , what can i sue her for

    Its a apartment in dc i just pay rent and utilities

    Emilie’s Answer

    You said you pay utilities. If you pay the electric bill directly then the landlord would not be at fault for the power being turned off. If you pay the landlord for utilities you can call the DCRA and request an emergency housing inspection. You can also file in Housing Conditions Court but it takes a couple weeks to get a court date so alternatively you could file a TRO. There isn't anything a tenant can affirmatively file in Landlord & Tenant Court in DC. If you have a lease showing the landlord provides your utilities you can also contact PEPCO and ask the power be turned back on through a receivership proceeding. The first place to go is DCRA.

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