Yesterday evening, there was a knock at the door. The landlord showed up with the executor of the estate that actually owns the house we rent and handed us a notice giving us 3 days to get out. They were trying to claim that we were in breach of our lease because the gutters are falling off (which is the landlord's responsibility, not ours) and the back yard was a mess (because the landlord tossed stuff out of the shed into the yard to make room for themselves in the shed). They were also demanding entry to "inspect" the property despite the fact our lease clearly says they have to give 48 hours notice.
I told them exactly what our lawyer said to tell them, that we've retained legal counsel and they need to deal directly with them. I gave them the lawyer's name and phone number, then turned and walked back in the house, locking the door behind me.
I was so upset that I could not sleep so I got up and started researching. I quickly learned that their notice to vacate the premises was defective. Our state requires 30 days notice since we have a yearly lease. I also learned that they can't evict for breach of lease unless our lease specifically says they can for that reason. It doesn't. It says the only way they can evict is for non-payment of rent.
This morning I called Legal Aid as soon as the office opened. Unfortunately, our lawyer was scheduled to be in court all day. The receptionist did say that she would try to see if one of the other lawyers there would talk to me. She promised that someone would call me back before the end of the day.
So I waited and waited and waited some more. Finally our lawyer called. I explained the situation and we talked about various options, including the possibility of us staying for a few more months and then letting them buy us out of the remainder of the lease. He said he wanted to call the executor of the estate to discuss the matter. I gave my permission for him to do it and he said he'd call back before the end of the day.
An hour later, my phone rang. I was in the middle of cleaning (my own brand of therapy when I'm upset-on a good note, my house is almost spotless now) so it took me a minute to get it. The first thing the lawyer said was that he had some good news. Apparently when he called the executor, he was referred to his lawyer. They talked and the other lawyer found out that he had been misled by his client about the facts. Once he had all the facts, he realized that they had no standing to do what they were trying to do so he told them to drop it. Without the backing of their lawyer, they quickly caved.
We won! As long as we keep paying our rent, we can stay for the duration of our lease (another 2 years). And they're going to quit bothering us.
You can not imagine how great I felt after that phone call. I called Steve (he was at a neighbor's house) and told him all about it. I was still dancing around the house when he got home. We ended up throwing an impromptu barbecue to celebrate. It was wonderful to finally be able to relax and enjoy some great food, fun and conversation with family and friends.
We did end up having to clean up the mess that the landlord left. Our
lawyer said that while we didn't make the mess, a case could possibly be
made that we were responsible for it since we are renting the property
so he advised us to clean it up. We hauled off what was clearly trash
and tossed the rest of it back in the shed on their end. They can deal
with it when the lease is up. Steve also went ahead and fixed the
gutters rather than give them an excuse to come around again.
Even though we can stay for the rest of our lease, we probably won't. We're tired of dealing with these jerks and really want to buy a house of our own. Our lease has a provision allowing us to end the the lease early without penalty as long as we give two months notice so as soon as we find the right house and get our financing lined up, we're giving notice. But at least now we have time to look around and find the right house for us instead of settling for whatever we can get into before we get kicked out.
Thank you all for your comments, prayers and good thoughts sent our way. I probably would have been stark-raving crazy if not for your support.