Posted 27 February 2014 - 06:40 PM
For about 10 years I have worked as an 'independent contractor' for a local business owner, "The Old Man".
In May of 2013 he offered to rent me an apartment that he was building on his 200 acre farmland property. Week after week I watched the gutting of the old single-family residence and the rebuilding of two brand new 2-bedroom apartments--floors, walls, windows, wiring, appliances--everything--brand new. It was exciting. I moved from the city to the country and had a zero-commute to work.
I told him I wanted to bring in two roommates that I had lived with for many years. He said, "I don't care who you live with as long as there's no pets".
My move-in date was August 1. I lived there alone until November 1st when I brought in roommate #1, "Shirley". Roomate #2 "Cindy" moved in early December.
When I paid December's rent at the end of November, The Old Man was visibly upset about something. He blurted out, "I built those apartments with NO PERMITS! and I don't want any trouble with the Township. I already paid them $3,000 and I don't want to have to go to court with them. I told them there's only one person in each apartment. So first thing, I need you to their names off the mailbox in case they drive by because I don't want them to think I'm a liar! So you tell those girls to pack their bags and be ready to move out on a moments notice! "
Upon checking with the township, a 'Permit Activity' search was done on my residential address and The Old Man's neighboring business address. There had been no permit activity at either address for well over five years. I also found a curled up and hard to see STOP WORK LEGAL NOTICE on a lower level.
Of course I paid January's rent. At the beginning of February he posted a 30 Day Order to Vacate. I spoke with my lawyer and he made it clear that as far as landlord/tenant and lease/contract disputes, I have nothing going for me but to move out.
However, I feel I am victim of an intentional tort. I have lost time from work and considerable moving expenses to get here, bought furniture, etc. I'm losing my roommates, who provide a significant economic and emotional benefit to me. Now they are moving out in dread of being homeless. And just seven months after moving in I'm faced with that daunting prospect of moving once again.
He arrogantly decided to build without permits to save a few bucks. Actually not even to save the money. He has plenty of money. He's just an 'old school' guy who thinks he can do everything his own way. He hired a few 'shade-tree' contractors with no signage on their van. They installed electric meters, paving, plumbing, a deck and everything else. And lots of expansion, electrical, paving & remodeling to his offices and garages. No permits.
One more complication: This guy has been my sole source of income for the past 10 years. He is trying to starve me out--he has given me no work since mid-December. Luckily I had some savings and caring roommates. But that is all gone now and I am struggling.
Please tell me where do I go from here?
I know this is a long read, but I kept it as brief as possible.
Posted 27 February 2014 - 09:08 PM
Disclaimer - This article may simply be an exercise in creative writing and may or may not refer to actual or fictitious persons, living or dead or actual locations or events.
I don't think anybody is going to engage you in discussion with that disclaimer at the bottom of your post. I certainly won't.
Other than to say that, since you have a lawyer, ask your lawyer if there's anything to your "tort" theory.
Warning: Legal issues are complicated. Explanations and comments here are simplified and might not fully explain the ramifications of your particular issue. I am not a lawyer. I do not give legal advice. I make comments based on my knowledge and experience. I guarantee nothing. If you act on my comments without the advice of an attorney, you do so at your own risk.
Posted 28 February 2014 - 10:50 AM
We cannot know what your contract with the landlord says from here -- or what deal you have with these roommates who may be in fact your tenants -- but I get the impression you had a monthly tenancy at will. You'd surely mention if you entered into a lease that said you had the place at least until X so long as you paid Y rent.
I'm not clear on how "only one person in each apartment" claim keeps him out of trouble for building with a lack of permits.
"I spoke with my lawyer and he made it clear that as far as landlord/tenant and lease/contract disputes, I have nothing going for me but to move out."
Well, there are always other choices. If you have a monthly tenancy at will, however, he only needs to give you the 30-day notice and can file an eviction action if you refuse to leave by the time that's up. We cannot know if he'll do that.
"However, I feel I am victim of an intentional tort."
Sorry, I don't see that argument at all. It's silly to talk about buying furniture as a damage, and unless you entered into a long-term lease contract with him, you never had any right to expect living there beyond a given month or so.
"Now they are moving out in dread of being homeless. "
They don't have to worry about being "homeless", and they can take their time moving out. If they pay rent to you, you are their landlord. He can, however, if he files an eviction action against you, include them as named parties.
"And just seven months after moving in I'm faced with that daunting prospect of moving once again. "
(cue violins) Seriously? See prior remark about how you never had any right to expect to live there long-term if you didn't ensure you had a long-term lease.
"But that is all gone now and I am struggling."
It's not his problem if you can't find other work.
"Please tell me where do I go from here?"
You aren't making your question very clear, and you shouldn't ask strangers to tell you what to do. You're free to see whether he files an eviction action against you if you don't move out by the end of X. He may well not. If he turns off utilities or interferes with tenancy until a court weighs in, feel free to file an emergency petition with relevant landlord-tenant court.
I'd also feel free to look into whether you are in fact an "independent contractor". The fact that you put this in quotes means you may understand you weren't.
I'll echo PG's advisory "warning" with a twist: (Many) legal issues are complicated. Explanations and comments here might not fully identify or explain the ramifications of your particular problem. I do not give legal advice as such (and such is impermissible here at any rate). Comments are content based on personal knowledge and experience and legal info gleaned over a quarter century, and every state has differing laws on and avenues to address most topics. If you need legal advice, you need to consult (and pay) a professional so that you may have someone to hold accountable. Acting on personal and informational advice from a stranger on the internet is a bad idea -- at least not without your own thorough due dilience/research and confirmation as it applies to your situation.
Posted 28 February 2014 - 11:16 AM
Thank you for your considered reply. Would you consider this a tort case, given the facts that the owner of the property:
intentionally began and completed major residential construction without applying or obtaining required permits from the Township
solicited and induced me to move into the rental property under fraudulent presentation of implied warranty of habitability
and as direct consequence of landlord's I am being forced to vacate
I incurred approximately $2500 in moving expenses and another $1000 in lost time from work in order to get here and I expect to spend the same amount to find and move into another place.
No lease? He's not a paperwork kind of guy, as one might gather from the fact that he did major construction without permits.
although I had no lease, there was an understanding among us and his family and his workers that this would be a permanent move for me.
Violins? Keep 'em playing! I'm 65 years old and enjoy all kinds of music.
I also enjoy sarcasm but I'm looking for legal recourse, not sympathy. I believe I have been wronged and have incurred significant loss as a result.
"only one person in each apartment" claim? It may have to do with minimizing water usage and drainage since we're using well water and probably not connected to a township system.
Posted 28 February 2014 - 11:27 AM
I've already given my personal opinion about the notion of intentional tort.
There's no need to re-state the alleged facts in bullet point.
Your place has not been declared uninhabitable, and it isn't as though the township is forcing you to leave in the middle of a long-term lease.
You aren't "forced to vacate" and, one more (damn) time, you never had security in that place beyond any given 30 days.
If you paid someone $2500 to move a single-person's stuff, you grossly over paid and, (another damn time), you had no interest in the place beyond a given 30 days.
You were free to insist on a long-term lease and give him one, and let him choose to decide whether he wanted to enter into a long-term lease.
There is no such thing as "permanent" in a lease situation (outside certain situations in, for instance, NYC). The dude could have sold the property any day, for instance, and the new owner want you out.
I'll echo PG's advisory "warning" with a twist: (Many) legal issues are complicated. Explanations and comments here might not fully identify or explain the ramifications of your particular problem. I do not give legal advice as such (and such is impermissible here at any rate). Comments are based on personal knowledge and experience and legal info gleaned over a quarter century, and every state has differing laws on and avenues to address most topics. If you need legal advice, you need to consult (and pay) a professional so that you may have someone to hold accountable. Acting on personal and informational advice from a stranger on the internet is a bad idea -- at least not without your own thorough due dilience/research and confirmation as it applies to your situation.
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