I'm Suing My Negligent Landlord

If you’ve been following me on Twitter for the last two years in particular, then you know that I just can’t get no peace where my housing is concerned.

To elaborate, on November 01, 2020, the apartment I resided in burned down and I managed to escape with my sister and the clothes on my back. And with both of us having come from abusive families, we soon found ourselves homeless.

We caught a break in the third week of December 2020 and found an apartment. The landlord/management company at the time was sympathetic to our plights and approved us with no problem. And after that, I was sure that my housing woes would be put to bed for good.

But seeing as I’m writing this right now, it’s safe to assume that that is not the case.

The first year in our apartment (December 2020 – November 2021) was just so incredibly shitty because of a landlord that quite frankly acted as if he didn’t want to do any type of repairs or maintenance—even as it pertains to life-and-death appliances like a stove. In fact, it was his refusal to repair this aforementioned appliance in a timely manner (this went on for MONTHS; which was of great concern to me as a fire survivor) that forced us to raise the issue with the local housing authority. This would also not be the first or last time they dragged their feet in repairing an important appliance (they would repeat this action in November 2021 when they hesitated to repair our dishwasher. The dishwasher was not repaired until February 2022). In response, our lease was terminated (I’m sure you can guess why) and eviction proceedings commenced when we objected to the validity of this termination via a letter to the actual owner of the property. Mind you, the property had been kept clean, rent was NEVER late, and our neighbors loved us. And what’s more is that in my search to connect with the owner directly in hopes of resolving the issues, I came across other people who appeared to have gone through similar if not worse treatment at my landlord’s hands.

The second year in our apartment (December 2021 – 2022) was also very difficult, as most of it was spent fighting against a notice to vacate suit that I believe was filed out of spite. We found a good and honest attorney (God bless), but they were costly—as they tend to be. We spent months in and out of court, draining our savings to defend ourselves. The cherry on top of all this is that at one point, my landlord reached out at one point to notify us that the locks on the property would be changed. Next thing we know, two random men (that we’ve never seen *in person* before) show up claiming they were there to complete a *repair*, implying this was mere maintenance work and not anything having to do with changing the locks.

This is the kind of person we’ve been dealing with.

That said, the fates decided to smile on us (in the first half of 2022) when a judge sided with us, noting that the lease termination appeared retaliatory. We got about one moment to breathe before my landlord filed an appeal to continue threatening the stability of our housing. In the second half of the year. Indeed, the rest of 2022 was spent with him and his company dragging us back to court several times—some of the times including them not showing up. They finally dropped the case in the final quarter of 2022 when it became clear that we would not be bullied and when it became clear that we would be exercising our right to sue when the opportunity presented itself.

Still. I cannot even begin to explain to you how much time, money, and peace was sapped as a result of this man. I should have been able to properly rest and grieve after surviving a fire. Instead, for about six months after that, I spent my nights half awake out of fear that a stove that he seemed allergic to repairing would burst into flames. I should have been able to properly rest and grieve at being so violently displaced, but instead, I had to go invest in security cameras (which I hate, because it’s a violation of my privacy and threat to my safety as someone with a presence/platform), because I was concerned that they would try to forcefully evict me. I should have been able to properly rest and recover and enjoy the apartment I had managed to drag myself to in the aftermath. Instead, I spent 99.9% of my time here dealing with a place that was slowly falling apart.

This is why I am ready to sue him and his company.

He has treated my life like it is a game for two years. And I’m not about to let that slide.

In the meantime, I want to get the ball rolling. Finding a suitable attorney and filing the appropriate paperwork is included in this, as is finding new housing—away from this man. And doing so is going to require upwards of $10,000.

I know what you’re asking: what for? This is a great—and fair—question:

- 2500: Attorneys Fees
- 2000: Moving Costs
- 5000: New Housing/Deposit/First Months Rent/Application Fees
- 500: Storage Fees

I am aware that this is a big ask. Particularly in a time where the economy is beating each and every one of our asses in highly specific and personal ways. That said, I have no other choice but to turn to my community for help because I have already exhausted my resources in fighting this man the first go-around. And this is something I can’t do alone anymore.

P.S. Below, I have included:

- Pictures of the remains of my former apartment.
- The original lease termination letter.
- A letter to the owner of our apartment, questioning the validity of the original lease termination.

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Clarkisha Kent
Woodlawn, VA

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