Monthly Archives: September 2012

UPDATE: Even Newer Hope for Student Loan Borrowers Contemplating Bankruptcy

On the heels of this week’s discussion of the strategic potential of bankruptcy, even if a significant portion of debt is educational, comes a decision in the case In re Jeffrey Howell and Rebecca Howell, 11-12685, from the Bankruptcy Court in the Western District of New York.  Howell recognizes a peculiar difficulty for holders of student loans that I did not touch upon in my earlier post, namely, the difficulty debtors have in filing petitions under Chapter 7, rather than Chapter 13, when a significant portion of their debt is educational.  This is because a debtor with an income higher than the median income for his state, who nevertheless spends an inordinate percentage of his monthly income on the repayment of his student loans, has difficulty qualifying for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and is often forced to consider Chapter 13.

Chapter 13 is not without its advantages, which are beyond the scope of this discussion.  The disadvantage, for many debtors, is that Chapter 13 does not wipe the slate clean.  Debts are not completely discharged, but a percentage of debts are paid off over time, based on the debtor’s monthly disposable income.  Because, as previously discussed, student loans are generally not dischargeable in bankruptcy, whether in Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, a debtor who is forced to pursue a Chapter 13 plan will receive a stay of efforts by creditors to collect upon student loans during the Chapter 13 repayment period, but those loans will continue to accrue interest while the debtor is forgoing monthly student loan payments in favor of making payments on other debts under the Chapter 13 plan, often for a number of years.  The result, all too often, is that the debtor obtains some measure of relief for some of their debts, but ends up even further in debt on the educational loans, for which the debtor can obtain no meaningful relief through the bankruptcy system.

Offering a small ray of hope is Howell, courtesy of the Western District of New York’s Chief Bankruptcy Judge Carl Bucki.  Debtors whose monthly income is above the median, including those debtors who may have relatively high-paying employment offset by high monthly student loan payments, can defeat the presumption that a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing is abusive by demonstrating that their student loan payments are “special circumstances” siphoning off their monthly disposable income.

Chief Judge Bucki’s ruling does not accord with other rulings across the country, such as those in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Arizona, Kansas and New Hampshire, but follows an emerging trend started by bankruptcy courts in Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, Delaware, Oklahoma and Georgia.  The Howell ruling also is not binding upon other bankruptcy courts in New York.  However, until a contrary binding authority appears, there is reason to believe that Howell will benefit debtors with significant student loans who would otherwise not be eligible for Chapter 7 relief.  It certainly must factor into the strategy of bankruptcy lawyers counseling debtors whose income has not yet caught up to their educational debt.

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How Not to Lose Your Discharge Before it’s Even Granted

The decision to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection has become so momentous, so fraught with what-ifs and what-thens, that the general consensus is that it’s this act of filing that is the hard part.  The papers are filed, the automatic stay is imposed on creditors, the judge and trustee are assigned, the Section 341(a) meeting of creditors is scheduled, and the debtor breathes a sigh of relief.  What could possibly go wrong?

The actual discharge of a debtor from his debts in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceeding does not occur until, best case scenario, 60 days after the 341 meeting, which is a meeting at which the bankruptcy trustee and a debtor’s creditors can question the debtor, under oath, concerning the debtor’s assets and liabilities.  In clear-cut cases, where a debtor has a relatively small amount of consumer debt and no assets, the trustee should close the debtor’s 341 meeting and promptly file a Report of No Distribution with the bankruptcy court.  Then, at the expiration of the roughly 60-day period following the meeting, the debtor will receive a discharge and move ahead with the promised “fresh start.”

Often, however, the process hits a few road bumps along the way.  The United States Trustee requires each case trustee to examine certain financial records, including bank statements, credit card statements, tax returns, mortgage statements, insurance policies and other documents evidencing assets and/or liabilities, for debtors whose unsecured debt exceeds $100,000.  The trustee may seek these documents promptly, well before the 341 meeting, or only after meeting with the debtor.  While the trustee is investigating the debtor’s finances, he will generally hold the debtor’s 341 meeting open and ask the debtor to stipulate that the time for the trustee to object to the debtor’s discharge will be extended for a certain amount of time.  During that time, the court will not enter the debtor’s discharge.

This investigation has been a pitfall for more than a few debtors.  Trustees often request a standard list of documents from debtors, to be supplemented by additional documents tailored to each debtor’s situation.  For instance, if a debtor’s petition and schedules show an interest in a partnership, a trustee might ask for the partnership agreement.  If a debtor’s petition and schedules show that a debtor has income disproportionate to his assets, a trustee might seek documentation of his income.  All too often, debtors are not forthcoming with these documents.  Sometimes they are actively hiding assets, and don’t want to turn over evidence of their deception.  More often than not, they are simply poor record-keepers, which is part of why they’re in such dire financial straits to begin with.  Other times they simply do not have the time or energy to deal with the trustee’s requests, and stall hoping that the trustee won’t bother pursuing these documents.

This is ill advised, as all three of these scenarios can, and very often do, result in the denial of a debtor’s discharge.  Providing these and other documents to the trustee is an absolute requirement, and it is a valid basis for the trustee to commence an adversary proceeding objecting to a debtor’s discharge.  The same is true for the debtor actively hiding assets – if the trustee can show that the debtor lied under oath (whether in the petition or schedules, at the 341 meeting, in a hearing before the court or in a deposition or other discovery papers), the debtor will surely be denied his discharge.  Simply stating to the trustee that you don’t have the documents anymore, you threw them out, is not a defense to denial of discharge.  Debtors have an affirmative duty to keep and maintain all financial records, or obtain them from any accountant, bank, institution, school, agency or person who might have access to them.

Here’s where things can get very messy for the dishonest or lazy debtor.  If the judge decides to deny a debtor his discharge, none of the debtor’s debts will be discharged as part of that bankruptcy proceeding.  Furthermore, any debts the debtor attempted to discharge in that proceeding will never, ever be dischargeable, even in a future bankruptcy proceeding.  And, if the debtor has assets, they might still be liquidated to pay the debtor’s creditors, including the trustee and his attorneys, who expended a lot of money seeking documents from the debtor and litigating the objection to discharge action.  Sometimes it doesn’t even end there – for very egregious cases, the debtor may actually be prosecuted for bankruptcy crimes.

The moral of this story is that it ain’t over until the discharge is entered.  Simply filing a bankruptcy petition does not absolve you of your obligations, and in fact creates new ones, to the trustee and the court.  The petition and schedules are statements under oath.  Lying (or not being thorough) on these documents is perjury, and sometimes even fraud.

Attempting to hide assets from a trustee is not a good idea.  True, trustees have mountains of cases to review every month, but they each have systems in place to weed out potential fraud and asset cases.  One trustee in the Southern District of New York recently reviewed a case where the debtor disclosed that he was an “employee” of a company, but did not disclose that the company was actually registered to his home address.  His petition and schedules did not reflect any ownership interest in the company, but the trustee had to investigate.  As it turns out, the company is not profitable and it is not a valuable asset of the debtor’s estate.  However, because the debtor dragged his feet getting documentation concerning the company to his trustee, the trustee was forced to bring an objection to discharge action against the debtor.  In the end, the debtor produced sufficient documentation and was able to obtain his discharge, but not before his attorney and trustee and the court itself jumped through hoops of fire.  The judge had to set down a date certain for the debtor to comply with the trustee’s requests or else the judge would “seriously consider” a motion for a default judgment denying the debtor’s discharge – generally not something this judge would be willing to do.  That’s how close this debtor came to losing his discharge – and all over the (possibly inadvertent) omission of a worthless ownership interest in the bankruptcy petition and schedules.

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“Nondischargeable” student loans: if you can’t beat ’em . . . err, try again, and at least you can beat your other debts

In recent years, the old adage that nothing is certain in life, save death and taxes, has grown to include a third unavoidable certainty: student loans.  American students – including myself – have signed on the dotted line, many of us only days past our eighteenth birthdays, sentencing ourselves to at least a decade of educational debt controlling so many of our choices, from the choice of whether, where and when to attend graduate school, to whether and when to have children.  Most of us came into this debt with optimism and youthful exuberance.  When I took out my first educational loan, it was 1997.  I was using the money to attend a good college.  I had limitless potential and energy, and I believed that the economy would continue to be robust.  We all did.

Fast-forward 15 years, and though I indeed graduated, with honors, my first job was as a teacher in an expensive metropolitan area.  My next career move took me on a path that could prove lucrative, but my entry-level position was low-paying.  As the economy began its slow slide from those halcyon days of the ‘90s, my career path became less secure, and I made a decision that was generally regarded, at that time, as being one of the most prudent for long-term financial stability: I went to law school.  By the time I graduated in 2008, we were in a full-blown recession.

Unfortunately, a law degree just isn’t worth what it used to be.  Students in disciplines running the gamut from film theory to medicine are learning that a recession-proof degree is a myth.  Even more unfortunately, so many of us have paid dearly for those degrees, and will continue to pay disproportionate amounts of our monthly incomes toward repayment of our student loans, or else default.

While the Bankruptcy Code provides relief and a “fresh start” for debtors who owe just about any kind of debt, the debtor with educational loans who wishes to get out from underneath the crushing debt is usually out of luck.  Fearing that millions of students would borrow tuition money, earn their degrees and then immediately file for bankruptcy protection to get out of repaying those obligations spurred Congress to enact legislation barring all but the most unfortunate debtors, those with a verifiable “undue hardship,” from discharge of their student loans.  Congress never defined what “undue hardship” means, but here in the Second Circuit (New York, Connecticut and Vermont), debtors wishing to discharge their student loans must meet the stringent Brunner Test, named after the landmark case Brunner v. New York State Higher Education Services Corp., 831 F. 2d 395 (2d Cir. 1987).

In Brunner, the court adopted a three-pronged standard debtors must meet for discharge of their student loans.  First, a debtor must show that, if the debtor is forced to repay her student loans at her current level of income and expenses, she will be unable to maintain even a minimal standard of living for herself and her dependents, consisting of little more than food, shelter and medical insurance.  Second, the debtor must show that these circumstances are permanent, or at least likely to persist for a “significant portion” of the remaining repayment period.  Third, the debtor must show that she has made good faith efforts to repay the loans.

Generally, the Brunner test has been applied very strictly.  Here in the Southern District of New York, in the case Bacote v. Educational Credit Management Corporation, 2006 WL. 3732993 (Bankr. S.D.N.Y. 2006), the recently-retired Chief Bankruptcy Judge Arthur J. Gonzalez denied the discharge of the student loans of a 56-year-old unemployed debtor caring for her elderly, disabled husband because her employment options, though decidedly limited, were not completely foreclosed, and because her spotty repayment history did not sufficiently demonstrate good faith.  In a more recent Second Circuit case, this one coming from the District of Connecticut, In re Traversa, 2011 WL 5110214 (2d Cir. 2011), a debtor who had been unemployed since 2004, suffered from mental illnesses and sleep disorders and received monthly social security disability income of only $1,500 was denied the discharge of his student loans when he could not show that his condition was “likely to persist for a significant portion of the repayment period.”  This had led many in the legal profession to theorize, only partly in jest, that you could be a blind quadriplegic living in a box in Central Park with no income of any kind, and you will still never be out from under your student loans.  Theoretically, unless you are dead or in a persistent vegetative state (and even then, some still maintain hope!) there is still a chance you can be cured, no matter how unlikely.  Oh, and you could also win the lottery.  That might happen, too.

Not surprisingly, the onerous burden placed on would-be dischargers of student loan debt has dissuaded even the most economically disadvantaged from even attempting to obtain a ruling of undue hardship.  According to a recent New York Times article, fewer than 1,000 debtors across the country even attempt to bring undue hardship adversary proceedings as part of their bankruptcy cases.  That’s a very small subsection of the tens of millions of Americans currently struggling to repay their student loans.  However, some researchers at Emory University School of Law recently crunched the numbers, and determined that 57% of debtors who initiated adversary proceedings to discharge their student loans were able to get at least a portion of such loans discharged.  Another researcher from Princeton found that 39% of debtors receive at least partial discharges of student loans.  Perhaps these numbers are skewed, in that only debtors in the most dire of circumstances even attempt to obtain discharge of their student loan debts.  Yet, these figures do offer at least a small ray of hope in an otherwise defeatist and pessimistic area of bankruptcy law.

Even if a discharge, or partial discharge, of student loan debts is not ultimately possible, debtors who are struggling to repay educational as well as consumer debts should still consider bankruptcy as an option.  If a debtor is burdened with monthly debt repayment of, say, $2,000, representing $500 in student loan payments and $1,500 in credit card and other consumer debt, freeing up monthly disposable income to pay down the educational debt, without the crushing burden of the other debt, could be enough to get that debtor’s head back above water.  Just because bankruptcy may not eliminate the full extent of the debt in order to give the debtor a complete “fresh start,” it may still offer enough relief to give the debtor a “fresher start,” and may still be a viable option for those with educational debts.

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Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way: Why Your Way Might not be the Best Way

“Why do I need a lawyer?”

I often get asked this question because much of a lawyer’s work is deceptively simple.  For instance, a bankruptcy petition looks pretty straightforward:  you fill in your name and essential information, make a list of your assets and liabilities, sign it and file it.  Boom.  You’re done.  Then, several months down the line, you find out that the bankruptcy petition is a sworn statement under oath, and the seemingly insignificant omission of a source of income from the Statement of Financial Affairs is perjury, and you’re not only being denied your bankruptcy discharge, but you’ve also possibly committed a crime.  Oops.  Boom.  Now you’re really done.

The same is true with many other legal matters that seem simple and straightforward, but can result in harsh consequences for seemingly trivial mistakes.  Nowhere in the law is this more true than in the drafting and execution of wills.  The internet is full of will templates purporting to give you all the legalese you need to plan your estate.  It seems like a great idea, because it will save you a few hundred bucks for you to do it yourself.  Who needs a lawyer?

One of the organizing principles of American jurisprudence is that property owners have the nearly unrestricted right to dispose of that property as they see fit.  The law, when it’s working, curtails this freedom of disposition only to the extent that a person attempts to make a distribution to another person that may be prohibited or restricted – say, because the distribution is promoting illegal activity, infringes upon spousal or creditor rights, or otherwise runs afoul of the law.

Writing the will itself can be fraught with danger for people who choose to go it alone without help from a legal professional.  A will-writer who sets out to disinherit his entire family (wife and children) in order to leave his entire estate to his mistress and charity would be disappointed to learn that, after his death, the probate court invalidated his will, and gave his sizable fortune to the spouse that he could not disinherit completely and the children he could, but didn’t, because he did not consult an attorney to craft an estate plan that would come as close as possible to his intentions without violating the law.

One of the biggest pitfalls for those who write their own estate plans is the will execution ceremony.  In New York, the formalities of the will execution ceremony are particularly ritualistic, serving several functions: (1) to ensure consistency, and predictable results, in the inter-generational distribution of wealth; (2) to ensure that sufficient evidence of a person’s intentions is preserved in order to prove his intentions to the probate court after his death; (3) to ease the determination of a person’s wishes at death by channeling those wishes into a will with standardized formalities; and (4) to safeguard a testator (person making the will) against any undue influence or fraud at the time of the will execution.  In serving these functions, even tiny mistakes can be costly.

A lawyer can help guide you through these rituals in a way that a template or book on will drafting can’t.  The pages of a will must be fastened together in a particular way.  The testator must actually read and understand the will and its contents in the presence of witnesses, who must be disinterested (a legal term of art).  If anyone enters or leaves the room in the middle of the will execution, it might affect the validity of the resulting will.  The testator must answer certain questions, and sign the will in particular places and particular times.

Many testators who choose to draw up their own estate plans also omit one very important document which competent lawyers generally annex to a will:  the self-proving affidavit.  A will may be valid without one, but if a will contains this affidavit, it makes it much easier to probate the will.  Hopefully, testators execute wills when they still have a lot of life left to live.  Their witnesses may not be so lucky.  If there is no self-proving affidavit, and witnesses pre-decease the testator, or even just move away, it is much more difficult to successfully probate the will, because the witnesses are unavailable to testify that the will was properly executed.

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Navigating the CSE System: Like David to the DOE’s Goliath, Part One

Time for a change of pace, and an area of the law near and dear to my heart: special education advocacy.  With the start of each school year, countless children struggle to overcome various obstacles to scholastic success.  Some receive the assistance and tools they need to succeed; many, however, do not.  Sadly, the majority of the parents and guardians of students whose needs are not being met do not fully understand their families’ rights, nor do they realize the tools available to them.

All students in this country are guaranteed a “free appropriate public education” (FAPE).  This means that any student in need of special education or other services must be provided necessary instruction, services and modifications, at public expense, according to established standards, and conforming to each student’s Individualized Educational Program (IEP).

The FAPE process may begin long before a child enters kindergarten.  Infants or toddlers identified as having developmental delays may receive services in New York City through the Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE), but may no longer require services when they are school-age.  Then again, the need for services and individualized instruction may be just as apparent during the school years as it was during the preschool years.  Children who received services and interventions from the CPSE will, upon entering kindergarten, be referred to the Committee on Special Education (CSE) to determine if further services and interventions are needed.  Other students, who may have entered school without previously receiving services of any kind, may be referred to the CSE at any time if it appears that the child may need services, modifications or interventions.

Once referred to the CSE, the student begins an evaluation process, including medical, behavioral and other examinations designed to shed light on that student’s particular academic and social needs.  The CSE will also gather reports and observations from past teachers and other professionals who have worked with the child in order to fully evaluate that child’s progress.

When the system works, the tools students need to succeed are identified, and parents, teachers and other professionals successfully implement them.  More often than not, however, the system is not a well-oiled machine, and needs some coaxing along.  Even students who are properly referred and evaluated may face an unsympathetic CSE, not receive a proper classification and be denied crucial services.  In such cases, parents can be frustrated, unheard and marginalized, the students suffer, and some well-timed, focused advocacy work can bring about desired results.  In blog posts to follow, we will discuss some of the ways New York City students can fall through the cracks, and what options are available to parents.

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Welcome to the Neighborhood: Part Three

After the record temperatures set in NYC this summer, the last thing many new tenants might be thinking about is a landlord’s duty to maintain heat in their apartments.  They might rather have the heat permanently shut off – or perhaps they’re currently petitioning for better access to air conditioning!

However, with Labor Day’s unofficial end to summer came a barely perceptible change in the air, just enough to remind all of us that the Summer of 2012 is on its way out, and fall is on its way in, with cooler temperatures.  The comfortable warmth of early September will give way to the long sleeves of early October and the fleece jackets of early November until, eventually, the first snow hits all of us like a ton of bricks.  Is last winter any indication?  Dare we hope that we can effectively miss two winters in a row?  Or will this winter sock the city like none other in retaliation?

Assuming that this winter will, at the very least, bring with it “normal” temperatures of between 25-50˚, it’s likely to get a bit chilly, especially in some of the older buildings in the city.  Since, as we previously discussed, insufficient heat is a breach of the warranty of habitability, landlords are required to provide heat to tenants during the colder months, specifically October 1 to May 31.  But just what does that mean?

Let’s take a look at a hypothetical.  A tenant has just moved to NYC from Miami.  She is not accustomed to long sleeves, and doesn’t care to be.  She likes her apartment maintained at a balmy 80˚ at all times, which she makes clear to her landlord upon signing the lease for an apartment in the city.

All is well until the tenant returns from Miami after Thanksgiving, when a cold snap hits the city with temperatures in the mid-30’s.  She is furious to find that her apartment temperature is a mere 70˚ when she gets in from the airport at 8:00 p.m.  What recourse does our tenant have?

Unfortunately, while New York City law requires landlords to provide “sufficient” heat in order for residences to be deemed “habitable,” this is not a subjective standard.  Tenants are not entitled to have heat maintained at whatever temperature they find most comfortable for them.  Between October 1 and May 31, between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m., if the outside temperature falls below 55˚, every dwelling unit must be heated to a minimum temperature of 68˚; between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., if the outside temperature falls below 40˚, every dwelling unit must be heated to a minimum temperature of 55˚.  So, under these circumstances, 70˚ at 8:00 p.m., the landlord has provided adequate heat, and the tenant’s only recourse is to wear a sweater or buy a space heater (at her own expense), provided that this is not otherwise prohibited by law, regulation or contract.

Let’s say, however, that the tenant spends Christmas in Miami, and when she returns to her apartment from the airport at 11:00 p.m., the outside temperature is 30˚, and the temperature inside the apartment is 50˚.  What should the tenant do now?

In this case, the landlord is not supplying sufficient heat to the tenant’s apartment.  The first step is for the tenant to call the landlord and demand heat.  Even though it’s the holiday season, even though it’s late at night – CALL THE LANDLORD.  If the landlord does not respond promptly (say, within 2-3 hours), and the lack of heat is causing significant discomfort, then call 311 to speak with someone in the Citizen Service Center and to lodge a complaint.  Bureaucracy being a lumbering beast, it may take a while for the City to file a violation against the landlord, and longer still for the City to deem it necessary to procure emergency repair services from a private vendor.  In the meantime, if heat is not restored and the situation is profoundly uncomfortable or dangerous for the tenant, other remedies, such as an emergency court order, may need to be explored.

In the next part in this series, we’ll take another look at what happens when a unit needs repairs, and the landlord’s conduct leaves much to be desired.

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Welcome to the Neighborhood: Part Two

So, picking up from where we left off – let’s say the joint landlord-tenant inspection revealed that a closet door did not fully close.  The tenant took date-stamped pictures of the defect, so it’s clear that this was a pre-existing defect, and not caused by the tenant.  The landlord promised to fix the problem before the tenant moved in, but when moving day rolled around, the tenant noticed that the closet door was still broken.  What happens next?

Like most new tenants, this hypothetical tenant noticed the problem, but was too busy unpacking boxes and starting up utilities to deal with the broken closet door.  The closet also was likely not a top priority for the tenant because, while a non-closing closet door is an annoyance, it’s probably not a threat to the tenant’s health or safety.  In real estate parlance, we would say that the closet door defect is not a breach of the warranty of habitability, which is a guarantee provided for by New York state law (even if it’s not written into a lease) requiring that every landlord maintain every residential premises in a safe and habitable condition.  This is actually not a particularly high bar: it simply means that every residential unit must be maintained at a level safe for humans to live there, no more, no less.  Sufficient heat and proper sanitation fall under the warranty of habitability; minor structural problems, like a broken closet door, do not.

However, the tenant in this situation is not completely without recourse.  Landlords do have an obligation to repair known defects, and since the closet door defect was revealed by an inspection, and the landlord was clearly aware of the problem and promised to fix it, the landlord would be expected to repair the closet door.  (This is why the move-in inspection, even if it is performed after the lease is signed, is so important!)  In this case, the landlord promised to fix the closet door before the tenant moved in.  This didn’t happen.  First and foremost, the tenant should call the landlord and remind him to fix the closet door.  Hopefully, the landlord will promptly fix it, or make arrangements for someone else to fix it, and that will be that.  Occasionally, however, more effort will be required to get the desired result.

If the landlord doesn’t respond in a reasonable amount of time (say, three to five days) after you call the landlord to request the repair, the next step is to send a letter.  This should be a relatively formal business letter, stating that x repairs were promised on y date, the repairs were not made on time, the tenant called the landlord on z date, and the landlord has still failed to make the repairs.  The letter can still be conversational and friendly in tone, however, as the goal is to coax action out of the landlord, not to alienate him and damage the landlord-tenant relationship.  It is best to send the letter via certified mail, return receipt requested, even if the landlord lives in the same building.  This is so that you have proof that you sent the letter to the landlord, and the landlord received it, should such proof ever be necessary down the road.

If the landlord still does not respond, you need to decide what the closet door repair is really worth to you.  Will it impact your life in a major way if the closet door does not close all the way?  Will this be a hardship for you, your family or your guests?  Since it is a relatively minor repair, it likely is not worth reporting your landlord to local agencies, or engaging in litigation, unless this defect really will cause you a genuine, significant hardship.  You can always ask if the landlord would rather have you arrange for someone else to make the repair instead, and then deduct the cost from your rent, but you must be careful: this sort of arrangement seems to attract litigation.  What you consider to be a reasonable cost for the repair may not comport with your landlord’s view, and when you try to deduct the full cost of the repair from your rent the next month, you could be inviting a world of trouble for months to come.  I would say it’s generally a good rule of thumb not to go out of pocket on repairs expecting reimbursement if you have any other alternative.  If you decide that the effort to force the landlord to repair the closet door outweighs any potential benefit of taking further action, at least you documented your efforts to get the repair made, which will be important at the end of the tenancy in case the landlord attempts to deduct money from your security deposit to repair the door.

In our next installment, we will explore a situation in which a serious defect develops after the inspection, and the steps necessary to resolve such a situation.

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