Sunday, February 17, 2008

Truth. Justice. American Way. Part II.

Where were we? Right - your mother dies, you move her out of her apartment, then the landlord takes you to court, claiming that you must pay the rent due on the remainder of her lease. Subpoenas ensue. The hearing is held. You sit in the chair marked "Defendant" and listen to attorneys argue over the definition of "termination" and the vague wording of the "acceleration clause." And then it's over and you go home and wait to receive a copy of the judgment in the mail.

Yes, Virginia, sometimes there is justice: we won. Of course, Lafayette Towers Apartments has the right to appeal, and my lawyer tells me to expect that to happen, but in the short term we have defeated Goliath. Let me take a moment away from basking in the glow of victory to explain why I did this, why this is important.

Lafayette Towers is the only apartment building in this town that has an elevator and a front desk, and it's therefore an extremely popular place to live for women whose husbands have died and who have sold their suburban homes and who are getting older and who don't want to have to climb stairs. A good percentage of the population of the building is elderly women. When my mother's illness entered its last stage and we were going over things, she told me that the owners would go after the estate for rent, and that I should fight it if I could. So that's one reason I fought.

But I also did it for all the other women who live in that building, many of whom were my mother's friends. They all know about this practice of holding estates responsible for the duration of the lease, and none of them like it. Many of their children live out of town, though, and for years people have just been paying whatever they are told they owe and letting it go. If I could win, I'd be helping all those other tenants. My particular case was fought over principle more than money, because my mother only had three months left on the lease after she died. A victory for me means that every lease in that building can now be challenged, which explains why the building's owners spent more on their attorney than they could ever recover from me.

In honor of Presidents' Day, I'll close with the words of Abraham Lincoln, the greatest speech writer to ever be President:

It is better only sometimes to be right, than at all times to be wrong.


tunsie said...

congratultions.i love u soooooooo mother and father told me that if u hurt some one,god would hurt u 100 treat people as u wish to be treated.god help lafayette towers because they r going 2 b hurt 100 times.I'm sooooooooooooo proud of u.tunsie.tunsie.tunsie

Sandy said...

Congratulations! You Rock!

Just Asking said...

wwwwwooowww wwoooowww wwwoooww, that's my siren. SPELLING POLICE. PULL OVER MA'AM, B-A-R-N-A-B-A-S. I can't believe that Easton Girl didn't get after you about your title!! Otherwise Excellent!! Keep writing!

House of Crayons said...

I gotta say El, that even when I have no interest in your topic I love the way you write. So I end up reading and enjoying.

Way to kick Lafayette Towers between the legs. BTW I was interested in this topic.

Teach me to write like that, please...