The following was posted on the Roseburg Craigslist in response to a thread going on there about JLW properties that owns and operates rental housing in our community. CEA is interested in getting rid of bad landlords who prey upon the vulnerable. They do not benefit our community and are largely responsible for the slum housing that exists here, particularly in the downtown Roseburg area.
Unfortunately the problem is not just limited to JLW, but also include folks like the guy who runs the local Rodeway Inn on Stephens, which we will tell you about in another post, and others.
CEA would like to know about your landlord horror story to try to shed some light on what is happening in our community.
There are several reasons people like the guy who owns JLW properties are allowed to continue do business. The most important of which is the belief that renters are second-class citizens. The so called “property rights” of the owner trump almost any right the renter has.
Because of the second-class status, tenants have an uphill battle in getting anyone to believe them when there is a dispute with a landlord. This includes the courts. So the advice suggested by others about getting everything in writing is an absolute must to protect your interests, however that might not even be enough.
If you are going to rent, you also need to have a degree of understanding about the law and how it works. So here is some info about how the issue of holding a unit works.
1. If you give a deposit to “hold” an apartment, even one on Section 8, the landlord can charge you for each day he holds it for you. He can charge the daily rental amount and you will have to pay the full amount until you move in or the landlord does not have to agree to hold the unit for you. Now most decent landlords will not do this but legally any of them can.
If you back out of the deal, the landlord can charge you for the days that he held the unit for you. However he would not be legally entitled to the full amount of the $1000 (in the story stated earlier), unless of course that is what the days it was held add up to. On the other hand, if the landlord backs out of the deal, he is not entitled to keep any of it.
Now this is also contingent upon the unit being ready for occupancy during this entire time. Holding fees when a unit is not move-in ready are a no no. Also if for any reason the landlord backs out of the deal to accept the Section 8 voucher, he should not be able to keep any such deposit.
Although a landlord tenant relationship is based in contract law, there are special state laws for this contractual relationship. Some of these laws serve to protect the resident, but most of them still protect the landlord. Good news is if a landlord wants to participate in the Section 8 voucher program. There are more protections for tenants when it comes to bad landlords because there are federal laws that apply to the Section 8 program that don’t apply to other agreements between private landlords and tenants.
If a landlord violates the law or rules and regulations regarding the Section 8 voucher program, the landlord can be barred from being able to participate in the program, not just with that particular tenant but with all. So if you can prove that Mr. Walker actually did any of these, Citizens Education & Advocacy is more than willing to work to have him removed from being able to take Section 8 vouchers (certificates) at all. You can contact CEA through www.citizensnews.wordpress.com, or via Facebook.
I would caution folks about taking some of the info presented by others on craigslist as fact. Although some is being offered with good and helpful intentions, misinformation is not useful.
Fact: Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) (like HADCO here), have nothing to do with the enforcement of housing code violations (if there are any housing codes for rental housing in a local jurisdiction). PHAs only deal with their own publicly owned housing units and the Section 8 voucher (certificate) program. Their only influence on private landlords is when the landlord participates in the Section 8 program. These landlords must follow certain housing quality standards and other federal laws that govern the program. If a landlord does not comply with them, locally, HADCO must terminated assistance to the unit, and depending on the situation, terminate assistance to any of the units being subsided by them. A landlord can be barred from ever participating in the Section 8 program if their behavior warrants it.
One of the most useful pieces of information presented on this site before was the suggestion that joining together can make a difference. It is the only thing that will ever give tenants an equal status. If folks are interested in joining together to try to address the abuses outlined regarding JLW (or other bad landlords), CEA would be more than willing help facilitate that. It is kind of what our volunteers do.