A group of eleven tenants—most of whom are monolingual Amharic speakers—came to Legal Aid when their landlord sued them for eviction. The tenants were confused since the landlord first refused to accept their rent, then sued them for nonpayment. Once we looked into the matter, we found that our clients had been living—most of them for years—with serious and life-threatening Housing Code violations. The building lacked a heating
system, had not had smoke detectors for over a decade, and had serious, untreated pest infestations. Ultimately, our clients prevailed in a consolidated bench trial, with the judge finding that the landlord owed each client money for the months during which rent was paid in full but they were living with serious Housing Code violations, and that the landlord needed to make repairs. Thanks to Legal Aid’s representation, these eleven tenants were able to remain, more safely, in their affordable apartments.
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