Bed Bugs Bite in Landlord-Tenant Dispute

Bed bug, by Wikipedia user Piotr Naskrecki, licensed by Creative Commons

Once bitten, twice shy

Inattentive landlords and hotel owners: consider this a warning. Those tiny bugs that congregate around your sleeping quarters can become more than just a pain in your hind quarters. After the well-publicized infestations that occurred in the Big Apple and several other large cities across the United States, people and the civil court system have become far more cognizant of these pesky nuisances. In one of the more eye-opening verdicts, an Annapolis woman was awarded a windfall settlement of $800,000. The jury who heard the case was clearly intending to send a not-so-subtle message to negligent property owners.

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Renters Win $500,000 Settlement Against Landlord’s Scam

An apartment building in Paris, by Flickr user Steve Cadman, licensed via Creative CommonsA landlord in Baltimore made quite a profit by faking property damage and suing his former renters for restitution.  That is, until Hong Park, a nonprofit legal aide looking into the matter for one of the renters, found the landlord’s claims to be a little fishy.  The landlord had provided supposed invoices from contractors detailing repairs to the property.  Park noted some suspicions about the invoices though — namely, that they didn’t have any company logos and that they were dated when collections began, not when the renter moved out.  The lawyer called up some of the referenced contractors and, lo and behold, all of the invoices were forged by the landlord.  Park sent the info on to the Maryland Attorney General’s office, and some subpoenas and a class-action lawsuit later, the owner of Ager Road Station Apartments will pay a $500,000 settlement to the former renters he swindled.  For anyone who’s dealt with a less-than-honorable landlord in the past, this settlement is a welcome victory.

Keep reading for tips on how to protect yourself from this kind of scam