Help! I just got served with eviction papers. What do I do?
First, take a deep breath and relax. This is a long process and you are at the beginning of it. Nobody is showing up at your doorstep to kick you out in the foreseeable future. (If that happens, call 911 and call us immediately. You are entitled to triple damages for an illegal lockout.)
If you are being sued for nonpayment of rent, you must go to the clerk’s office to submit your answer and you’ll get a court date then. Off the record, don’t worry if you’re not exactly within the 5 days. Nobody is that on top of things and it takes a while for a landlord to get a default judgment. If you’re sued for any other reason, it’s called a “holdover”, and your court papers will have the first court date on them.
Nobody is ever actually ready to do anything on the very first court date. You can go in by yourself and request an adjournment (postponement) to get an attorney and you should have no problem getting it.
When you get to the courtroom, there’s a list outside of all the cases; look for the red number next to your case and go inside and give that number to the court officer. You’ll then wait for the landlord’s attorney who will want to speak to you in the hallway. Don’t feel obligated to talk with him or her, especially if s/he is being a jerk. Just say “I want to conference with the court attorney” and you can pick a date that way.
The vast majority of people find it is well worth their while to at least consult with an attorney before proceeding, if not hiring one. There are a lot of technical defenses, strategy points, insights about judges, and other helpful information that we tenant attorneys can offer you, even if you intend to represent yourself going forward. Sometimes I tell tenants “you absolutely need an attorney”, but there are plenty of times where people come in for a consultation, I give them a road map, and they feel well equipped to move forward at that point.
If you’re in doubt, just give us a call.
I’m pregnant and I don’t know even know where to begin when it comes to navigating workplace issues.
First of all, congratulations! For me, becoming a parent was one of the most thrilling, exciting, perspective-growing experiences I could imagine. Recognizing my responsibilities to model the behaviors I want to teach my daughters to emulate, teaching them to be generous and kind, trying to inculcate them with self-esteem, and teaching them literally everything else they need to know, often feels like an infinite task.
One of the most important things to me as a parent is enabling my daughters to take control of their destinies and to truly accept their responsibilities as captains of their own ships. This meant standing up for myself and for my rights at work. As women, we’ve spent your entire life being told to quiet down, to take up less space, to be nicer, to be more deferential. Maybe you’ve successfully resisted those messages, to some degree. Maybe you’re already a ball buster with a spine of steel.
But when you become a parent, especially a mom, all of a sudden, the whole world is trying to force a new identity on you. Suddenly, it’s all cutesy, “mommy” stuff, like “tee hee mommy’s night out!” instead of “having a regular drink like an effing adult”. With my clients especially, their fight is in the workplace, it’s even more important – fighting to preserve your identity as strong, smart professional, who is capable and worthy of respect, is a matter of survival. For me, this meant proving that I could still be a great, aggressive litigator, while meeting my client’s needs for empathy and communication; not some sassy ball-busting cartoon holding a baby bottle in one hand and a briefcase in another.
For me personally, when my employer tried to screw me out of my agreed upon maternity leave, it was a defining moment. I had the job security and wherewithal to tell them to screw off. But I know that not everybody does. That’s why I decided to start this firm helping other women prepare with how to deal with that scenario and empowering people who are going through possibly their most important life change to say “go screw yourself” to anyone who would belittle them, disparage them, or otherwise try to cheat them out of the time and money that they and their new children deserve.
The law does provide some protections. Check out our pregnancy rights primer for an overview of the legal landscape. Ultimately, if your employer does majorly screw you, I am here to teach them a lesson. But I know from (a lot of) experience that it is generally in your best interest if you can avoid having to litigate. That’s why I devote a lot of my time to discussing negotiation strategies. Click here for more information about Crumiller PC’ Negotiation Coaching services.
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My landlord is keeping my security deposit as compensation. What should I do?