We recently had the most interesting case come through our office. A tenant rented a house, and about a week later the landlord, owner of the house, simply moved into the free-standing guest house on the property. This was not part of the lease, was never discussed by the landlord and tenant before the contract was signed, and the tenant was given no notice before the landlord moved in.
After the landlord moved in, he arranged for the electricity, water, and other utilities which the tenant was paying for to cover his own living area as well. He also took possession of a storage out-building on the property and he continuously breached the tenant’s fence around the pool to use it himself.
Amazingly, the tenant put up with this for several months before he called us. We wrote a cease and desist letter to the landlord ordering him to move off the property, and we also prepared a notice demanding repairs which the tenant had previously asked for verbally. The landlord’s response was to serve the tenant with a 30-day termination of tenancy notice.
This was great news for the tenant. It allowed us to prepare counterclaims for multiple counts of abuse of access, retaliation, and other claims. But the most interesting piece of the case was that the tenant was actually suing the landlord for eviction! As you might imagine, this is not something we see every day.
After the tenant filed the counterclaims the landlord voluntarily dismissed his termination action, and the court, instead of hearing the counterclaims as it was required to do by law, went ahead and dismissed them as well. The dismissal was done without prejudice, which means the tenant has the option of re-filing in civil court. But in the meantime, the landlord must have gotten legal advice (even though he proceeded in court pro se) because as quickly as he moved into the property he moved out of it. We will keep you apprised in future posts of any additional outcomes in this matter.