Staff Attorney Chris Freeman from Maryland Legal Aid’s Metropolitan Maryland office assisted a client with her Breach of Lease Case. The client, Ms. W., reported to her landlord that the grout and caulk in her bathroom was wearing down and needed to be fixed. Two weeks later, a plumber came to inspect the issue and recommended a $200 repair to the landlord. Ms. W.’s landlord
refused to make the repair. As a result, the unit below Ms. W.’s apartment was damaged when water began pooling inside the walls.
Two months later, Ms. W. sent a letter to her landlord notifying her that the outlets in her unit had begun sparking when appliances were plugged into them. Knowing that the landlord had a history of ignoring issues, Ms. W.’s letter also stated that if her landlord didn’t fix the issue, Ms. W. would call an inspector. One week later, the landlord filed for breach of lease alleging that Ms. W. had caused a water leak that damaged the building.
Chris represented Ms. W. during the trial, skillfully objecting to irrelevant evidence presented by the landlord. The Court sustained Chris’s objections. At the end of trial, Chris cited the eviction standard from Brown v. Housing Opportunities Commission and argued that even if it were accepted that Ms. W. somehow caused the water leak, the clear evidence of notice, and the suspicious timing of the landlord’s complaint, showed that the breach was not substantial and did not warrant eviction. The Judge agreed and dismissed the complaint, enabling the client to avoid being evicted. The landlord paid to have the damages repaired in both units.