By Chinh Le & Mike Mazella
Mr. Brown (name changed to maintain client confidentiality) and his wife came to the Big Chair office in Southeast D.C., because they had been sued as squatters by their landlord. A few weeks prior, they had received a favorable administrative decision resolving a tenant petition they filed against their landlord to contest an illegal rent increase. Rather than accept or appeal the administrative order, the landlord ignored it and sued Mr. Brown as a squatter in landlord-tenant court.
The case was based on the landlord’s claim that Mr. Brown, who had rented his current unit since 1994, was not a tenant of that unit, and was only permitted to reside in a studio unit that he had previously rented from 1986–1994. Legal Aid filed a motion to dismiss the landlord-tenant case. The pro se landlord decided that she needed to hire an attorney, which she did and shortly thereafter voluntarily dismissed the case before the hearing.
Mr. Brown had been struggling with complications from a stroke and has great difficulty communicating and getting around. Throughout the hearings, Mr. Brown’s attorney met him and his wife at the Big Chair office and at their home, so that Mr. Brown could avoid having to travel and cut down his transportation time to the court. What began as a mentally and potentially physically stressful problem for Mr. Brown and his wife ended happily as a result of Legal Aid’s help through our presence at the Big Chair.