Monday, June 18, 2012

Judge OKs Asset Attachment Against Alleged F'closed Home Hijacker For Renting Out House To Unwitting Family, Charging Pet Deposit For Service Animal

In Auburn, Maine, the Sun Journal reports:

  • A Turner family is suing a Leeds man claiming he rented them a house that he didn’t own. John Stetson and Melissa Rollins say they were seeking a rental in December for themselves and their children: two sons, ages 2 and 17, and a 19-year-old daughter. They answered an ad for a house for rent that was posted on the Craigslist website. They recently filed a complaint in Androscoggin County Superior Court against John Gray.

  • When the family called the phone number listed in the online ad, Gray answered. He showed the family a four-bedroom house at 64 Bean St. in Turner with a two-car garage during the two weeks following Christmas.

  • The family signed a one-year lease with Gray on Jan. 6, the complaint said. They paid Gray a security deposit of $500 and a $50 propane fee plus a pet deposit of $250, because their daughter, Brittany, needs a black Labrador service dog for her post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • At the time the family leased the house from Gray, it belonged to the MSHA. Before a scheduled June 6 eviction hearing, the family agreed to MSHA’s eviction judgment.
  • In a separate court proceeding shortly after the lawsuit was filed, the family was successful in securing an attachment of Gray’s property and other assets in the amount of $4,300 in the “reasonable likelihood” they would recover judgment against Gray and the Rebis Agency.

  • The family, represented by attorneys Maureen Boston and Matthew Dyer at Pine Tree Legal Assistance,(1) claim Gray falsely represented himself when he signed a lease with the family.

  • The family claims it suffered monetary and emotional damages due to what they said was Gray’s fraudulent misrepresentations. The family is seeking an award of punitive damages as well as attorney’s fees.

  • In addition, the family claims that state law bars landlords from charging tenants damage deposits for service animals.(2)

(1) Pine Tree Legal Assistance provides free legal help to Maine people with low incomes, and has offices in every part of the state, from Presque Isle to Portland.

(2) The inability to make the distinction between a service animal and a pet can become a very costly problem for landlords, homeowner associations, etc. See, for example:

No comments: