I have surgery on May 11th – two weeks from yesterday. So much to do before then. I have the usual stuff I have to do before surgery (bloodwork, EKG, chest x-ray and echocardiogram). And, then I have some unusual stuff – the most unusual is that I have to prevent myself from being evicted from my apartment.
My landlord gave me an eviction notice – no reason stated, just that I have to move out – nice, huh? I am not behind on rent. However, I was given notice just a week after the City informed him of a code violation. I had been trying to work out a solution with my landlord for nearly two months, but, he refused to make necessary repairs. He installed – without a permit – an exhaust for a dryer that runs right through my patio – adjacent to my doorway and below my bedroom window. The dryer fumes come right into my unit and make me really sick.
I have had to stay with friends and have even stayed in a hotel to escape the fumes while my landlord slugs along with claims that he is fixing it, has fixed, and finally that he can’t fix it. Once he told me that he was not going to fix it, I called the City. The City came out, found that it was in violation of their code and told the landlord that he had to repair it or tear it out. One week after the City told him this, he evicted me.
There are laws against this kind of thing. It is called a retaliatory eviction – when a tenant avails themselves of a legal right (like calling the health department or, in my case, code enforcement) and is then evicted as a punishment. Anyway, there are laws against this sort of thing.
I can not possibly move two weeks before surgery and I will not be able to move after surgery until I am well enough to make the move.
In the interim, the dryer has been shut down by the City, so no more fumes, fortunately. However, my landlord has a for rent sign in my front yard and expects to show my apartment to prospective tenants – all of this while I am about to have surgery – and presumably while I am recovering from surgery.
To say the least, I am quite distressed by this situation. As much as I know that he can not do this, he is doing it. And, by the way, he is aware that I am having surgery, is aware of my medical diagnosis, knows I have been going through cancer treatment. Let’s just say, he is a real prince.
Fortunately I have lawyer friends – one in particular, who is taking this on for me. But, still, I have to do a lot of leg work, get a hold of documents from the city, write letters, put together a time line for my lawyer, and be available to discuss the whole situation.
It is very time consuming and rattling. My brain just does not work the way that it used to, especially under stress. It takes me longer to do things and it takes a lot more effort to write in a cohesive and logical manner than ever before. Some of the most routine things elude me these days. I know it is temporary – at least I hope so
But, until it gets better, these things are kind of debilitating. Or, at least more debilitating than it would normally be. It underscores for me how far I have not come . . . don’t get me wrong . . . I have come a long way. And, I am grateful. But, I also know my limitations and they are still fairly prominent.
It is just a headache I do not need, but, who ever needs a headache, right?
I would just rather focus on my health than putting energy into this stuff. But, as my lawyer says, this landlord needs some schooling. Mostly, I just need to be left alone. If I could move before surgery, I would. But, it is not feasible – not physically or financially.
My lawyer is planning on filing an injunction to prevent the landlord from evicting me and to prevent him from filing an unlawful detainer action against me (that would be bad as it goes on your record, win or lose – good luck trying to rent anything after that). He also intends to sue on the basis of retaliatory eviction. I swear I am not a litigious person. And, I do not want to be embroiled in some law suit. But, my lawyer assures me that he will get a protective order preventing me from being deposed until I am well. At the very least, this will prevent me from being evicted and allow me the time to move out when I am ready.
This landlord is really stupid. This is a classic case of retaliatory eviction. And, I am protected by both the ADA and special rules regarding cancer patients under the Fair Housing Council as well as under federal laws. It is nutty. I feel like I am living out a law school hypothetical. They don’t even write them this clear cut.
And, it is not something I look forward to dealing with. However, I am not going to be bullied by this guy and be pushed around. I am stronger, getting stronger every day. I do have surgery to recover from. But, I am not going to be forced out of my home. Not now, especially not now, when I am trying to get ready for surgery and prepare for my recovery from surgery. There will be a second surgery as soon as I am fully recovered from the May 11th surgery. So, moving is just not something I can do in the next three or four months, at least not without a lot of hardship.
Probably the most upsetting thing about all of this, aside from the great stress it is causing me, is that it has prevented me from having a chance to just relax in between treatment and surgery. There are so many people who have helped me through this time and I would so like to be able to just sit down and call friends and family and thank them and enjoy this time – this first time since this whole thing began – now cancer free.
I am very aware of how I spend my time now. That is something cancer does for you, or to you, depending upon how you look at it I have very little patience for aggravation anymore, or even just things that I don’t enjoy. I see it as something that is taking up time that I might not have again. And, really, that is true, no matter how much time left any of us has . . . any time that passes is time we don’t get back. But, somehow, I see it very differently now. I can’t stand wasted time. It is both a blessing and a curse at the same time. The curse part is that I find myself very impatient about certain things. The blessing part is that I work to try to enjoy every day. I guess, since most of today has been spent dealing with this landlord situation, then I have to take joy in the fact that I am not letting him bully me – it is all in how you look at it right?
I know that I have clear scans now and I also know that I might not the next time I have scans. I know that the odds have not been in my favor, that the statistics for survival rates a year out, five years out, are not good. But, I am here and my scans are clear. Still, those pesky little statistics, and just what I have been through, do really color how I look at time; how I spend my time.
But, there are medical advancements coming out all of the time. In fact, there is already a new protocol for the first line of defense for the kind of cancer I had (yes, had, damn it). And, as a friend of mine, and fellow cancer patient, always says – the longer you are in the pink, the more likely there will be something available for you should you not be in the pink. We are both in the pink right now. Incidentally, my friend, who was diagnosed in 2007, and had a recurrence since 2007, is now working and enjoying life . . . and that is what I intend to do – enjoy life. And, besides, I am not a statistic and I refuse to be defined in that way.
I guess my point, (or one point, anyway) was that I don’t have the patience for certain things anymore. But, I know that I need to not let this landlord tell me when I am moving. I need to stand my ground. It is important that he not be allowed to do what he is attempting to do . . . not to me, not to anyone.