A final resolution now in a landlord/tenant dispute we've beenfollowing since October. A judge hasmade a decision on the claims brought by both parties to State Court last week. Thecase had been moved to State Court because of the amount of damages demanded bythe tenants in a counter-claim to an eviction notice and demand for past-duerent served on them last fall. Each sidegot to present their case last week -the judge has now dismissed both claims.
It was a convoluted taleinvolving claims of past due rent and an eventual eviction filed by thelandlord, Randall Knowles, “I told them they had to move out because they werestill behind - they were further and further behind.” Juxtaposed against claims of unresponsiveowners refusing to fix plumbing and basic appliance issues in their rental home- eventually leading to a flood that the renters claimed caused damage inexcess of 10-thousand dollars to their furniture and possessions. Ashley Altman showed a video in court, “It iswater and sewage from the toilet - it went to all of the rooms, the livingroom, the dining room.”
Judge Hermann Coolidge listened to both sides present their caselast week. This week his decision: the evictionmoot since the tenants have already moved out. The home's owners failed to provide enough evidence to prove they'reowed past due rent or court costs; and the former tenants had provided noevidence of the value of their alleged damages or that they are entitled to anyrecovery...all claims dismissed. Neitherside winning or losing - but perhaps learning some lessons along the way.Cornelia Reed with City Code Enforcement explains how landlord/tenant disputes shouldbe handled, “The tenants do have rights - any time they have any type ofrepairs that are needed - electrical, mechanical and plumbing repairs - thetenant should notify they landlord to give them the opportunity to fix it…ifthe landlord refuses to correct that violation - the tenant needs to call 311immediately.”
Once that callto 3-1-1 is made - a report will be taken and a property maintenance inspectorsent out. A citation will be issued tothe owner if necessary - to correct the problem within a certain period oftime.
A months-long dispute between a tenant and their landlord came to a head in a Chatham County Courtroom this afternoon. Casey and Randall Knowles told the court the Altman's were more than a thousand dollars behind in rent before being served an eviction notice.
James and Ashley Altman presented receipts for rent paid the week before their eviction showing no past due amount. They told the judge they believe they were evicted for contacting WSAV to complain about conditions in the home and have counter-sued the Knowles for more than ten-thousand dollars due to damage to their furniture they say was caused by flooding from faulty plumbing in the house. Ashley Altman, representing her family, asked Randall Knowles about that on the witness stand, "Can you tell me who did the piping for the water heater and the kitchen area?" "Yes - it was me", replied Knowles. "Are you a licensed plumber?, asked Altman. No, I'm not," admitted Knowles.
A woman who works with the Knowles testified she believes the damage was caused by rain when the Altman family moved down from Atlanta. "They were traveling from the Atlanta area to Savannah and they were complaining because all their things got wet," said Cassandra Kemp. Randall Knowles told Ashley Altman he believes the flood only happened because the family had been told they had to move out, "This did not happen until you cussed me out and I told ya'll you had to move - this is when all this started happening."
The Altmans admit to having yelled at Knowles - but only after they say he refused to have the plumbing fixed when the house was flooding. They showed a video to the judge they had taken of that flood.
We did not show the faces of the Knowles and their employee in this story because they work in the repossession business and requested their faces not be shown. Judge Hermann Coolidge did not make a decision on Wednesday. He said he will review the evidence and expects to make one soon. We'll let you know what happens.
3221 South Evans Street
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