The court date in our eviction case came and went without affecting much change.
Everything was different this time. We were represented by an attorney. We had a judge who actually observed the rules of civil procedure. Even the reason for the eviction case was different this time. Instead of evicting us for $58 that we don’t owe or a contract that we haven’t breached, The Landlord tried a new tactic. This time, she needed us out of the house “RIGHT NOW, TODAY!!!!!” because apparently we are endangering her grandchildren and Child Protective Services has demanded our removal.
Except that CPS has done no such thing. We live next door to The Landlord and her grandchildren. We don’t so much as set a foot in their yard. We have absolutely nothing to do with either The Landlord or her grandchildren, unless you count the times she tasked us with babysitting them, but that’s been a few months now. The Landlord claims that we are preventing her from providing for the physical safety and financial security of the children by…. get this…… calling the police. ON HER. For things like trespassing, harassing us, and assault.
She went on and on about how this eviction is for the sake of the children, who did not live with her when the eviction was filed and weren’t mentioned in the actual suit itself. The judge informed her that while The Landlord herself undoubtedly cares very much about the children, that she, The Judge, is concerned with who has the greater legal right to possession of the house we live in, a subject which has nothing to do with children who live next door.
To make a pretty short story even shorter, the Landlord went crazy. Crying, wailing, flailing her arms, etc. And the children were crying as well. Yes, she brought the 2 year old and 3 year old to court. Because spending a day in county court and dealing with The Landlord’s emotional outbursts is clearly in their best interest.
After threatening The Landlord with a Contempt of Court arrest and giving her a chance to compose herself in a conference room (it didn’t work), the judge reset the hearing for a date three weeks in the future and told The Landlord she would need to arrange for a babysitter that day.
She left the courtroom in histrionics. The only words we spoke were “I do” as we were being sworn in. That’s seriously as far as it went before she lost control of herself. The highlights of the very abbreviated legal proceeding were: 1) the obviously fake letter The Landlord tried to pass off as a demand from CPS that we vacate for the sake of the children, and 2) The Landlord’s offer to get the lower court judge (whose ruling we are appealing) on the phone so he can explain to the current judge why she should rule against us.
Since The Landlord left in her private vehicle and we rely on public transportation, she got home much faster than we did. In fact, we were just getting on the bus outside of the court building when we received a call from a roommate. The Landlord had already arrived at the house AND HAD CALLED THE WATER COMPANY ONTO THE PROPERTY TO DISCONNECT THE WATER SERVICE.
Obviously we’re not dealing with a person who is in her right mind. So our attorney contacted The Landlord and let her know what the legal ramifications for disconnecting utility services would be. Well, some of them, anyway.
So we are basically in a holding pattern until the second week of March, at the absolute earliest.
Some people are undoubtedly wondering why we are proceeding with this court case rather than vacating. A few people have asked me outright and several more have implied that they don’t understand our motivation. I’m quite certain that The Landlord herself can’t fathom why we are still here.
It’s multifaceted, really, but quite simple.
First, I’ve recently learned that life (generally) and people (specifically) will kick me around for as long as I allow them to. Bad things WILL keep happening to me until I stand my ground.
Second, we are citizens of the United States and the State of Texas. We have rights. The Landlord can add statements like “You have no rights according to the state of Texas” and “This is legal” and “I have written this with the advice of a landlord-tenant lawyer I have hired” to her written notices all she wants, but the fact is that we are ALL protected by the laws of this state, including the Texas Property Code.
Third, we haven’t done anything wrong. Most people aren’t accustomed to hearing the word “eviction” thrown around unless the tenant has done something WRONG. Therefore, there must be some reason why we deserve this. We must owe her money, we must have breached the agreement, etc. EXCEPT THAT WE DON’T. We do not owe her a dime. The aforementioned Texas Property Code provides specific protection against retaliatory actions, and this is a clear case of retaliation.
Fourth, the next time she wants to treat another human being the way she has treated me, I want her to think again. I want her to understand that legal agreements, written OR oral, cannot be dispersed with because she no longer likes the person she made the agreement with or can’t trust that person to lie for her. I want her to understand that nobody has to do anything she says just because she says it; there is a legal process and there should never be any expectation that any tenant would ever “VACATE RIGHT NOW, TODAY!!!!” just because she said to do so.
It’s not that I love living in this house so much that I can’t stand to part with it. And I actually don’t derive any enjoyment whatsoever from the protracted battle with The Landlord. Frankly, both the sight and sound of her make my stomach turn and I look forward with great anticipation to the day we move away from her. But her actions have been unreasonable, immoral, and illegal.
I would have responded quite differently if she’d approached this in a way that … well … made any sense whatsoever. But I will not ever respond favorably to screaming, threats, intimidation, harassment, theft, assault, and retaliation.