READ ME ... yeah, right. Right?

I'm sick of everyone else having on-line diaries. I want one too.

What is this all about? Maybe you should read the READ ME READ ME.

september 4, 1996: some names and places addresses

Rebecca Eisenberg
13 My Street
San Francisco, CA

September 3, 1996

Joseph W and Michele M. LandLord
"Satan Properties"
Down Deep Under Drive
San Francisco, CA 94131

Dear Mr. and Ms. Evil:

This letter is written, enclosed with payment for my September rent, in order to clarify the events of the last two weeks with respect to rodents in the building located at 13 My Street, and a few other building maintenance matters.

On or about 5.30 a.m., on Monday, August 26, 1996, I saw a brown rat scamper across my apartment floor. It disappeared into my kitchen, and appeared to run behind the refrigerator .

That morning, I informed Iris Devil, the building manager, of the rodent problem. Iris denied that there could be a rat in the building, and instead insisted that the animal I saw must have been a mouse. I told her that it was too big to be a mouse. Iris told me that any rodent in my apartment was my problem, and not her responsibility, and that I should go buy a trap to catch the mouse. I requested from her the phone number of my landlord, so that I could speak with them directly, but Iris refused. I asked her to whom I should speak regarding the rodent problem, and she repeated that it is not her problem.

The next day I went to the hardware store and bought traps. However, that same day I began to smell something rank in my apartment, and the traps caught nothing.

I informed Iris that there was a nasty smell in the apartment, and again Iris refused to take action. I asked her to bring in an exterminator and she refused. She again told me that this was my problem. I asked her for the name and number of the landlord, and she refused to give it out.

Over the next few days, I looked for the rat, and even enlisted the help of a neighbor, but none of us could find it. We did smell a noxious odor, however. Again I asked Iris for help, and she again refused. She told me that she talked to the landlords, and that it was the landlords' position that my rabbit, whom they have never seen, and who lives in a cage on the other side of the apartment, was the cause of the rat. There is no evidence that rabbits cause rats in apartments. Iris has two dogs, which would be more likely to attract a rat than a rabbit. I can obtain proof of this fact.

Exasperated and unable to inhabit the apartment with the foul odor, I left town on Thursday evening, August 29, 1996.

When i returned home on Monday night, September 2, 1996, the stench in my kitchen was unbearably foul. A friend of mine was in my apartment programming on my computer. Together we moved the refrigerator and found the decaying rat body.

I immediately called Iris, who screamed at me. She called me, inter alia, a "whore," a "bitch," and a "fucking useless bitch who only causes problems." Nonetheless, I continued on the phone, and asked Iris or the landlord's phone number. She would not give it to me. Thus I knocked on Iris's apartment door. Iris opened it up, screamed at me that I was a "useless rotten dirty bitch," and she took a swing at me. Iris hit me in the eye, grabbed me by my shoulders, shook me, and slammed the door on me. Before she pushed me out of her way, she accused me of being irrational. Her eyes were red and fiery. Her girlfriend was there. I asked her if she was high on crack, and she did not answer. Her girlfriend grabbed her and pulled her back so she would not hit me again. My friend Joe witnessed the whole scene and took photographs.

My eye hurting, I returned to my apartment and called 911. The police arrived a few minutes later, and filed a report. I told the police that I would not file criminal charges against Iris if she were willing to give me the landlord's phone number so that I could have the rat removed. Iris reluctantly gave the phone number to the police, who delivered it to me. The police instructed me not to work out building problems through Iris, but instead to work directly through the landlord. I told the police about how my friend and I had overheard a conversation of Iris's when the phone lines were crossed last week, in which Iris discussed a time when she recently paid 100 dollars for crack cocaine. The police took notes and left.

I then called Michele, and told her about the putrid odor in my apartment which had rendered it completely uninhabitable and about the dead and decaying rat in my kitchen. I told Michele that I could not remove the rat by myself, because it looked that the body would fall apart upon lifting. I also informed Michele about the pile of cockroaches, mainly dead, that had gathered around the decaying rat body. I requested removal of the unhealthy and dangerous conditions immediately. Michele promised that she or her husband would call me first thing in the morning.

Having not heard from either Michele or Joe in the morning, I called an exterminator and arranged for an exterminator to arrive before 10 am. I called Michele and informed her of this, and she said that she arranged for a less expensive exterminator to arrive after 3 PM. Michele insisted that she did not have my phone number, even though I have been a tenant of the building since February 1, 1996, and even though I had given it to her that very night before. Michele was very angry that I refused to wait until late afternoon to have the rat removed. She refused to come over to my apartment and witness for herself how unlivable the apartment had become. She refused to acknowledge that both my work and home life were completely on hold until the apartment were cleaned of the decaying rat and its accompanying stench and filthy insect conditions. She baselessly blamed the rodent on my pets, even though she had never examined how clean my apartment was (very clean), and had no evidence of that fact. I told Michele that I believed that the entire building was infested with rats. I also told her that I had already contacted the Environmental/Health Department to examine the building for infestations. After I made that remark, Michele threatened my eviction.

I told Michele that I would use my exterminator, because I could not wait until late afternoon with the stench and the insects Thus, I brought in the exterminator I had arranged, and then hired a professional cleaning service to attempt to disinfect the apartment and remove the stench. The professional exterminator told me that it was his professional opinion was that the rat entered my apartment through a hole in my kitchen wall, which I consequently covered with cardboard. He told me that there was absolutely no evidence that the rodent problem had anything to do with my pets. He said that the building walls were most likely infested with rats, and that one rat entered my apartment due to the hole in the wall above my stove, and died because it could not return to the hole in the wall. He signed a statement summarizing these professional opinions.

I then walked over to the Recorder's Office to obtain the landlord's address. I walked over next to the Department of Rent Control, and discussed the matter with a counselor. That counselor told me that the law requires that landlords provide buildings that are free of rodents, according to state statute. He also told me that I have a viable claim for reduction in rent due to reduction in services. Finally, he told me that any eviction at this time would be illegal as retaliation based on the fact that (1) I had complained about the rats; (2) I had reported the matter to the Health Department; and (3) even though almost every tenant in the building has at least one tenant -- including the *Manager*, who has two dogs in her apartment -- I am the only tenant against whom article 13 of the rent is being enforced.

Finally, he told me that it seems clear that Iris waived Article 13 of the rental agreement when she allowed me to take occupancy and rent the apartment with complete knowledge that I had both a cat and a rabbit who lives in a cage. Iris knew even before I moved in that I had these pets, and I can prove that through witnesses. There is no merger clause in the lease which provides that the written agreement constitutes the entire contract. There is also no anti-waiver provision. Thus Article 13 was clearly waived.

As a licensed attorney who is a member of the State Bar of California, it is my professional opinion that all of the above legal conclusions are accurate and correct.

Although I have a viable legal claim against the landlords, I would prefer to settle the manner in a non-litigious and professional manner. I am willing to continue to pay the entire rent on my apartment, providing that I am reimbursed for the repairs I was and am entitled to make to the apartment pursuant both the rental agreement and to California State law.

Understand, I use my apartment also as my home-office, so this disturbance in my living conditions interfered both with my home environment, and also with my ability to make a living.

Consequently, I am enclosing the following receipts with this letter: the receipt for the exterminator ($75), the receipt for the professional cleaning service, which was required to remove the stench ($41.25) and for the rat traps I bought ($8.00) (actually, I am not providing the latter receipt, but can provide the credit card record once it arrives). The total I am deducting from my rent is $124.25. This leaves a total of $690 - 124.25 = $565.75, for which I am including a check. The remainder of the rent is saved in an escrow account at my bank, Wells Fargo, in order to demonstrate my good faith in the matter.

Finally, I need to emphasize that Iris has been a delinquent an irresponsible building manager. For at least 6 months, I have been attempting to have the following defects in my apartment fixed:

1. the drains in the kitchen and bathroom are clogged and not smooth;

2. the toilet is broken, and runs if not turned off manually by sticking my hand into the water to shut off the flow of the water;

3. many of the windows are painted shut;

4. the back stairway hand railings are dangerously loose and liable to break any minute;

5. the hardwood floors are stained and contain dangerous nails which stick out sporadically, causing me several injuries.

6. the hole in the kitchen wall is exposed, and provides a gateway for insects and rodents to enter the apartment.

7. many, if not most, of the built-in cabinets, doors, and drawers do not close completely.

With regard to all of the above, Iris has refused to provide any help or guidance. She tells me that she is not responsible for fixing the defective and dangerous conditions, and will not tell me who is responsible for the repairs. Both California State Law and the rental agreement which governs my tenancy explicitly states that these repairs are not my responsibility since they were not caused by any misuse on my part.

Iris gets along with few if any of the tenants in the building. She is known for refusing to let tenants into the building when locked out; for screaming at the tenants for absolutely no reason; and for cruelly denying simple requests in a manner that suggests malice.

I believe that she is unfit to be a building manager.

Please advise me how I can fix the problems listed above.

In the meanwhile, please accept my check for September rent.

I am a professional woman who has a spotless credit rating, as well as a stellar history of getting along with my co-tenants and landlords. This whole experience with Iris has been shocking and completely unrepresentative of my genuinely peaceful and non-confrontational lifestyle.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me at the address, phone number, or email address listed above.

I greatly appreciate your attention to this matter.

Very truly yours,

Rebecca Eisenberg

cc: Kristin Diamond, Esq.
Residential Rent Stabilization and Arbitration Board
Public Health Department
San Francisco Tenants Union





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Copyright 1996 Rebecca Eisenberg All rights Reserved.