Sharon is a single mother of two young toddlers. Desperately in need of housing for her young family, she rented a house in very poor condition from a local landlord. The house had many health and safety hazards such as leaking water and rodent infestation. Although the landlord promised to fix the house when Sharon agreed to enter the lease agreement, he did not make any repairs after he collected her first months rent and security deposit.
The landlord also attempted to take advantage of Sharon as a young, single mother living alone with her children. On several occasions when he would appear at the house to collect rent the landlord also would attempt to obtain sexual favors in a physically intimidating fashion as he had done with other tenants. After repeated refusals to his advances the landlord threatened to evict Sharon and her children from the house leaving them homeless in the middle of winter.
Despite the fact that Sharon paid her rent in full and on time each month, the landlord refused to make any repairs to the rental unit. Sharon contacted City Licensing and Inspection to report the conditions in her home. An inspector confirmed Sharon’s allegations after inspecting the house and sent a notice to the landlord to make repairs. In response to the notice from the City Inspector the landlord turned off the utilities to the rental unit and filed an action with the Justices of the Peace Court to evict Sharon from the rental unit.
With nowhere else to turn, Sharon contacted the Wilmington office of Legal Services Corporation of Delaware (LSCD). The attorney at LSCD told Sharon that the landlord acted illegally and that she could file a counterclaim for retaliatory eviction, rent abatement and unlawful ouster. LSCD filed the counterclaim for damages against the landlord on behalf of Sharon and her young children and requested that the action filed by the landlord be dismissed.
At Court Sharon and the City inspector both testified concerning the abuses of the landlord. The Court dismissed the landlord’s suit and awarded damages to Sharon for rent abatement and an unlawful ouster.
With the damages she obtained from the landlord, Sharon found a new home that was safe and decent. As a result of the assistance that she received from the LSCD attorney, Sharon and her children are free from the harassing conduct and the dangerous conditions in which they were forced to live.