MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Memphis mother claims her landlord refused to make repairs to the home she is renting until she renewed her lease leaving her and her children in a home without utilities for more than a week.
“I had just gone to the store when I got a call from my neighbor telling me I need to get back home. There were three fire trucks and MLGW here,” said Tameka Gaither, tenant.
Gaither’s breaker box had just exploded on the house she is renting from HavenBrook Homes. Gaither immediately notified her property manager on the 20th of last week.
“From Saturday until Monday the next business day, we went the entire weekend we with no utilities, no air, lost all my food,” said Gaither.
Gaither said MLGW told her a certified electrician needed to come out and replace the breaker box. Until then her meter would be confiscated.
Gaither said she relayed that information to her property manager, but rather than sending an electrician Friday, Gaither said maintenance showed up. Along with an email that asked her to renew her lease.
“So Saturday came, the electrician came out. They said it was above them. They would have to send someone else out. I reached out to my landlord let them know. They did not respond but rather sent me a lease again to sign,” said Gaither.
Gaither claimed this cycle continued until she finally caved a day before her lease was set to expire.
“An hour later they sent someone out to sign the breaker box,” said Gaither.
“A Landlord can never cut off your utilities as a form of negotiations. It’s called an unlawful ouster,” said Michale Working, Working Law Firm.
Working said Gaither should not have signed the lease, but she may be able to get out of it.
“Potentially she can breach the lease if it’s an unlawful ouster by depriving her of essential utilities, but it sounds like it would be a good idea to get a hotel in the meantime,” said Working.
We reached out to the property manager but never got a response.
However, we did get a response from a representative for Haven Brook Homes.
“We share the concerns of Ms. Gaither regarding the electrical box outage. Repairs have been completed, but we are awaiting a final inspection from the city so we can restore power to her home.”
The statement also said they offered to reimburse Gaither for the housing until power could be restored.
Regarding the renewal the company said:
“We never ask or require residents to renew their lease in order to complete a service request. However, we do use an automated system that sends email reminders to residents near the end of their lease term that it’s time to renew, which was in process during the period in which repairs were being made. The renewal process is not connected in any way to our service request process.”
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