Monday, September 15, 2008
Help Me Howard: Missing Rent
If you rent, there are probably months when it's tough to scrape together the money, so imagine paying the rent and the landlord saying you've got to pay again because they left your rent money outside the door, and it was stolen. Do you have to pay again? For the answer, here is Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- You can define work two ways: sitting in an air conditioned office for eight hours a day is work, and then there is digging ditches, fixing roofs, cutting yards in the hot sun kind of work.
John Goulet: "As you can see, I cut yards, I do landscaping all day by myself."
John Goulet works hard for two reasons, his son.
John Goulet: "Future UFC champion right there."
And his wife Brenda.
John Goulet: "Had a baby, started a business together, and it's becoming very successful, and I couldn't do anything without her."
As with any young couple, money is tight, and their problem started when the rent was due on Aug. 1.
Brenda Goulet: "I put $800 in cash and $120 in a check."
She dropped the envelope with the cash into this slot on Friday night. On Saturday, John got a call while he was out working to come get the cash, that they didn't accept it. By the time he got to the office on Monday, the cash was gone.
Brenda Goulet: "She says she slipped it in the crack of that door and got it halfway in the house."
The complex's receptionist claims she put the envelope with the $800 cash into their door, she didn't bother to knock on the door or call to let them know and, as you can imagine, $800 left outside in South Florida didn't last long.
Brenda Goulet: "That's their rent money. It's in their hands, they should have been responsible for it."
They called the Hollywood Police. The office assistant admitted to the officer that she left the money outside the door. But John is a little on the skeptical side after she also said she slipped the envelope with 40 $20 bills into their door.
John Goulet: "Even this, even this probably can't even fit under there. Look, I am crumbling it up, and it cant even fit under there, nowhere."
When John complained to the apartment manager they were told, "Too bad."
John Goulet: "And now they are saying we have to pay them cause they are going to evict us because they lost that money. I already paid my rent, how am I gonna pay another $800 when I already paid $800. I already paid my rent."
They paid the rent, the landlord lost the rent, now do they have to pay it again?
Howard Finkelstein: "No, they don't have to pay the rent again. The complex can return the cash and demand a check or money order, but they have to return it in a responsible way or keep it until the Goulets come and get it. Dropping it outside a door is clearly negligent and irresponsible."
I called the apartment complex, their property manager and their attorney each four times. Not one call was returned.
That's when attorney Alonso Martin agreed to take on the case for the Goulets for free. He won.
Alonso Martin: "The payment that she made was finally applied to her rent for August, so my client didn't have to pay any more money, and they got their security deposit returned to them."
The Goulets got their security deposit back and, at the end of the month, moved out into a much nicer place.
John Goulet: "Alonso is a great guy, and I'm really thankful, and I thank God for him, and I thank God for Patrick too and everything worked out great. I would like to say thank you for everyone at Channel 7 for helping us out.You guys are angels, absolutely helped us out."
John and Brenda say they learned a lesson, don't pay with cash, and if you do, get a receipt, and when you have something that belongs to someone else, whether it's something they left at your house or loaned to you, you have a responsibility to protect it and take care of it to prevent it from being destroyed because, if it is, in many cases you have to replace it or pay for it.
Feel like you've rented trouble? Want to return it to sender? Drop off your problems with us. We'll help you cash in.
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