Curtis and Carolyn Shiver are low-income parents of four children in Philadelphia. Shortly after moving into their new home in July of 2016, the Shivers faced a wide range of problems with the home, including a lack of electricity, flooding in the basement and backyard, and heating issues. After repeated complaints to EY Realty, the only maintenance done was replacing an electric circuit box.
In late February 2017, raw sewage came spewing into the kitchen from the drainage connection to the clothes washer (which was located in the kitchen) and the kitchen sink. Urine, human feces, toilet paper, and sewage water flooded the first floor. Plumbers were sent to the property. They looked at the situation but did not do any work, saying they needed permission from the property owner to make repairs. In March of 2017, the property was marked unfit for human habitation.
The property management company finally cleaned up the raw sewage in the first floor of the house and fixed the underlying cause of the clogged system. EY Realty told the family not to worry about March’s rent, but the family began paying rent again in April. Curtis again complained to EY Realty about the conditions of the property, namely the back wall crumbling and additional flooding in the basement. He specified that he had lost clothes, a computer, and a speaker set due to basement flooding and his renter’s insurance did not cover it because he had already hit his policy maximum in March.
In May of 2017, after paying that month’s rent, Curtis asked EY Realty to move his family to a new property because of the conditions. EY Realty said there were none available, so the family would just have to find a new place on their own and move out. Because of the continued issues, the Shivers stopped paying rent in July. An eviction complaint was then filed against the Shivers on September 11, 2017. Mike Carroll from Community Legal Services represented the family in landlord tenant court on October 10, 2017, and negotiated a mediated agreement in which the landlord would withdraw the eviction case and “retain security deposit and any prepaid rent.”
On September 22, 2017, the family signed a new lease for a four-bedroom home managed by the Philadelphia Housing Authority and has since moved into their new home. The Law Center then got involved and sent a demand letter to Moshe Zenwirth, the property owner, and EY Realty, the property management company. That demand letter can be read in full here. The Law Center eventually helped the Shivers obtain a $35,000 settlement.