Jennifer Shelfer, an Arnall Golden Gregory associate, met Ms. Valiway on a recent Saturday morning at Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation’s weekly legal clinic. Ms. Valiway explained that she, her five young children, and her elderly mother rented a house that had fallen into disrepair. The sink, bathtub, and toilet were so clogged that Ms. Valiway had to scoop water out and throw it outside. The HVAC was broken, and the house was sweltering. The appliances were barely operable, and most windows were nailed shut. There were holes in the bathroom walls. Roaches had the run of the house and even got inside the ancient refrigerator. The exterminator refused to come back after the landlord did not pay him.
When Ms. Valiway complained, the landlord responded by filing an eviction. While Jennifer prepared her defenses and counterclaims, AVLF used grant funds from The Home Depot Foundation to purchase some emergency supplies for Ms. Valiway – box fans, roach bait, and a small refrigerator that would keep a few meals cold and roach-free.
After a two-day bench trial, the Magistrate Court ruled in Ms. Valiway’s favor – refusing to evict her and instead awarding her the jurisdictional maximum of $15,000, costs, and interest! Outstanding work, Jennifer.