KC Family Sues Slumlord & Wins $40,000: After Months of Rat Infestation & No Electricity
A groundbreaking jury verdict in Kansas City marks a historic win for tenant rights as Mary Smith is awarded $40,000 in a case against landlord neglect, spotlighting the urgent need for safe, habitable homes for all. The post KC Family Sues Slumlord & Wins $40,000: After Months of Rat Infestation & No Electricity appeared first on Kansas City Defender.
Kansas City, MO – In a groundbreaking verdict on January 26th, a Jackson County jury delivered justice for Mary Smith, a tenant who has bravely stood up against her landlord’s violent eviction attempts, marking a monumental win for tenants across the city.
Ms. Smith stopped paying rent for seven months straight, because of the horrifying and inhumane living conditions her family was forced to survive, including; rodent infestation, sewage backup, unsafe and non-working electrical wiring, structural damage, lack of smoke detectors, holes in walls and siding, and non-locking exterior doors.
The jury awarded Smith $40,000, recognizing the severe violations of her right to a safe and habitable living environment. The victory was aided by the relentless advocacy of Safe Homes for All team at the Heartland Center for Jobs and Freedom.
While the legal battle was initiated under the guise of “owed rent” which the landlord claimed Smith owed, at its core, it was a fight for basic human rights.
Smith counterattacked, invoking Missouri’s warranty of habitability and the Merchandising Practices Act to expose her landlord’s fraudulent and deceitful practices.
Residing in her East Kansas City home since 2017, Smith and her son endured a nightmare of uninhabitable conditions – all while the landlord shamelessly demanded her rent.
Gina Chiala, a fierce advocate and executive director at Heartland, emphasized the rarity and historical significance of this jury verdict in an eviction case. The message to landlords is unequivocal: prioritize tenant safety and health or face severe repercussions.
“Rarely, if ever, do juries get to weigh in on eviction cases, so this was a historical moment,” she told The Defender, “…The message is clear: landlords need to clean up their properties and ensure that tenants’ homes are safe and healthy or the consequences could be heavy.”
Mary Smith, embodying resilience and hope, stated, “I hope that my case helps all tenants win safe and healthy homes, no matter where they live, what race they are and how poor they are. We have a right to decent housing.”
Since its inception in 2017, the Heartland Center for Jobs and Freedom has been at the forefront of advocating for tenant and low-wage worker rights, demanding justice and systemic change. Stay informed and engaged with their ongoing fight for economic justice and tenant rights by visiting www.jobsandfreedom.org and following them on Instagram @jobsandfreedom.
The post KC Family Sues Slumlord & Wins $40,000: After Months of Rat Infestation & No Electricity appeared first on Kansas City Defender.