[The below letter was sent to Supervisor Antonovich.]
Dear Mr. Antonovich:
Landlords need your help! This letter is to inform you that BASTA, INC. [a non-profit organization that specializes in tenants’ rights] is intimidating, unethical and disrespectful of the court and their actions must not be allowed by the court.
BASTA, INC. helps non-paying tenants to use and abuse the court system. The following is my personal experience.
I had an eviction case against a tenant. The judge instructed the tenant and me to step out of the court and attempt to settle our case between ourselves, avoiding court intervention. We stepped out of the court, per the judge’s instruction and came to an agreement.
When we returned to court, the judge was on break and not on the bench. Immediately, the BASTA lawyer approached my tenant and then asked me to step out of the court with him. He said that if I do not sign the stipulation he wrote that I could see him in court. I was intimidated so, reluctantly, I signed the stipulation because I did not want to further complicate the case.
Prior to court, the person who assisted me in document preparation, warned me about BASTA so I got prior knowledge of BASTA and its practices.
After the court hearing, I decided to go to the office of Attorney Edward Ambill to consult with him about what happened in court. From the information I gathered, the following situations happened:
- BASTA, INC. is very aggressive in soliciting tenants, even along the court’s hallway. In my case, BASTA solicited my tenant inside the courtroom, after my tenant and I followed the judge’s instructions. Their action was so unprofessional and very disrespectful of the court.
- BASTA represents tenants who do not even need to show up for the court hearing.
- BASTA asks for jury trials for unlawful detainer hearings. To be represented in a jury setting, a landlord can spend up to $6,000 for a lawyer’s representation. Jury hearings rarely happen because landlords are forced to settle with BASTA, the simpler, cheaper and faster alternative.
- BASTA requires money settlements from landlords in the thousands of dollars, payable to BASTA. The settlement includes that the landlord has to agree not collect outstanding rent owed, damages, attorney’s fees, interest, and costs.
- The tenant would not have the eviction on record. Therefore, the database on bad tenants becomes corrupted and worthless.
- Even if a landlord is to push his principle and continue the eviction process even in a jury setting and win, money judgments against a tenant is uncollectible.
In my observation, during this rare occasion that I was in court, eviction cases have changed drastically because of BASTA. Many unlawful detainer cases now involve jury hearings. Unbelievable! This can cause a landlord into financial ruin.
Mr. Antonovich, please help us landlords attain justice. We service society by providing housing. Ultimately, our financial survival would assure availability of more rental housing.
Sincerely, Teresita L.