Emilie Fairbanks, Esq.

202 681 4694 office

202 688 1864 fax

419 7th Street NW, Suite 405

Washington, DC 20004

info@efairbankslaw.com

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Friday
Sep232011

Why I Represent Both Landlords & Tenants 

The vast majority of my practice involves representing landlords.  However, unlike many “landlord’s attorneys,” I also represent tenants, mainly in serious Housing Code violation cases and tenant petitions and on a case-by-case basis. 

My landlord clients work hard to provide quality housing in a difficult marketplace, to respond to tenant needs, to keep up with repair issues in a market filled with older buildings.  Customer service is important to them. 

But there are landlords, not my clients, and often not represented at all, who do not take the responsibilities of being housing providers seriously.  They do not view themselves as responsible for the health and safety of their tenants, they rent without doing any investigation into the legal requirements landlords must follow, and they ignore serious and valid tenant complaints. 

Landlord/tenant court can come with a large amount of frustration and animosity.  But the parties also need to preserve working relationships.  The job of attorneys should be to lower the level of emotion in a case.  Too often civility has been lost in landlord/tenant court and we see “our” side as the only right side. 

I take very few tenant cases.  Many tenants qualify for free legal services through Bread for the City, Law Students in Court, or the Legal Aid Society.  They all provide excellent legal service for those tenants who meet their income requirements and can find an agency to represent them.  

If private landlord/tenant attorneys will not represent tenants under any circumstances, middle class tenants are denied access to representation by experienced L&T attorneys.  As more and more families occupy rental housing as a permanent housing solution, they will need attorneys to help them access the justice system effectively.  I hope to be part of that solution.         

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