By, David Bellow
A Lumberton, TX Landlord and a Lumberton, TX Justice of the Peace, Butch Cummings, have given a woman and 4 small children 5 days before they are kicked out on the street in an apparently illegal and pre-meditated act of retaliation. The mother is not past due on her rent and is only getting evicted because this concerned mother legally complained about health conditions of their trailer such as deadly mold and open electrical boxes with water flowing through them. This mother was told that the trailer was only “temporary” to begin with when they moved in and it has just been discovered that it was not even allowed to be rented in the first place because of the city inspection violations. The Fire Marshall even reported that there were over a dozen violations including a life threatening safety risk. The Judge seems to be friends with the landlord and kicked this mother out without an proper hearing and without even listening to the side of the mother or looking at the mother's evidence. It is illegal to evict someone for complaining about health conditions.
We have to spread the word and help keep this mother from getting put out on the streets illegally by a crooked judge and a slumlord.
Below is the written story, but first, here is a video of me talking with this family at the trailer house. The mother gets choked up talking about how she just does not want her kid to get hurt or anyone else in the trailer park to get hurt because of the safely hazards. This video shows the ceiling caving in and shows the water faucet that does not have a thermostat so that their kids could get scolded. It shows the light switch where the water flows through causing a shock risk and even shows the toilet paper outside where the sewer leaks.
Video Part 1
Video Part 2
here is the story of the Slumlord and the Crooked Justice of the Peace:
Jan and her husband moved to Lumberton, TX in October 2010. They were shown a decent trailer to move into. They paid the rent but come time to move in, the landlord sent them to a “temporary” trailer. This temporary trailer was not even allowed to be rented because of its unlivable conditions according to the city inspector (I am not sure why the City of Lumberton has not enforced these inspection results). Even though they were in the temporary trailer, Jan still paid her rent on time every month and is still current on her rent.
After some time of living in the temporary trailer without hearing anything from the landlord, Jan decided to get in touch with the landlord, Dawn Flemming, about when they could move into their original trailer. The landlord told her there is no other trailer and she is stuck where she is at. Jan then took the proper steps to file a complaint about the living conditions such as black mold, holes in roof, open electrical boxes, and sewer leaking into bathtub (click here to see photos of temporary trailer).
What Jan got in response to her complaint was an eviction notice and the actual reason for eviction, written on the eviction notice, was that she “complained too much”, even though Texas law strictly prohibits evictions that come as a result of a condition complaint. It is considered retaliation.
Her eviction hearing was yesterday, June 21st, 2011, in front of Lumberton, TX Justice of the Peace W.W. Butch Cummings. You might remember Butch Cummings because of the complaint against him that he coerced his opponent out of the election and threatened bodily harm if anyone opened their mouths about it. When Jan showed up to the eviction hearing the Property Manager, Dawn Flemming, was sitting and laughing with Butch Cummings like they were good friends. When Jan walked in, Butch Cummings asked Jan where she was from. Jan said she was from Florida. Butch Cummings said “you need to return to Florida” and gave Jan 5 days to leave. Jan was not given Due Process in the Judicial hearing and was not even allowed to show any evidence pertaining to the situation. The Property Manager said “I’ll find another sucker who won’t complain”.
Jan’s father is a building inspector from Florida. His name is Carl Dawson. He is the gentleman who contacted me about this entire incident. He said that his inspection of the trailer park showed that almost 80% of the trailers are not up to code and that many other tenants told him that they were threatened with eviction when they complained about the unlivable conditions.
Jan and Carl are already contacting agencies to send complaints to. I have encouraged them to also file a complaint with the Hardin County Attorney and the District Attorney because it appears that laws have been violated. I have also encouraged them to file a complaint with the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct.
Jan and Carl Dawson are more than happy to talk to the media about this injustice. They can be contacted by contacting David Bellow at 409 656 5128 or emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org
The name of the mobile home park is:
Country Pines Mobile Home Park
1119 S Main, Lumberton, TX 77657
Property Manager: Dawn Flemming
Property Owner: Loyle Rodgers
I have had people ask me why would this mother live there in the first place and also why doesn't she just move to a new place tomorrow. She got trapped into the old switch and bait... she was shown a good trailer when they were moving in but then were put into this "temporary" trailer. They did not know of all the problems at first and they did not expect to be there for long and they could not afford to lose the money they paid the landlord. Once these health problems became aware they started complaining and asked to have the problems fixed or for them to be moved in a trailer without life threatening safety issues. They were denied help and then got an eviction for complaining. They are low income and cannot just get up and move and they fully expected that the landlord would fix the problems. the landlord and the judge are the bad guys. This family just does not have the money to get themselves out of the situation but they are doing their best to cover the problem areas to protect the kids and to file a complaint to have the landlord fix it. It is the landlords responsibility to fix the trailer and it is illegal to evict someone after a health hazard complaint. If this family knew at the beginning that there were so many health problems or that the problems would never be fixed then they would have found somewhere else to live to begin with. It is just another example of low income individuals getting trapped in a situation that they do not have the money to get out of it. To top it off this jusge did not even accept any evidence from this family and told her she had 5 days to leave. She asked for 30 days to the finances together to find another place but she was told to just leave... all because she complained about life threatening conditions. This landlord and judge should be ashamed