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Major Project 1: Complex Office Memo

Major Project 1: Complex Office Memo

In this project, the firm is representing Pat Shepp.

You will demonstrate your skill in analyzing legal issues and explaining that analysis in a legal memorandum. The task and case information are laid out below.

Draft a Complex Office Memo that examines whether or not our client has viable claims. Use the Legal Research Resources and the facts provided below. The notes from another paralegal’s interview with the client and other vital information are below. The Complex Office Memo must contain the following sections: Facts, Issue, Short Answer, Analysis, Counter-Argument, Rebuttal, and Conclusion.

In the Analysis section, provide an explanation of the law (from the Legal Research Resources below).  For the cases, you must include the common reasoning and the holdings of each case. There must be an application of the law to support your conclusion. The counter-argument must look at how the law can be used to reach the opposite conclusion from the one that you reached.

Specifically, in the office memo, your task is to address and evaluate the following: 

  • Whether or not Pat Shepp is in breach of the lease
  • Whether or not Pat Shepp should have to pay rent to the landlord or establish a rent escrow account

NOTE: The above are your tasks, not the legal issues for the Complex Office Memo. You will need to frame the legal issues for the memo.

Evaluation Criteria

Your explanation of the case law must be accurate and thorough. Your discussion of the application of the law to the client’s situation from both perspectives must be thorough. Citations using the regional citation format must be correct and complete. Points will be deducted for incorrect citation format. Your memo must reflect an understanding of the techniques for providing sufficient context and logical organization. You must use correct sentence structure and follow the rules for correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Your work will be evaluated according to the rubric for the major project.

Paralegal Memo, Interview Notes and Documents, Etc. – Use for ALL Major Projects

Letter from Landlord to Client – Notice to Vacate

The following letter was hand-delivered to Pat Shepp:

LAW OFFICES OF WALLACE & ASSOCIATES

500 Downtown Way

Upper Marlboro, Maryland 21202

 

November 27, 2017

 

Ms. Pat Shepp

100 Downtown Landover Apartments, Apt. F2

Landover, Maryland 21202

RE: NOTICE TO VACATE

Dear Ms. Shepp:

Our law firm represents Downtown Landover Apartments. The matter of the lease agreement for the residence located at Apartment F2, 100 Downtown Landover Apartments, Landover, Maryland (hereinafter referred to as the “Premises”) has been referred to our office.

For the last two months, you have failed to make your monthly rental payments of $1,600 per month.  Also, you have failed to lay carpets to reduce the noise on your hardwood floors as required by the lease. The noise of you and your children walking and running on the hardwood floors at all hours of the day and night have caused other tenants to call the landlord to complain. 

You have failed to make your rental payments and have substantially and materially violated the terms of the lease agreement.  The aforementioned alleged conduct constitutes substantial violations and material breaches of the terms of the lease agreement such that the landlord wishes to repossess the leased property.

You are hereby given notice that your occupancy of the above-referenced Premises will terminate in sixty (60) days. You have ten (10) days from the date of this letter to submit an advocacy letter to us stating why your tenancy should not be terminated. You have a right to defend this action in court.

Thank you for your anticipated attention to this matter.

Very truly yours,

Gerald Wallace

Attorney for Downtown Landover Apartments                                                 

Paralegal Memo – Paralegal’s Interview with Client

The paralegal interviewed Pat Shepp on December 1, 2017 and wrote the following memo:

To: Pat Shepp file

From: Paralegal

On November 27, 2017, Pat Shepp was personally served with a Complaint for Failure to Pay Rent and breach of lease. She admits that no rent has been paid for two months, but states that she withheld the rent because of dangerous housing conditions. Ms. Shepp said that she delivered a letter to the landlord approximately two months ago, September, 2017, stating that she was not going to pay rent until the defects and dangerous conditions were remedied.

Ms. Shepp moved into her apartment approximately one year ago, September 25, 2016. Prior to moving into her apartment, she noticed numerous defects. However, she moved into the apartment because she was desperate to find a home for her children and herself.

Ms. Shepp feels that she should not have to pay rent because of the following conditions:

  • the kitchen sink clogs regularly and the water leaks from the pipes and the disposal does work
  • toilet in the hallway bathroom leaves waste matter in the toilet for extended periods of time
  • there is a leak from the apartment above, causing all rooms to have rotten floorboards—several boards are so rotten that Ms. Shepp’ youngest child fell through the floor on July 5, 2017

I asked Ms. Shepp if I could tape our interview. I explained that the attorney had to go to an emergency hearing and that I wanted to accurately state Ms. Shepp’ position. She agreed to let me tape her interview. The following are her exact comments:

I can’t believe that my landlord is trying to evict me. I’m the one who should be suing him. The only reason I live at Downtown Landover Apartments is because I can’t afford to move somewhere else.

It’s true that I have not put down carpets. I am afraid to lay the carpets because of the ceiling leaks. I don’t want to put down carpets that are always wet or get ruined. . 

I am a single mother with three young children. The conditions in the house are terrible.  They are the conditions that I referenced earlier.  One of the main issues that I stopped paying rent was because the toilet will not flush. It’s disgusting that the waste just sits there for long periods of time. It smells really bad most of the time. I spoke to my landlord about it several times in the last year, but they haven’t done anything. As a result of the ceiling leaks from the apartment above (I think their toilet and shower leak or overflow), the floors in all rooms are rotting in several places. Water gets everywhere. There is even a section in the floor that my five-year-old fell through. Her foot went right through the floor. It was really scary. I wrote to the landlord about the deplorable living conditions and my daughter’s incident two months ago, but they still haven’t fixed the problems. So, I stopped paying rent. Why should I have to pay to live in a place where my daughter’s foot goes through the floor?

Fortunately, my child was not permanently injured. She fractured her foot, but she is okay now.

My monthly rent is $1,600.  I haven’t made the last 2 monthly payments. 

I can’t believe the landlord wants to evict me because of the what they say is excessive noise. 

Witness 1 Statement-Gerald Whitaker

My name is Mr. Gerald Whitaker. I live in the same building, Building F, as Pat Shepp. We live in a three-story building. I live below Tori. It used to be a nice place to live, but sometimes it gets really loud during the day and night.  Ms. Shepp’ and/or her children are always running around upstairs and I can hear them.  They seem to get even louder at night.  If they had carpet on their floor, I do not think that they would be so disruptive. I reported this to the landlord.

 

 

Witness 2 Statement-Rebecca Whitaker

My name is Rebecca Whitaker.  I live in the same building, Building F, as Pat Shepp. My husband, Gerald, and I live in a three-story building.  We live below Tori. Our apartment is directly underneath Ms. Shepp’ apartment.  We have called the landlord several times to complain about Ms. Shepp and her children walking and running upstairs at all hours of the day and night.

Legal Research Resources – For All Major Projects

The three major projects in this course are closed, meaning that you are required use all of the Legal Research Resources and may not use any other rules, statutes, or cases. When citing cases, cite only the cases included in the Legal Research Resources. Do not cite to any cases discussed in the cases provided. Do not do any independent research – you must work with only what is provided.

Please read and use the following for your Office Memo, Demand Letter, and Memorandum of Law:

Breach of Lease

Brown v. Housing Opportunities Comm., 350 Md. 570, 714 A.2d 197 (1998).

Galola v. Snyder, 328 Md. 182, 613 A.2d 983 (1992).

Bocchini v. Gorn Management Co., 69 Md. App. 1, 515 A2d 1179 (1986).

Md. Code Ann., Real Prop. §8-401:  Nonpayment of Rent

Md. Code Ann., Real Prop. §8-204:  Covenant of possession of leased premises

Pay Rent or Establish Rent Escrow

Neal v. Fisher, 312 Md. 685, 541 A.2d 1314 (1988).

Md. Code Ann., Real Prop. § 8-211:  Duty of landlords to repair or eliminate serious conditions and defects of residential dwelling units

Motion to Dismiss:

Md. Rule 3-311:  Motions

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