A Marine veteran, Joseph had fallen behind on his rent due to unemployment during COVID. The parent of a 4-year old, Joseph took his young son for a visit to his parents, making the best of difficult times. When he returned to his apartment on Friday, May 8, he discovered he had been locked out by the landlord. The following Monday, Joseph reached out to Lone Star Legal Aid for help. By Tuesday, LSLA had filed for a writ of re-entry with the Justice of Peace, which was heard that same day by phone. The judge granted the writ of re-entry and a constable served it on the landlord the next day.
When the property manager let Joseph back into his unit, he discovered the landlord had taken all of his guitars and music equipment, claiming an alleged landlord’s lien on the items. One of the guitars was a gift from Joseph to his son – and now it was gone. After doing some investigation, LSLA’s Nick Whitaker determined the landlord did not have the right to assert a landlord’s lien in this case. Whittaker then filed a lawsuit in district court for monetary damages for the illegal lockout and filed a temporary restraining order (TRO) demanding the return of Joseph’s items.
The day before the TRO hearing, the landlord called to settle. He agreed to return all of Joseph’s belongings and let him stay in his apartment through the end of June, forgiving all the back rent in exchange for dropping the lawsuit. Joseph agreed to the terms and received his guitars and electronics back in good condition. He can now move forward with his life – without any rental debt – and no eviction on his record. “I am so appreciative of all the work Nick and the whole LSLA team did to help me,” shared Joseph. “He listened to my issues and kept me informed – all while getting things done very quickly. I couldn’t be happier with the service I received. Thanks, Lone Star Legal Aid!”