J. Alexander Properties is a Property Managment company in San Antonio run, owned and operated by Julie Alexander. In January 2016, J. Alexander Properties leased a home to a divorced mom with two teenage girls and a dog. The house was the newly divorced mother's first home after her marriage ended and at the time, she shared joint custody of a dog. When J. Alexander, or Julie Alexander, prepared documentation of the lease, she never followed up on the Pet Agreement addendum to the lease.
When the new single mother of two moved in, the hot tub that was advertised as a major feature of the property, did not work. It did not heat or move water at all. So the new tenant asked about getting it repaired by text and was told not to text anymore. This came AFTER the two had texted on dozens of matters up to that point. The tenant paid over $800 to have a new pump put in the spa and the San Antonio property management company, J. Alexander Properties, refused to reimburse the tenant. Of course the spa didn't work at all on move in and it was heavily advertised as a key feature, but J. Alexander Properties would not reimburse the nearly $1000 repair.
At that point the tenant contacted an attorney and sent a DTPA demand letter. J. Alexander Properties and Julie Alexander then agreed to reimburse the expense. But then the tenant did the unthinkable.
Her teenage and daughter and friend were in the hot tub and found that if you stood outside the spa and touched the water, you could feel a small electric shock. So the tenant notified Julie Alexander of J. Alexander Properties in San Antonio, Texas that there was some kind of electrical shock that occured. J. Alexander Properties agreed to send out an electrician and indicated she would be making an inspection of the property.
Julie Alexander of J. Alexander Properties then came to the home and inspected the house. She discovered that there was a cat upstairs and she took a picture of it. She then used her attorney to advise the tenant that she was in violation of the lease agreement and was asked to voluntarily leave the property. The attorney gave the tenant roughly a week to vacate the home.
The tenant did not voluntarily leave and it is important to note that the lease does allow eviction for breach of the pet agreement but this goes back to the dog. Since there was no pet agreement addendum, there was never any formal designation of any pet on the property. The tenant did pay a pet deposit so when J. Alexander Properties and Julie Alexander of San Antonio arrived at the home that day, there was nothing to hide and nothing unusual about the cat being there. The dog ended up at the ex-husband's home and was not at the property and the cat came over instead. The lease did not say cat, dog, frog or billy goat. It said nothing about any pet and since there was no pet addendum, the lease was entirely silent on the issue of pets, what pets, how many pets, the kind of pets or the interchange of pets.
Unless you are a vindictive landlord intent on retaliating against a tenant for actually wanting to be reimbursed for a major repair and for having to deal with a potential electrocution issue.
So that little visit by J. Alexander Properties and Julie Alexander of San Antonio happened in July. September rolled around and the single mom teacher had met every lease payment on or before the 4th of each month by directly paying J. Alexander Properties through Wells Fargo Sure Pay. In September, the payment was attempted but did not go through. The tenant noticed that the payment had not processed and she then made the payment by the 8th of September.
Up to that time, neither Julie Alexander or J. Alexander Properties or her attorney or anyone else made any contact with the tenant about why the rent was unpaid. Of course that is the natural response of any management company or landlord after 8 timely payments. "Heh, what happened to the September payment?" But not here.
Neither Julie Alexander or J. Alexander Properties texted, telephoned, emailed or came by in persone. What J. Alexander Properties did do in violation of Texas Property Law was file an eviction suit for non-payment of the rent. J. Alexander Properties actually received the payment in their account before the eviction suit was served on the tenant. So in a normal landlord tenant relationship, the landlord would be satisfied that the rent was paid and go about their business.
But this was not a normal landlord tenant relationship or a normal property management tenant relationship. As an afterthought, Julie Alexander for J. Alexander Properties also included the phrase "Unauthorized Cat" in the eviction suit. She did not ask for any penalties, fees or attorneys' fees.
Instead of being satisfied with a timely paying tenant who kept an immaculate house, Julie Alexander and J. Alexander Properties went forward on the eviction lawsuit in late September 2016. J. Alexander Properties hired an attorney, Jimmy Carter of Langley & Banack in San Antonio. Jimmy Carter presented the case for eviction solely because of the alleged unauthorized cat.
Yes, the management company, J. Alexander Properties was trying to evict the tenant over a cat that was observed at the inspection. Legally, however, there was no basis in law or fact to grant the eviction because the eviction was brought in the name of the management company, J. Alexander Properties and not the actual landlord. This will be continued...