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Any GOOD Attorney's?

Does anyone know of a good attorney? I'm about done with PR, I really am. Stress, stress and more stress since we got here. Many of you know how my landlord has ripped us off and we haven't had any luck finding at least a 4 bedroom that works for my kids on the island. We're going to see a house in the morning but at this point I'm considering going back to the states, I know I won't have to deal with things like this.

So I've requested that my landlord send me a court summons because I'm tired of his harrassment. I didn't think he would do it simply because he has no evidence that he made any repairs. And I have all the evidence in the world, including evidence of his wife illegally going through our mail (which we still haven't gotten our holiday cards).

Anyway, back on topic, he summons me to "Tribunal Primera Instancia"; apparently different than US courts. Now I'm realizing what his end game may be. Taking me to an all Spanish court it seems. I'm sure the judge will speak English, however, I'm not familiar with the particular laws of this type of court, such as where to send my answer or if an answer is even required because it had no information on the summons regarding it.

Attorney's I have reached out to thus far all want money before talking about anything. Another thing I"m not used to. His attorney isn't very good as it is, I don't want to actually hire someone worthless.

Any recommendations?

I had an excellent experience with Carlos L. Gonzalez-Reyes. 787-792-9070
#1010 Roosevelt Ave 00920 near big mall.

Regarding my recommendation... he gave us very good advice, and notarized a couple of documents, spent 40 minutes with us; charged us 40$ for notiary services.... but not for advice. So I'm sure you can ask for consultation. He is no nonsense common sense man. Good luck

A good solo practitioner or small firm lawyer is very hard to find, even more so in PR.

Also keep in mind that, unlike 49/50 US states, PR is a civil law jurisdiction, so it's much harder to self-represent.

NomadLawyer, why does that make it harder? I've noticed some unnecessary difficulties, but just wanted to pick your brain a bit.

And thanks PattiAnn! I'll give him a call.

Wow, I'm so sorry, Chris, that is has gotten this bad for you.  I sincerely hope you can find resolution and whatever happens that you and your family find happiness.  Wishing you all the best!

chrishamrick103 :

NomadLawyer, why does that make it harder? I've noticed some unnecessary difficulties, but just wanted to pick your brain a bit.

I have been tempted to stay out of this, because this is a rather complex issue, and I have neither the information nor the expertise to give advice.  So, in great part my advice is to consult a good local attorney with expertise in landlord/tenant disputes.  The best source for attorney listings, as already posted in another thread is Martindale.

You may find an attorney willing to give you a few minutes to discuss your dispute.  More than that will require you to retain his or her services.  You will pay for the representation.  You may find that the cost of legal representation is greater than the matter in dispute.  In that case, you either settle the dispute privately (simply pay it) or represent yourself  (the legal term is pro se).  But as NomadLawyer pointed out, PR is a civil law jurisdiction, which complicates matters.

Your question on why it makes self-representation harder is not an easy one to answer, but I'll try and make it brief and simple.  A civil law jurisdiction is decidedly "rule bound".  Everything is strictly codified, and courts may not deviate from the codes.  As a result, your ability to represent yourself would have to be written into the rules of procedure -- it is not assumed.  In our common law system, courts have a good deal more discretion in how they settle disputes.  Don't get me wrong, our courts are still charged with adjudicating the law.  But our courts are largely guided by precedent, and so the parties at suit have the opportunity of arguing case law to support their claims.  And the court has the opportunity to apply precedent in previous cases to current disputes.

I'm not really in a position to give you specific legal advice.  In the first place, I don't know the dispute.  Second, I don't know PR landlord/tenant law.  Third, I don't know PR judicial process.  Here in Virginia, I am a landlord and a professor of politics, so I know something of courts (though my focus is constitutional law), and something of Virginia process and law.  I've represented myself in court on a number of occasions.  I have watched many people make the attempt to represent themselves.  It is embarrassing when they are put in a situation that is entirely foreign to them.  They have no idea what to say, when to say it, or how.  This is a recipe for disaster. 


"Any man who represents himself has a fool for a client."

I am not a lawyer and can not give advice on the mater. Based on what I have heard it mostly goes by the signed contract and most contracts are written to benefit the landlord.
Your court costs, lawyer, loses incurred, may or may not be refundable even if you win, as to punishing charges to the landlord above that will depend a lot on how good of a lawyer you have.

Regardless of how things work out, I hope you do not leave the island, your experience with this landlord is not typical, many other Expats have rented with zero difficulty in the past. You ran into an asshole of a landlord.

By the way you may be running into a racist landlord, if so, I hope the judge nails his butt good. I wonder if the previous tenants (I think you spoke with them) would be willing to enter a written statement of their experience with the landlord and if it would be accepted as testimony by the judge.

Thanks for the replies everyone. I studied business law in school so I have a slightly above average understanding of things.

So, if I'm understanding correctly when everyone talks about it being civil, is that they will strictly go by the law, and it is what it is. In addition to that, Rey you are correct about the flexible landlord-tenant laws in PR. They are based on the lease agreed upon by both parties. There are about 4 or 5 laws of the land pertaining to the issue. Off the top of my head I can remember a few: 1.landlord must give receipts (he didn't) 2. landlord must give enjoyment and peace to the tenant, etc. something like that, and some other very basic rules. Nothing major.

With that said, it would seem as though despite what I can prove outside of the lease, they may not listen and since most leases are biased to the landlords I'm screwed.

Thankfully everyone in my transaction was a snake. The landlord as well as his broker. She put together a lease for him that was COMPLETELY biased toward the tenant... which he failed to read obviously. That's why i signed it. I had never seen anything so gracious before. The only thing that was a gotcha on my part was there were no time frames specified as to how long he had to make repairs with the exception of issues pertaining to habitability. If there were issues pertaining to that, the lease is instantly void and I don't owe rent for the time of it being unlivable. THAT is my defense. I have proof of it having structural issues, rodents and SEVERE mold. The lease was even kind enough to give some examples of what being unlivable is (structural issues, aka leaks.) Even if the judge wanted to be on his side and say rodents or mold don't matter. The landlord was fine with me breaking and not paying. It was until I put our agreement in formal writing in certified letter that he got angry and retaliated by disabling our gate access without notifying us. We just came home one day and couldn't get in.

He is suing me for past rent due + attorney fees. Which Rey, you are also correct. We didn't have a clause that states attorney fees could be recouped, so both of us will be out of that.

I'm going to see what this will cost me for an attorney, but frankly, I could go and lose and still appeal and win later. They can sue me in this local PR court all they want. I don't speak Spanish so I have no idea what's going on which violates my constitutional right to Due Process. So whether PR local court respects that law or not. US court will and should overturn it if I lose anyway. But who wants to go through all that? This is ridiculous!

And yes Rey, we are leaving the island. We've literally scoured the internet for rentals. It's hard to find 4+ bedrooms and if you do find some, finding some in good condition is even harder. If they are in DECENT shape, they want 3K+ per month! I can go back to Atlanta or the DC area and get a fantastic house for that. We have literally looked at over 50 houses. Looked at one today, terrible. Wife is calling about another tomorrow, whatever, I'm over it. We would only do a 6 month lease if we did find something nice, but I'm doubting we will.

I don't think this guy is racist, just a jerk; but check this story out, i almost came on here to vent about it but decided against the self-pity. But two weeks ago we found a house that another member here was renting (we almost bought their truck unknowingly, small world!) anyway, we loved the house. 5 bedrooms, huge covered terrace, football field of a backyard for the kids to run and play, fruit trees, well water in Aguada, all appliances, AC in every room, close to the beach and for $800 per month.

The owner flat out says, "I don't think people like you will take care of my house." People like us? What do you mean? People with exceptional references? People with the money to pay up the lease up front (which i wouldn't have done). People with good credit? People who offered to put custom screens in the house, a new washer and dryer and ceiling fans and said you could keep them? Oh wait I know, you mean BLACK people, oh I get it thanks. So yeah, had to explain that one to my 14 year old daughter because she was confused on what the lady meant. Needless to say, I'm done with PR. My old landlord wants to call her; I told him not to worry about it, her loss.

Moved here just to move it all back, even bought a car. I lost a tremendous amount of cash, but do have the experience and know this is not a place for me. It's beautiful here but I have a hard time not taking wrongs done to my family personally. Treating people badly just makes no sense to me. Treating babies badly is just inhumane.

Oh! And I do have the previous tenants info, but I don't think I'm going to reach out. I do have references from our old landlords. Well, waiting on one more, funny thing is, he's a judge! Judges usually hold the weight of other judges, but again, this being a civil situation might not, but regardless, I should have no problems winning. Whether I get all of what I'm counter-suing for... eh, I doubt it. I would get more in US court though!

Well sounds like a done deal, if you can, please PM me or the forum about how it went in court.
Sorry you and your family ran into these issues, it is not common otherwise we would have heard from others with similar stories.

You are right that 4+ bedroom houses are not common, few people can afford making them and if they do extensions to their home, they are done adhoc with little planing.

Sorry to see you go.

Will do Rey! At least this is something to add to the books of experiences. It also could possibly be a sign of the times. I suspected before I even came things would get worse on the island with money being so tight and more "gringos" coming to the island the culture would get shaken up.

As I really came to understand it, the Act 20/22 is amazingly discriminatory. You don't qualify if you lived here 6 years prior to the law being initiated.... well that rules out almost all natives!

Anyway, thanks for all the help everyone. I'll check back in and let everyone know what happened. As annoying as it is, I am thankful if I do decide to concede (which I don't want, this guy needs to be taught a lesson), I have the money to pay it and a plan to recoup. Just hope the plan works out.

Hey everyone! I go to court in the morning so we'll see how it goes. I'm pretty stressed about it and look forward to the day I can be over all of this. Got some shipping quotes to go back to the states and it's a lot cheaper than when we moved here.

I did go speak with an attorney after I noticed this was an entirely different court system in Spanish. It wasn't much help and I haven't heard anything from them and court is in the morning. However, she did help me realize one thing. In our agreement it stated that if any problems were to arise that we agree to settle it in the Superior Court of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico in San Juan or an applicable federal U.S. court. Soo..... yeah. I gotta say the thing that stresses me about this the most is how bad of a job they're doing. I'm wondering if they're all friends with the judge? Which still won't matter because I'll just appeal it very easily... I don't know what the heck to expect tomorrow. If it looks like what it is and they're just doing a horrible job it should just be funny, but any way I look at this I cannot for the life of me see their angle on why they think they'll win.

Anyway, mind has been cloudy all day, will report back on what happens. I suspect dismissal without prejudice. We'll see though.

Good luck!!!!

So i got it rescheduled at another court, but I have to say... the experience wasn't that great. I really didn't like the way we were being treated by the judge. Very condescending and wouldn't even look at my evidence. Spoke very kindly to the snake of an attorney they had though. Also told me I had to get my own interpreter for the next court date, but was informed by someone I trust here on the forum that Superior courts supply the interpreter for you.

Anyway, the attorney I met with (need one now due to an incident AFTER court...) wanted $2,500 for preparation and to show up to court today. Court today took an hour and fifteen minutes, and they called me yesterday at 3:30pm about taking the case....

They said that the $2,500 covered 25 hours of work. I'm no rocket scientist, but let's say they got off the phone at 3:30 and got to crackin and didn't sleep at all, just straight worked through with no breaks..... 3:30pm - 9:45am is a lot less than 25 hours.

So... any other recommendations for an attorney?

What is your next court date?
A legal trick sometimes played is to cause reschedule after reschedule to raise the legal cost of the adversary in the hope they will settle. Watch for that.

ReyP :

What is your next court date?
A legal trick sometimes played is to cause reschedule after reschedule to raise the legal cost of the adversary in the hope they will settle. Watch for that.

I don't have a date set yet. They're trying to get the case heard in Spanish court. So that's their trick.

I'll ask my attorney if she can recommend someone in Dorado.

mac00677 :

I'll ask my attorney if she can recommend someone in Dorado.

Thanks! Or San Juan that's fine too. Anywhere in the area.

Are you still looking for an attorney?

Yep. Not sure I trust the last one I've consulted with.

I used Felix Fournier 787-604-5279 to handle my real estate transaction. He was very thorough and professional. He even filed the CRIM on my behalf. I presume he has a good working knowledge of landlord/tenant relations, considering he is a very experienced Real Estate attorny, but that's a presumption. His charge was very reasonable, much less than I paid my attorney who handled my RE transaction here in Georgia, and he really didn't do jack.

lgustaf :

and he really didn't do jack.

LOL, that's been my experience with "professionals" all too often! But thanks! I'll give him a call today.

I was just wondering how did things turn out for you? Any updates you care to share?

It's been a while. Basically "Life" itself looked out for me. I spoke with an attorney friend of mine from Maryland. She walked me through my options and I realized that the entire thing was going to cost me regardless. I refused to give this issue another dime or minute of my time.

So what ended up happening is I have no idea! That's right, I don't know what happened because I ignored it. The date got changed, his attorney filed to have it changed AGAIN, didn't serve me any paperwork as he should have and I don't know what happened after that. My attorney friend in Maryland said that I should report him because she's never seen such corruption from an attorney! But I don't think the Commonwealth will do anything about it anyway. She said I can have him audited but so what to a crooked system?

Anyway, a new law was filed saying judgements can't show up on credit anymore back in June 2017 I think? And in April I had a judgement pop up due to the attorney's in Atlanta not paying my property taxes from the house I sold last year.... yep! So that was another fight I was getting into but lo and  behold, this new law went into effect and it cleared itself off my credit so.... The taxes were eventually paid, but they paid right after the judgement so...

Basically, the guy screwed me over and got a villa half furnished for free. I'm thinking this was his plan all along. I ended up talking to the previous tenant there and he also made improvements to the villa and left on bad terms with the guy. He didn't seemed bothered too much though, he just took it as life on the island.... not me. I got my family out of that place and off the island. Everyone's happy now but I still can't believe the type of people I experienced... Never seen such bad behavior toward people, let alone small children in my life!

I urge you to file a bar complaint if warranted. Bad attorneys need to be disciplined.

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