OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Last month, several families had to leave their homes with just a few hours' notice when the city deemed their apartment building unlivable. Now they’re demanding the landlord pay for their lost money and lost peace.
Dave Pantos, a local lawyer, is working pro-bono with three of the tenants right now and says others may be joining them soon. Pantos is currently running for Douglas County Attorney.
On Wednesday, he sent a letter to William Stanek, the landlord of Flora Apartments, demanding payment for the tenants' "unjustly collected" rent, safety deposit, moving costs, attorney fees, and for the pain, suffering, and medical costs they've endured.
It’s been almost a month since they left the building that was said to be unsanitary and dangerous. Many are still staying in hotels and haven’t seen a dime of their rent or deposit returned.
Pantos says one client was forced to pay rent in advance for February.
"I think he knew he was going to get shut down, and he went around trying to collect rent," Pantos said.
Together Omaha stepped in when the tenants were told they had to leave to provide hotels and help them find new housing.
But even with that assistance, living in a hotel and finding a new home is costly, not to mention replacing everything they had to leave behind.
Along with these costs, Pantos says Stanek should also pay for the mental and physical damage he says Stanek caused.
"Whether through bites from bed bugs or rodents or cockroaches, extreme cold, the threats associated with the lack of security," Pantos said.
The lawyer is giving Stanek a chance to settle this out of court, to get help for the tenants faster.
"I have clients who have urgent financial needs, so it’s to their benefit to get a quick resolution," Pantos said.
But he says if Stanek has not replied by March 1, a lawsuit will be filed, and he believes the law is clearly on his side.
“This is what the statute’s written for," Pantos said. "To protect tenants from these kinds of situations.”