Former Legal Aid Client Studies Pre-law at John Carroll University
Kimberly Chester was shocked when a bank representative told her that her rental property was about to be foreclosed – after all, she had just sent in her rent check. But the landlord was pocketing her money instead of paying the mortgage. Ms. Chester stopped paying rent and was served with an eviction notice. Well aware of the national foreclosure crisis, she wondered, “You always hear about home owners. What about the tenants?”
A mother of three children, now ages 13, 15 and 17, Ms. Chester was juggling a job, family and an education at John Carroll University. “I was put into a situation where I am trying to go to school and I have an eviction notice and nowhere to go. It’s hard when you’re out there living in poverty and there are situations where people will not help you. But you have to be persistent,” Ms. Chester explained. Faced with the threats of homelessness and being forced to drop out of college, Ms. Chester called Legal Aid. “I always knew that there was The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland. I knew they helped individuals even if you didn’t have enough money.”
When the case came across the desk of Legal Aid attorney Ed Gregory, he took action to obtain justice for Ms. Chester. Representing Ms. Chester, Mr. Gregory was able to have the eviction thrown out. “Mr. Gregory was very kind, concerned and professional. He helped calm the situation and kept saying, ‘We have to follow the law here’,” Ms. Chester stated. In addition to arguing the landlord’s breach caused the loss of the subsidized rental payments, Gregory argued that the landlord had filed the eviction notice under his name and not the name of the limited liability corporation that appeared on the lease that Ms. Chester had signed, thus challenging the validity of the eviction notice, a fatal flaw in the eviction process.
Ms. Chester continues to live in the rental property. A senior at John Carroll, Ms. Chester is preparing for law school. She proudly notes the changes in her own children’s study habits – once reluctant to hit the books, they have begun to follow their mother’s example: “I tell them, education is like a candy store where you can try any kind of candy you want. Go ahead, try a saffron-flavored one – you may like it.”
Ms. Chester recently volunteered for Legal Aid as an intake worker at a Brief Advice and Referral Clinic with John Carroll alumni attorneys, saying, “I want to help others.”