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You’ve got problems. I know you do.

Ever since I started this blog, the complaints have poured in. People wonder how they can stave off rent increases. How to battle their contemptuous, secretive condo boards. How to deal with neighbors whose construction projects are encroaching on their property.

Some of the stories, I get to write about. Some need a new channel. So: I’m starting an advice column. I’ll call the real estate lawyers, dig through the city rules and regulations that you don’t have time to deal with, and weigh in on what’s on your mind (or making you lose it). Please send your stories, inquiries, and rants to:

rsamuelson@washingtoncitypaper.com

Wonderin’ what kind of thing I’m going for? Here are a few tales of woe I’ve heard from co-workers and friends, or, well, experienced myself. For example, how to handle the situation when…

  • Your landlord tries to raise your rent after years of barely responding to services requests, including a collapsed bedroom ceiling which didn’t get fixed for weeks. But your landlord claims he’s within his rights to up the rate, and you’re no saint, having failed to pay your rent on time on several occasions. Is there any way to convince him he’s lucky to have such understanding tenants, regardless of your mishaps, and let you keep your current rate?
  • Your neighbors don’t give a shit about anyone else: They park halfway into people’s driveway entrances. They keep refuse on their porch, which occasionally drifts into your lawn and around the neighborhood. For months, they used a busted trashcan, which leaked foam boxing materials, now whirling around the alley. You stole their busted trashcan. But how can you deal with the continuous onslaught of problems in one fell swoop?
  • Your roommate begs your grouphouse to allow him to “foster” a dog, agreeing that the adoption will be temporary and he will keep the K-9 cordoned off on one floor.  In mere days, he falls in love with the dog, spending nearly every moment with it—except for a few times a week when he’s forced to leave his home office or wants to go out and can’t bring the pet. At this point, the dog goes berserk—after life on the street, it has a number of doggie abandonment issues—barking incessantly and occasionally moving its bowels whenever left alone. Your roommate refuses to ditch the dog or move. Can you make him?

Image by Darkpatators, Flickr Creative Commons Attribution License