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Woman Renting Garage with No Plumbing, Evicting Tenant (video)

A heated dispute arose between Edward Williams and his landlord, Josephine Higgins, over an illegal dwelling situation. Williams claimed he was forced to move out by the Buildings Department due to the illegal status of the apartment he was renting.

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He sought a refund of $4,500 for nine months of rent. Higgins countered that Williams was secretly living in a garage meant for storage. This case highlights significant issues regarding illegal housing and tenant rights.

The Plaintiff’s Claim

Edward Williams, the plaintiff, asserted that he was unaware of the illegality of the dwelling when he rented it.

He paid $500 a month from April 2018 to December 2018, amounting to $4,500. Williams argued that because the apartment was illegal, he should be refunded the total rent paid.

The Defendant’s Defense

Josephine Higgins, the defendant, denied the allegations. She claimed Williams was living in a garage intended solely for storage and that she was unaware of his living situation until the Buildings Department intervened.

Higgins maintained that she did not owe Williams any refund because he had already utilized the space.

Living Conditions and Legal Implications

Williams lived in a shanty attached to the garage without basic amenities like plumbing or a bathroom. Such conditions are why renting out these spaces is illegal.

The lack of facilities highlights the unsuitability for habitation and the legal framework aiming to ensure livable housing.

Previous Incidents and Legal Actions

Higgins had a history of similar violations. She had been reprimanded by the city’s housing authorities for renting illegal apartments.

Despite past warnings, Higgins continued renting out the spaces, leading to repeated interventions by the Buildings Department.

Courtroom Proceedings

During the court proceedings, it was revealed that Williams was well aware of the illegal status of the dwelling. The judge noted that Williams had indeed received value from living there and thus was not entitled to a refund.

The court emphasized that the law does not support reclaiming rent paid for an illegal dwelling if the tenant knowingly lived there.

Outcome of the Case

The court ruled in favor of the defendant, Josephine Higgins. The judge determined that Williams, despite living in substandard conditions, was not entitled to a refund.

The decision was based on the principle that knowingly living in an illegal dwelling does not entitle one to financial compensation post-occupancy.

Broader Implications

This case underscores the complexities surrounding illegal dwellings and tenant rights. It highlights the responsibilities of landlords to provide legal and habitable living conditions and the risks tenants face when residing in unapproved accommodations.

The case also serves as a reminder of the importance of reporting and addressing illegal housing to prevent similar disputes and ensure safe living environments.


Edward Williams’ attempt to reclaim rent for an illegal dwelling was unsuccessful, as the court ruled in favor of Josephine Higgins.

The case draws attention to the broader issues of illegal housing and tenant protections, emphasizing the need for adherence to housing laws to avoid such conflicts.


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