Stambro v. Holmes, C.A. No. JP16-20-005004

CourtCourt of Justice of Peace Court of Delaware
Writing for the CourtHutchison, J Montano, J Wilson, J
PartiesMARISSA STAMBRO & DAVID STAMBRO, Defendants Below/Appellants, v. PAULA D. HOLMES & MCCLENNON R. HOLMES, Plaintiffs Below/Appellees
Decision Date26 February 2021
Docket NumberC.A. No. JP16-20-005004

MARISSA STAMBRO & DAVID STAMBRO, Defendants Below/Appellants,
v.
PAULA D. HOLMES & MCCLENNON R. HOLMES, Plaintiffs Below/Appellees

C.A. No. JP16-20-005004

JUSTICE OF THE PEACE COURT NO. 16 OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE IN AND FOR KENT COUNTY

February 26, 2021


TRIAL DE NOVO

Case Heard: February 26, 2021

ZOOM-BASED APPEARANCES:

Plaintiffs Paula and McClennon Holmes appeared pro se.
Defendants Marissa and David Stambro appeared pro se.

ORDER

Hutchison, J

Montano, J

Wilson, J

Page 2

On February 26, 2021 this Court, consisting of the Honorable Cathleen Hutchison, the Honorable Alexander J. Montano, and the Honorable Kevin L. Wilson acting as a special court pursuant to 25 Del C. § 5717(a)1 convened a trial de novo2 in reference to a Landlord/Tenant Summary Possession petition filed by Paula D. Holmes and Mc Clennon R. Holmes ("Plaintiffs"), against Marissa Stambro and David Stambro ("Defendants"). At the conclusion of trial, the Court announced its decision entering judgment for the Plaintiffs. This is the Court's oral decision reduced to writing.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs filed a Landlord/Tenant Summary Possession petition on July 2, 2020 seeking unpaid rent, court costs, and possession of the rental unit located at 1532 Spider Web Road, Felton, Delaware. Trial was held on January 21, 2021 and a judgment was entered in favor of the Plaintiffs.3 The Defendants filed a timely appeal on January 25, 2021 and a trial de novo was held.

TESTIMONY OF PARTIES

The Plaintiffs testified both parties entered into a new month to month rental agreement on January 20, 2020 for the aforementioned property at a rate of $850.00 per month. As of today, the Defendants owe past due rent in the amount of $16,401.50, which includes the entire month of February 2021. The Plaintiffs attest they sent the Defendants several demand for rent notices, two of which were returned because they were refused by the Defendants.4 Plaintiffs are now concerned the rental unit has experienced damages after the renovations to the unit, that trash will need to be removed, and they would like all of their keys returned to them. Plaintiffs are being further financially strained for every day the Defendants remain in the rental unit.

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Plaintiffs further testified they have tried to work with the Defendants in the past when they fell behind on rent in 2019. That all parties signed a Promissory Repayment Agreement for Past Due Rent but now even that debt remains unpaid.5 Lastly, Plaintiffs attest Defendants are finally in receipt of their October 6, 2020 Demand for Rent letter, and presented proof of mailing that someone at the Defendant's household signed receipt of the letter on October 7, 2020.6 The following Plaintiffs' Exhibits (Pl. E.) were entered into evidence without legal objection from the Defendants7:

Pl. E. #1: Attachment #1, Concise Statement of Facts

Pl. E. #2: Attachment #2, Month-to-Month Lease Agreement, signed January 20, 2020

Pl. E. #3: Attachment #3, Demand for Rent Letter & 60-day Notice dated February 25, 2020 with proof of mailing returned "unclaimed"

Pl. E. #4: Attachment #4, Demand for Rent Letter, dated March 10, 2020 with proof of mailing returned "unclaimed"

Pl. E. #5: Attachment #5, Demand for Rent Letter, dated May 11, 2020

Pl. E. #A: Demand for Rent Letter, dated October 6, 2020 with proof of mailing signed/received on October 7, 2020.

Pl. E. #B: Envirocorp Laboratories, Inc., Ground Water Analysis Report "Acceptable", dated January 15, 2020.

Pl. E. #C: Promissory Repayment Agreement for Past Due Rent in the Amount of $5,730.00, signed on November 17, 2019

Pl. E. #D: Affordable Home Repairs, Water Treatment Description of Work Log, ticket #141533

Pl. E. #E: JB Willimon Inc.'s Work Completion Summary dated February 3, 2021, with proof of mailing signed/received on February 17, 2021.

Page 4

The Defendants testified they have had complications with the Plaintiffs from the beginning of their landlord/tenant relationship. That because the house did not have a fuel tank, the Plaintiffs told them to go out an acquire one. However, after reaching out to multiple companies, they learned that the property owners pay to install them and the renters are then required to keep the tanks full. The Plaintiffs responded in kind by offering the Defendants electric heaters.

The Defendants also disagree with the Plaintiffs' list of completed work because the projects have not been finished.8 As a result their belongings remain packed up in a corner of the living room. The floor is damaged and buckling everywhere, the water is dirty, the kitchen cabinets remain without doors, and the Defendants were the ones who replaced the water heater. The following Defendants' Exhibits (Def. E.) were entered into evidence without legal objection from the Plaintiffs:9

Def. E. #1: 7 images of the following: several images of "dirty" water in containers, portable heaters, cabinets without doors, area with "missing fuel tank", belongings stacked into the corner of a room.

Lastly, the Defendants stated they have already moved out anyway, that they just have a few more things to clean out and that they will be leaving the keys on the counter.

DISCUSSION

Through the testimony of both parties, it is undisputed that a month-to-month landlord/tenant relationship exists between the parties. The Defendants also did not dispute the past due rent amount. Instead, the Defendants,...

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