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Aspen Legal

How much would you pay to see your worst enemy shake with anger, squirm in court and lie under oath?  Turns out it only cost $1200.

We got to "live the dream" yesterday as our adversary and former landlord, a wealthy, argumentative, prune-faced old lady and her dimwitted third husband did all of the above  at the Pitkin County Courthouse.   The Judge handled the simple but emotionally charged tenant/ landlord dispute with aplomb.

Moving Day after 5 Years. Click 2 enlargeAspenSpin used to HQ in a cute little miners cabin by the river in Oklahoma Flats.  Built around 1900, its small, private, secluded with a yard, 500 feet of frontage on the river and a view of Ajax. For 5 ski seasons starting in 05/06 ending in 09/10 (last year) we called it home. Of historical significance; Little River Cabin was the birthplace of AspenSpin and a former brothel. The pint-sized but super-sweet lot may have fetched as much as $5 mil at the peak of the real estate market in 07.  The tiny 2 bedroom, 2 bath house is a complete tear down--no question about that.  As you may recall, A-Spin has a very well behaved dog and lots of ski gear.  Each Fall, just after labor day,  we'd move into the little cabin by the river and move out at the end of April. The owner would occupy it in the summer. We paid well in excess of $100,000 in rent over the 5 seasons.  It was expensive, the house was a dump.....but it was within walking distance of Ajax and we we loved it.

Artist Rendering.The owner/ landlord is a poor little rich girl (old lady) called Denni Riker, a prominent business woman on the front range.   Her Daddy bought up a whole bunch of property in Aspen in the 50's during the quiet years.  Denni and her clan receive the rent checks from one of the most valuable, most high profile retail buildings in Aspen, which has a cost basis of "two bottles of whiskey". She controls several properties in town. She's known around Aspen as a hard nosed biatch. She's had several well documented conflicts with neighbors around Oklahoma Flats as well as some controversial run-ins with Aspen City Hall and City Planners.  As neighborhood legend has it Denni would steal plants from her neighbors, at night, and re-plant them in her own garden (hearsay, not admissible).  Remember when a certain someone was running for Mayor and gave a false address in order to qualify for the election.  Who do you think the owner of that false address is?  (objection, irrelevant). Some people  just don't think the rules apply to them. She's a very sad old lady, a hag if you will.  One well known neighbor described her this way: "She's like a tar baby---u don't want to touch her".

After 5 years of tenancy, A-Spin must have somehow rubbed Denni the wrong way.  It was "all good" for the first 4 years.  We paid the rent, Denni stayed in Denver.  It was the 5th year where things went awry.  A "simple" remodel of the premise by the owner led to construction nightmares for the tenant, repeated unlawful entries by the landlord and her agents,  threatening e-mails, hand delivered nasty grams and general ill will.  AspenSpin was under siege from a 70+ year old lady  WTF?  We simply wanted to pay the rent and live the dream. It seemed like Denni  wanted us to suffer for her problems.

Artist RenderingYada, Yada, Yada.  He said / She said.  Verbal sparring with "the dufus" her hubby, Wally.  The whole conflict led to a lawsuit in small claims court.  Trial by ambush.  Denni was seeking several thousand dollars in damages to her house.  Damages that just didn't exist in real life. More bickering occurred...this time in front of a judge.   It all came down to the carpeting.  Denni claimed the carpet was ruined (not true) and  she claimed it was new in 09 (not true). It was the same carpet that had been there since 05. Our defense of "normal wear and tear" over a 5 year period was countered by a bold faced lie about the age and value of the carpet.  In reality the damages were minimal. Throw in a few other miscellaneous charges (yes, i did put a 3 inch scratch in the floor and  yes, i did put one nail in the wall)   Yada, Yada, Yada.  One year later,  a court summons and three special round trip rides from Denver for Denni and Wally leading to a full-on trial ---bada bing, bada bong.......$1200.  $500 (really?) for the scratch and the nail,  $600 (really?) for the carpet cleaning and repairing plus $100 in fees. 

A. Party went sans lawyer so the costs to play DEEEE-Fense were minimal.  My case was clear, concise and well documented with photos.  Most of Denni's claims were shot down and the judge scolded her on several occasions.  When she started to shake, turn red and spout harshities in my direction it was worth the $1200 just to see it live.  If Wally would have keeled over in court, I wouldn't have been the one to dial 911. So take your 1200 bucks Denni.  Run, run, run across the street to the bank. Deposit that check ASAP.  Keep your 30 staplers and your 6 wheel barrels and your stolen shovel collection and your broken fax machine from 1985 and your 40 year old chairs and your pilfired shrubs and stick 'em up your tight surgically modified A$$.

Note: Tenant, expecting a battle escrowed enough rent to cover the security deposit, therefore the $1200 was a reasonable witholding over 5 years.  Waaaaaaaaay less than claimed by Landlord.

If you're reading this Denni, and I know that you are.  I hope you're happy.  I hope that the $1200 satisfies the void in you and your desire to inflict pain on anyone who doesn't cede to your wishes.  Was it worth it? a scratched floor? a, nail hole? and a big fat lie about your sh*tty carpet. The hate?  the animosity?  the private investigator? the unlawful entries?  P.S. my dog is a way better person than you are.  Sure, I would have preferred to pay nada, but that $1200 won't even cover my bar bill at the club. You were spanked.

#winning.  Who's your daddy?


 The House is a dump, the landlord a "psycho", the view and the setting....amazing.We trashed the place. See that stain in the carpet? $600. It was worth it.

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Reader Comments (1)

I lived there in 1986. What a great setting. Cold ass cabin with a great fireplace. Magical on the river. She wasn't so crazy then, though I believe she's older then 70's. This was before the McMansions. Her father won the place in a poker game or bought the property from someone else who won it... . Time to move on.

April 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMartin Horowitz

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