(WSVN) - They gave a landlord $6,300 to rent an apartment, but he decided to block them from moving in and refused to return their money. Why? It started when he said they were gypsies, beginning one very strange Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
Remember that line, don’t try this at home? This is it.
Mary Pat Letourneau: “I primarily specialize in contortion and pole.”
Andrey Moraru: “And I specialize in hand balance, dance, character work.”
When you watch Mary Pat and Andrey perform, don’t be surprised if you catch yourself saying, “How can they do that?”
The couple got a job to perform in Miami Beach and moved from Kansas City. Their first priority was finding an apartment to rent.
Mary Pat Letourneau: “Just a gorgeous atmosphere, like there’s this beautiful courtyard with all these trees.”
They gave the Realtor a $6,300 deposit and signed the lease.
A couple of days later, the landlord texted them.
Andrey Moraru: “Then the landlord tells us he wants to meet us to show us around, and he wanted to have a real talk with us, so when we read that part, ‘real talk.’ my alarm bells went off a little bit.”
They met the landlord. If you think Mary Pat and Andrey’s performances are incredible, they say, you should have seen the show their landlord put on.
Andrey Moraru: “He tells us, ‘I looked up your bloodlines, and it turns out you have gypsies in your lineage.'”
They were speechless. He wasn’t.
Andrey Moraru: “‘Because the reason why I’m saying this is because there’s a gang of gypsies, criminals, gypsies who are out here in Miami, involved in human trafficking, drug trade, murder, you name it.'”
They asked why he would think they were gypsies or associating with human traffickers. He replied…
Andrey Moraru: “‘Because you’re performers, and that’s what gypsies do: they perform around the world, they steal money, they kidnap people, they sell them into slavery.'”
Mary Pat finally had enough.
Mary Pat Letourneau: “I started laughing, and he was like, ‘This is not funny.'”
The landlord told them he didn’t want them living in his apartment and to send him an email to get their money back. They did, writing they all agree to terminate the lease.
Andrey Moraru: “‘I thank both of you for admitting your dishonesty and for admitting being affiliated with criminal gangs of gypsies.'”
That’s not what they said, but the landlord told them he was keeping their $6,300.
Mary Pat Letourneau: “I just felt the ground was ripped up underneath my feet.”
It brings up the question, can a landlord keep your deposit after accusing you of being a gypsy?
Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “Not only does this landlord have to return their deposit, he might also be liable for punitive damages because of racism. When you accuse someone of being a gypsy, you are targeting a specific ethnic group. Legally, it’s like calling someone the N-word, and by refusing to rent to them, you are violating the Fair Housing Act, and it is an easy case in court to win.”
I spoke to the landlord. He denied ever calling Mary Pat and Andrey gypsies.
I then pointed out his email where he said, “Thank you for admitting your dishonesty in connection with the gypsy gang.”
He told me, “That’s not calling them gypsies. It’s thanking them for admitting they’re connected to gypsies.”
He said, while he thinks legally he could keep their $6,300, he did promise me he would give the money back … if they signed an agreement not to sue him.
Mary Pat Letourneau: “No, we are not gypsies.”
Mary Pat and Andrey came to South Florida to perform. They never expected the twists and turns from simply trying to rent an apartment.
Mary Pat Letourneau: “We want our money back and an apology, too, like, this was extremely disrespectful.”
They won’t get an apology, but if they sign that agreement to not sue, the landlord says they will get their money back. They told me they’re thinking about signing it. We will keep an eye on it and let you know what happens.
A problem got you twisted in knots? Tired of taking a tumble? Unwind with us, and see if we can flex our legal muscles, if Howard can find them.
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