Lawsuit puts renter in doghouse
ASPEN Even a dog needs references to get housing in Aspen.To rent Lora Lewis’ Gibson Avenue home from December 2004 to March 2005, Andrew Moszynski agreed to have his Jack Russell terrier’s toenails clipped, the rugs and furniture steam cleaned for $5,000, and even provide references for the pooch, according to a letter from the rental agent, Five Star Destinations.The letter is one of many exhibits to a lawsuit Lewis filed against Moszynski in July 2005 in Pitkin County District Court. The suit has lingered ever since, and is scheduled to go to trial in February. Lewis, who was aiming to sell her 935 Gibson Ave. house, had such rigid rules because she was trying to keep the 7,000-square-foot home in prime condition, said her attorney, Matt Ferguson. That’s why she did not want the dog in the house, which commanded a rent of $125,000 for the three-plus months. “They begged my client to have the dog stay,” Ferguson said.But Moszynski’s time in the house resulted in property damages of more than $15,000, Lewis’ lawsuit alleges. The dog, however, was not the culprit, Ferguson said.”Most of the damage was not from our canine friend, it was by our human friends,” Ferguson said. “We’re alleging damage to the floor, to the fireplace and to some marble tables.”A letter of notification from Five Star Destinations to Moszynski is a laundry list of destruction, from six wine glasses valued at $110 each to $899 for replacement of 100 wooden hangers missing from the master bedroom, as well as big-ticket damage to new wood floor, allegedly from shoes and boots.In a response letter to Five Star Destinations, Moszynski said the house was inspected at the end of his stay and he’d agreed to a few of the items on the list – some of the floor scuffs and damage to a fireplace – but he denies a number of the alleged damages.Moszynski, meanwhile, has filed a counterclaim against Lewis, alleging that he is entitled to the $30,000 deposit he put down before leasing the home. Moszynski was not available for comment.Under a rule designed to level the playing field and protect underprivileged renters from exploitation by powerful landlords, Moszynski is asking for $90,000, triple his initial deposit, Ferguson said.”This statute does not apply to him,” Ferguson said, citing Moszynski’s address in ritzy Greenwich, Conn. “My client is the underdog, not him.”Lewis obtained the house in a divorce proceeding. She tore down the original log home and built a spec house she planned to sell, a source of vital income, according to Ferguson.And keeping the house in mint condition was part of the deal with Moszynski. Lewis since has sold the property, Ferguson said.Charles Agar’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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