|Marie Hatch, 97, who has lived in the same San Francisco|
Bay Area house for five decades faces possible eviction
because her landlord wants to sell the house and
make more than $1 million. Landlord claims he's
bound by estate rules.
Marie Hatch's friend and landlord, Vivian Kruse, told her decades ago Hatch could live in the cottage until she died.
Now Kruse is long dead, so is her daughter, and granddaughter, who reported all made a verbal agreement to let Hatch stay at the house until she died.
When the granddaughter died, the final woman in the chain, the verbal agreement to let Hatch stay ended, says her current landlord, David Kantz. He had been married to the granddaughter, Pamela Kantz, until their divorce. Then Pamela Kantz's boyfriend murdered her.
Now, the house where Hatch lives is worth $1.2 million at least, thanks to the skyrocketing rents and property values around the Bay Area that has made the region unaffordable except for the very rich, according to the article that brought this to our attention in the San Francisco Chronicle.
Hatch, who is retired from a bakery and also has cancer, is not rich. So out she goes. The landlord, David Kantz has to take advantage of the high property values after all. You can't let an old lady get in the way of that!
Though maybe Hatch won't go so fast, despite David Kantz's wishes.
Kantz says his hands are tied and has to sell the house and evict Hatch. He said a trust left behind by his wife expires in July, so he is duty-bound to sell the property on behalf of his two sons, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.
Says the Chronicle:
"'We have come to this unexpected confluence of events, and I am responsible to do the best I can for the beneficiaries, - my sons,' said Kantz.......'I just kind of inherited this property and the assumptions that weren't really written down, and now I have to unwind it.'
He said that family lore does indeed contend that his wife's grandmother, Vivian Kruse, told Hatch she could stay for life, 'but there's no contract. There's nothing in my wife's will that directs me to do anything other than what is best for the beneficiaries.'"
"I feel bad for the elderly lady, I feel bad for my sons, I feel bad for me" Kantz said.
Yeah, but you'd think he could find a way to benefit without kicking Hatch onto the street. The whole things still smells like a cruel money grab to me.
After news of this situation broke, people did step in to help, as they always do.
According to an update article in the San Francisco Chronicle:
"Some people offered to pay Hatch's rent at a higher rate, some volunteered legal help, and a few even said they would buy the house from her landlord so she could stay - a remedy the landlord's attorney said he is exploriing.
Friends of Hatch started a GoFundMe account and by Monday evening it had raised more than $13,000."
The Chronicle also reported a high powered attorney, Joe Cotchett, stepped in to advocate for Hatch and says the verbal contract that kept her in the home is legally binding. The plan to kick her out is unlawful eviction, he said.
So it's beginning to look like the solution to the more outrageous excesses against people - bad press against the perpetrator - is working in this case, too, and Hatch will probably end up staying where she is.
However, renters in general are kinda screwed in the San Francisco Bay area, and elsewhere. True, most landlords are not ogres, and it's mostly not the fault of landlords that rents have gone sky high. There's lots of economics at play.
But a few landlords are awful, and even for the vast majority whose landlords are nice people, they still can't afford housing.
Only 12 of 482 municipalities in California have rent control, the Chronicle says.
Another big part of the problem is supply and demand. A lot of people want or need to live in the Bay Area, and in other hot spots in the nation. But there's not a lot of places to build more housing, and people understandably want to keep some open spaces and not fill every last grassy or forested patch with apartment buildings.
San Francisco and other municipalities are toying with increasing allowable housing density so that more apartments are built.
But this will take time. And so we might see the spectacle of other elderly people kicked out to the street, or threatened with it, because certain landlords prefer people who can pay outlandish rents.