97-Year-Old California Woman Fights Eviction From Her Home
(ABC News) — A 97-year-old California woman is fighting a 60-day eviction notice from the home she has lived in more than two-thirds of her life.
Marie Hatch moved into her home in Burlingame, California, around 1950, her attorney, Nancy Fineman, told ABC News.
The two-bedroom, one-bathroom cottage she now shares with an 85-year-old roommate was owned at the time by Vivian Kruse, a friend who Hatch says made her a promise that she could live in the home for the rest of her life.
When Kruse died in 1980, her daughter, Beatrice, kept her mom’s promise to Hatch until she died in 2005, according to Fineman. Hatch’s cottage, along with the home next door, then became the property of Beatrice’s daughter, Pamela.
The two homes are now in the hands of David Kantz, who was at one point married to Pamela and assumed ownership upon her death in 2006, according to Fineman.
Hatch was not available for comment. She and her roommate, Georgia Rothrock, pay Kantz around $900 each month in rent.
The pair received a 60-day eviction notice from Kantz on Feb. 11.
“She’s distraught,” Fineman told ABC News of her client, whom she says has agoraphobia and rarely goes outside. “She speaks very fondly of Vivian and Beatrice and Pamela and doesn’t understand why somebody would want her to leave her house.”
Hatch has one son who lives in an apartment and is not in a position to take in his mother, according to Fineman, who along with a colleague, Nanci Nishimura, is representing Hatch pro bono.
“I don’t know, I don’t have the slightest idea where I’m going to go, that’s why I don’t sleep at night,” Hatch told ABC station KGO-TV in an interview that aired Monday.
The attorney says they are “exploring all legal options” to keep Hatch and Rothrock in the home. Rothrock, according to Fineman, also has limited options for other housing.
“We think there’s an enforceable oral contract and we’re taking steps to make sure that contract is enforced and Marie can live there for the rest of her life,” Fineman said.
Kantz could not be reached by ABC News. His attorney, Michael Liberty, said in a press release that Kantz has no “personal knowledge” that a guarantee ever existed.
Liberty states his client’s trust requires the property be sold this year. He also contends that Kantz took steps like retaining realtors who offered to help relocate Hatch, meeting with city officials and trying to work with potential buyers of the property to allow Hatch to stay.
“Although the landlord has reached out to Ms. Hatch’s family members, those members contacted a lawyer instead of taking actions to relocate Ms. Hatch,” the statement read.
Neighbors have started a GoFundMe page to help Hatch. The page has received more than $39,000 in donations so far.
Fineman says she is not aware of efforts made by Kantz or Liberty to reach out to Hatch or family members.
“No one has told us that they were contacted by the landlord,” Fineman told ABC News. “There is a valid contract to let her stay in her home for life. For her to move now would be devastating.”