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Legal nightmare over rented room

For 15 years I had rented rooms in my house in Calif. I’d had some bad tenants, but eventually they would move out. Enter Sharon [in 2001?] who would NOT. (She had a legal aid lawyer.) I called my lawyer friends, paralegals, landlords, and the courthouse. Eviction services wanted $500 to evict her and paralegals wanted $25 to fill out each form, so I tried to do it myself. I began the clerical ordeal of serving Sharon with different notices (on obsolete forms as it turned out), running from post office to courthouse to copy place to home to read the LANDLORDS LAWBOOK. (All this over a rented room?!)

I learned the court had to ‘file’ some forms, ‘conform’ others, and ‘enter’ others, and all of them had to be typed in black ink. No one doing this the first time could avoid mistakes. I ran around filling out a ‘complaint’ and went through the tricky business of serving her with it. She didn’t respond in time. Ah ha! I ran in to file a ‘default,’ which would win the case. I was elated. But wait; something was wrong with my paper work. Her lawyer filled a ‘demurrer’ later that day; and, I was not only back to square one, but liable for her lawyer’s fees!

Now I had to get a lawyer. He told me her lawyer was a zealot, this could go to a jury trial (over a rented room?!), I couldn’t cut off Sharon’s cable hookup, phone, etc., and, if I locked her out, she could sue me to the point of my losing my house! If I won my case and the Marshall came to put her out, she could declare bankruptcy. Then I would have to pay $600 for a ‘lift of stay’ to get her out. Every time I turned around she had more rights, I had nightmares. (Who wrote these laws!) (What if Sharon was a criminal and moved some thug into her room and I had a wife and kids in the house?)

After three and a half months of this, she moved. Throughout she had a free lawyer, I didn’t. She could sue me. I couldn’t sue her cause she would disappear. If I did and won, I wouldn’t get anything cause she didn’t have anything. She gained about $l000; I lost $1400 (on a $200/mo. room). She and her lawyer made my life miserable; I couldn’t touch them. It cost me great amounts of time and anguish; it costs them little.

What was the point? The legal aid lawyer didn’t benefit her by helping her cheat a landlord, earn a bad credit rating, and lose an inexpensive room.

The laws regarding rented rooms are senseless, petty, unfair, and ridiculously technical, time-consuming, expensive, and reduce the amount of affordable housing. They coddle cruel tenants and persecute and endanger landlords. Once this happens to you, you lose respect for those laws and will fear the law and tenants the rest of your life.

Hopefully other states and countries are not drowning in legal marathons. Our laws should be simple, sensible and fair. When a landlord wants to evict someone from his home, the legal part should be handled in a few hours by a qualified, private arbitrator, and not cost over a week’s rent.

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