Marie Hatch, 97-Year-Old Woman with Cancer, Being Evicted from Bay Area Home of 66 Years
A 97-year-old California woman suffering from cancer is facing eviction from the home she has lived in for 66 years after her longtime landlord died and the property’s new owner ordered her to vacate within 60 days.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports Marie Hatch has lived in a craftsman cottage in Burlingame, 20 miles (32 km) south of San Francisco, since 1950. Her landlady was a longtime friend who, according to Hatch, made a verbal promise decades ago that she could live in the home for the rest of her life.
“She just says I can stay here as long as I wanted to,” Hatch explained to CBS Bay Area. “It’s my home! And I’m comfortable. I’ve been here forever and I love it.”
However, that promise was never written down and David Kantz, the property’s new owner and original landlady’s grandson, has given her and her 85-year-old roommate, Georgia Rothrock, 60 days to move out.
With the average two-bedroom apartment in San Mateo County renting for more than $3,200 per month, Hatch, who along with Rothrock currently pays $900 in rent, said she fears she will end up homeless if evicted.
“I haven’t the slightest idea,” she told CBS when asked where she will go if she loses her home. “I don’t know where I’m going to go. What I’m going to do. I really don’t. Keeps me awake at night.”
“It’s very harsh and very unexpected,” added Rothrock. “I’ll be out on the bus stop bench surrounded by my boxes of my beloved books. And that’s all I can foresee.”
Kantz’s attorney released a statement on Monday insisting he knows nothing about any guarantee allowing Hatch to live in the home for the rest of her life. Kantz told the Chronicle that he feels bad about evicting Hatch but has no choice because of an expiring trust agreement.
“Ms. Hatch is a valued tenant, and accommodations must be made for her comfort and care,” wrote attorney Michael Liberty. “But the landlord cannot bear sole responsibility; the tenant’s family must cooperate in this matter rather than use the media regarding a purported ‘life tenancy.’”
Liberty added that Kantz is “making every effort for Ms. Hatch’s smooth transition into either an elderly facility or to moving in with family members” and that his client is looking for someone to buy the house who would let Hatch stay.
Kantz told the Chronicle that he could get more than $1 million if he sells the home.
“He’s greedy!” Hatch told CBS. “Why does he have to do it this way? Who told him he has to do it this way?”
“I’m old, I can hardly walk, and I don’t have any money,” she told the Chronicle. “Where can I go? I’m going crazy just thinking about it.“
Offers to help Hatch have poured in from around the Bay Area. Attorney Joe Cotchett, who has represented victims in the Bernie Madoff scandal and the San Bruno gas pipeline explosion, is representing her pro bono. Cotchett told the Chronicle that he believes Kantz must honor the verbal agreement between the former landlady and Hatch.
“That woman will not leave her house,” he said.
Nancy Fineman, one of Cotchett’s partners, visited Hatch on Monday and told the Chronicle that she believes the woman may be entitled to relief under wrongful eviction laws.
“We will get the oral contract enforced,” said Fineman. “People think they can’t enforce an oral agreement, but they’re wrong. When you see this house and you meet Marie, you can see there is a lot of love in that house. Fulfilling the promise of being able to live there for life is not charity, it’s the honorable thing to do.”
Meanwhile, a GoFundMe campaign set up by Hatch’s friends has raised more than $32,000 since it was launched on Monday.