A 97-year-old woman facing eviction from her Burlingame home filed a lawsuit against her landlord for breach of contract, elder abuse and intentional infliction of emotional distress Friday.
Marie Hatch, who has lived at her California Drive cottage for 66 years, claims she was promised by three generations of family members who own it that she should could reside there until she died.
She was sent a notice to vacate earlier this month by attorney Michael Liberty on behalf of his client David Kantz, who claims to own the house.
“An oral contract is just as enforceable as a written contract,” attorney Nancy Fineman said at a press conference Friday. She was flanked by another attorney, Nanci Nishimura, and Hatch’s roommate of 32 years Georgia Rothrock, who must also vacate the property. Fineman and Nishimura, with Cotchett, Pitre and McCarthy, are taking on the case free of charge.
Hatch had been promised that she could live in the house for life based upon a decades-old contract with Vivian Kroeze but the estranged husband of Kroeze’s granddaughter, Kantz, started eviction proceedings just after the holidays.
Hatch did not attend the Friday press conference because she was home resting in bed. She suffers from agoraphobia, cancer and other ailments and does not like to leave her home.
“She wants to stay there until she takes her last breath,” Nishimura said. “You shouldn’t have to go to court to get a contract enforced. A promise is a promise.”
Hatch and Rothrock pay $960 a month in rent. Rothrock said at the press conference that she subsides on $100 a week.
The lawyers said too that Kantz has not offered any relocation assistance to Hatch as reported and that he also does not own the house.
The house is owned in the name of Pamela Kantz, who was murdered in 2002. Although the legal title is still in her name, the woman’s former husband has been collecting rent from Hatch for more than 10 years, according to the lawsuit.
Hatch’s story has spawned an outpouring of support from around the world. A gofundme page has already raised more than $45,000 to support her.
The attorneys, however, said Hatch appreciates the support but that the main goal is that she allowed to stay in her home “as guaranteed.”
Hatch and Rothrock, 85, must vacate the premises by April 17.
Both tenants depend solely on Social Security income to pay their rent
“To try to put these women out on the street in total disregard of the promise made is despicable,” Nishimura said.
Through a press release issued by Liberty, Kantz disputes whether the agreement with Hatch and Kruse ever existed and intends to carry out the eviction.
Kantz is willing to give some consideration to the tenants, according to the press release, including offering to work with the potential buyers of the property to see whether Hatch can stay in her home or, if necessary, negotiating a relocation assistance package with the help of city officials.
But Hatch’s attorneys say Kantz has not reached out to her directly.
Neither Kantz nor his attorney could be reached for comment Friday.
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