An elderly woman from Burlingame, California, who was battling eviction from her home of 60 years, died on March 3.
Marie Hatch, 97, has been living in the cottage for 66 years. Her former landlady and friend reportedly vowed to let her stay in the house for the rest of her life, KPIX reported.
Family friends say Hatch died of natural causes as a result of a severe cold she had for about a week and after a brief hospitalization, reports SF Gate.
According to Hatch’s lawyers, the elderly tenant succumbed from the stress of fighting a legal battle with her landlord.
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Hatch, who also had cancer and had difficulty leaving the house due to agoraphobia, moved into the cottage in 1950 when her landlord reportedly said she could live there for life.
When her landlord, Vivian Kroeze, died, her daughter and granddaughter also lived up to the promise, according to SFGate.
In 2006, the agreement fell apart when Kroeze’s granddaughter was killed by her new boyfriend while she was getting a divorce. David Kantz, the granddaughter’s widower and current landlord, said his wife’s trust was expiring later this year and intends to sell the property, reports SFGate.
On Feb. 11 Hatch and her 85-year-old roommate, Georgia Rothrock, were served with eviction papers, giving them 60 days to vacate the property.
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Both single women said they had no family they could stay with and were afraid of being left homeless because their neighborhood had become exponentially more expensive since they first moved in. Together, the two women paid $900 a month in rent, according to KPIX.
“There is no doubt that the callous eviction of Marie Hatch has caused her death,” said her attorneys Nanci Nishimura and Nancy Fineman in a statement.
Nishmura and Fineman, of the law firm Cotchett, Pitre and McCarthy, are handling the case pro bono, according to Daily Mail.
“The legal battle will continue on behalf of her live-in partner of 36 years Georgia Rothrock, the Hatch family everyone who knew and loved her. Sadly evictions of our senior citizens are epidemic and must be addressed by our society immediately,” the attorneys said.
Kantz says the property was purchased by his wife's family for a few thousand dollars. Now the home's estimated value on Zillow is $1.2 million or $3,200 in monthly rent.
When asked where she'd go if kicked out of her home, Rothrock told KPIX: “I’ll be out on the bus stop bench surrounded by my boxes of my beloved books. And that’s all I can foresee.”