A 97-year-old woman in Burlingame, California, received an eviction notice from her landlord after living in her former friend's cottage for 66 years.
Marie Hatch was told by her former friend and landlord, Vivian Kruse, she could live in the house for the rest of her life, KGO-TV reports.
Hatch described what her friend had told her all those years ago: "Marie, this is your home. You can live here as long as you want to. She was a tough old crawl, but when she said something she meant it."
After Kruse died, her daughter renewed and continued the promise until she also died. Then, her granddaughter renewed it again, but was murdered by her boyfriend in 2006 while she was going through a divorce, SFGate reports.
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At that point, in 2006, the property was taken over by David Kantz, the husband of another of Kruse's granddaughters. That granddaughter since died and Kantz is the current landlord.
Kantz said he has great sympathy for Hatch's situation, and part of the reason he is evicting her has to do with troubles of his own. He said that his late wife's trust is due to expire in the summer, and that he has a duty to handle the property on behalf of his sons. According to his attorney, his wife's will states that the property must be sold this year.
Hatch and her roommate, 85-year-old Georgia Rothrock, have been given until April to move out of the cottage. Hatch says she may wind up homeless if evicted, as housing prices in San Mateo County are incredibly high. Her current rent is $900 but the cottage is on the market for $1.2 million.
Hatch's friends have started a GoFundMe account in support of her, and had raised $23,000 for her by Feb. 23.
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Democratic State Rep. Jackie Speier held a town hall meeting on Feb. 22 to discuss the situation for tenants in San Mateo County. Most of California's municipalities do not have rent control laws in place, which tenant advocates have been pushing for, to prevent situations like Hatch's.
Jay Cheng, deputy director of governmental affairs for the Association of Realtors in San Francisco, said:
“The real problem here is that there is a housing affordability crisis across the state. It’s about people not having enough places to live, so we’re fighting over very small scraps of housing. A lot of landlords are more concerned about having a good neighbor, not necessarily making a lot of money. It’s not just a case of landlords versus tenants.”