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Landlord-tenant dispute involves long-time verbal agreement, P.1

Housing is one of the largest expenses most people have to deal with. For those who are young and healthy enough to be working and earning money, increases in housing costs can be challenging, but something can be done about it. For the elderly and those on fixed incomes, though, increasing housing costs can be an insurmountable challenge.

A recent case case highlighting the problem is that of an elderly California woman who has been living in the same home for 66 years, and whose current landlord is now attempting to evict her, despite her reliance on a promise that she could stay there as long as she wants.

In a suit filed by the woman’s attorneys, the landlord has been accused of breach of contract, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and elder abuse. As to the first claim, her attorneys say there was a verbal contract with the previous owners who promised the woman would be able to remain in the home until her death. That promise was passed from the owner at the time the woman arrived at the property when she was young, down to the owner’s daughter and granddaughter. The current landlord claims, though, that no such agreement was ever made.

As to the intentional infliction of emotional distress claim, the elderly woman suffers from agoraphobia and the fear of being evicted has apparently caused her sleep to suffer and has brought on panic attacks.

Both the woman and a housemate who sublets from her are on fixed incomes from Social Security. In her case, the income is around $14,000 annually. And while her rent has been about $960 per month, the average rent for a single bedroom apartment in her county is over 2.5 times that amount. In other words, she simply would not be able to afford a move.

In our next post, we’ll continue looking at this case and why it is important to work with an experienced attorney when landlord-tenant disputes arise.

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