Skip

Want to Live Rent Free? Get sick.
July 20, 2001 2:01 AM   Subscribe

Want to Live Rent Free? Get sick. What is a landlord to do when they have the legal right to evict a tenant, follow all of the legal procedures to evict a tenant, and then the judge forces them to allow the tenant to stay, rent free, for an unspecified length of time? How is it that this man's landlord suddenly has to pick up the slack/cost left by government sponsored social services, at a steep personal cost?

At what point do you become responsible for other people's survival?
posted by kristin (41 comments total)

 
"The family has been searching for a different apartment, Phillips said, but none has been found in a price range the family can afford."

Free apartments are pretty scarce these days.

Anyway, if the government demands that the people not be evicted, the government should have to foot the bill. Then everyone would share the burden.
posted by pracowity at 2:11 AM on July 20, 2001


If he could damage his liver, maybe he could get free cable.

"Your Honor, my children shouldn't have to endure the trauma of looking at my yellowing skin. Three HBOs and the SCI-FI network would spare them this, but that cheap bastard of a landlord will only pay for basic."
posted by dong_resin at 3:01 AM on July 20, 2001


oops. accidental apartment fire.

now everyone has to move out.

(hmm... that was unnecessarily cruel and machievellian. i must be ready to become a member of the american justice system... wow.)
posted by jcterminal at 3:45 AM on July 20, 2001


It is an unfortunate situation for certain. But I don't see how a judge can force a landlord to house the family rent free. I agree with pracowity here. If the courts can rule that they stay, then the courts should be coming up with the rent check.
Ahh the pitfalls of being a landlord.
posted by a3matrix at 4:21 AM on July 20, 2001


Sounds like it's not even a case of just paying the rent: the woman who owns the building is converting it to condominiums... Hopefully, this will be one of those cases where publicity like this brings a Samaritan out of the woodwork whole have someplace for the family to live.
posted by m.polo at 4:44 AM on July 20, 2001


Hmm.. so if the court has the authority to enforce humanity and compassion and all that, why not get the Cigarette Companies to provide all the smokers with free patch kits and have them create a plan where if there is proof of body damage due to smoking, the company pays the bills. They sure as hell can afford it.

And yes, I think the Judge wasn't at all right, what should have happened is he was supposed to have went to the system and gotten these people their Section 8 housing relief, he could have even helped them move. I imagine someone that needs a heart transplant better not lift heavy objects.

Is this even constitutional?
posted by tiaka at 4:46 AM on July 20, 2001


I wonder when they will start making people with big houses take in the unfortunates of the world. I can see them walking through the house now.

"We can squeeze a few in here, some in the room across the hall, and oh yeah before I forget. What time is dinner?"
posted by a3matrix at 5:22 AM on July 20, 2001


Is this even constitutional?

I don't know whether it's constitutional, but given the Supreme Court's recent history of rulings on property rights, it seems likely that the landlord could sue the government for some of the lost rent as well as any diminution in the value of her property for not being able to sell a condo unit.

And of course, the Virginia legislature could pass a law either limiting the grounds on which a judge can stop an eviction or mandating government restitution.

Of course, in a more compassionate society, this gentleman and his family would be provided for by the state, and this ruling would be unnecessary. I agree that it sucks for everyone, and that the landlord should be compensated, but if it comes down to choosing between her losing her ability to make big bucks off a condo conversion and him and his family ending up homeless, I think I'd choose to inconvenience her.
posted by anapestic at 5:59 AM on July 20, 2001


"I understand their situation and feel bad for them, but I have bills to pay, too," Boudreau said.

their apartment building was sold and their rent jumped from $200/week to $1,300/week this spring

uhhhh....does anyone else see how these two statements don't quite fit together? It seems to me that the landlord is being particularly greedy here, and I don't feel sorry for her at all. This man is dying, he can't get work, and his wife works at a convenience store.

The fact that the landlord wants to make these apartments into condominiums (for personal profit) has caused her to raise the rents (again $$$), and thus forces this family into a situation where they can no longer pay. So, in a way, the landlord has no one to blame but herself. I, for one, am glad that the judge had the courage to stand up to this cold-hearted money-grab on behalf of a terminally ill man.

I have little sympathy for those whose greed destroys the lives of others. However, I also think that the government can't just stiff the landlord. It is still her property. I think the fair thing to do in this case is to have the tenants pay the original $200/week rent until they can find someplace else to live.
posted by thewittyname at 6:24 AM on July 20, 2001


After hearing this story and seeing Pacific Heights I will never be a landlord. Too many problems.

And if I did become a landlord, I'd never let anyone who even looked like Michael Keaton be my tenant.
posted by brucec at 6:33 AM on July 20, 2001


My mom recently rented her house to a nice seeming family. Then they stopped paying the rent. Then they refused to let real estate agents show the house to potential summer renters.

We took them to court to evict them. This took several months and cost several thousand dollars in court fees. The outcome? The judge ordered them to leave ON THE LAST DAY OF THEIR LEASE.

Granted, we're in Massachusetts, where the real estate laws are very liberal and biased towards tenants. But frankly, this was outrageous. These people had no plans to pay us at all. They trashed our house and lived rent free for 3 months (in a beautiful, new beach house on the water).

This is an amazing scam and I can't believe more people don't do it. Want to score? Stop paying rent! You'll probably get a few free months out of it, and you'll cost your landlord big bucks in legal fees.
posted by preguicoso at 7:03 AM on July 20, 2001


thewittyname: i agree. if the landlords could get by with $200/mo. rent, it seems to me the added $1100 they get per apartment would be well enough to handle this one tenant for now.
posted by moz at 7:05 AM on July 20, 2001


The apartment is next to the beach, and the rent jumped in springtime. That's pretty standard operating procedure for beachfront rentals.
posted by hazyjane at 7:20 AM on July 20, 2001


thewittyname: You, ah, may want to slap a tourniquet on that bleeding heart while everyone else tries to survive in the real world. As soon as laws mandate kindness, we're in big trouble. I'd be happy to stay for free in your basement, however.
posted by Electric Jesus at 10:20 AM on July 20, 2001


Is this even constitutional?

I believe there is a precedent. May I refer you to the case of Gordon v. Miller, judges Marx, Marx and Marx presiding.
</levity>
posted by sj at 10:24 AM on July 20, 2001


I smell more than a hint of gentrification angst on the Judge's part. All the more reason for a jury trial perhaps.

I don't see this as being as outrageous as some of you make it out to be. If you consider they've already applied for section 8 and have no where to go its not a bad decision on the Judge to let them stay.

It will be a bad decision if the landlord sues the state for back rent and doesn't get it, but the mentality of "pay me now and get rid of this damn dying man so I can finish my condo" is more than I can take.

Ideally, they'd be evicted and if they couldn't find a place to stay then they would end up in a shelter. But what if the father died in the shelter because of the move it would put our health and social system into perspective - get sick + can't work = death.
posted by skallas at 10:31 AM on July 20, 2001


I agree: the judge should order the family to pay the $200/month and continue looking for a new place; and the landlord should just eat it. she bought the place to convert to condos, obviously she's looking at a substantial profit when she does that.

that rent jump is outrageous, even for a winter/summer conversion. I suspect she raised the rent to get rid of them in the first place, so that she oculd remodel or whatever and then turn the property at a profit.

she can wait a while longer.
posted by rebeccablood at 11:08 AM on July 20, 2001


get sick + can't work = death

I think you mean get sick + can't work + didn't buy health insurance + never saved money + expected govt. to do #3 and #4 on this list + pretend charities don't exist + refuse to live with other family members = death

that rent jump is outrageous, even for a winter/summer conversion

That jump is certainly in line with anywhere that has a large summertime vacationing population. When I rented in southern Rhode Island, the cost went from $400 a month to $1000 a week during the summer.

This ruling makes a mockery of property rights and tramples all over the freedom of the apt. owner.
posted by ljromanoff at 12:06 PM on July 20, 2001


As soon as laws mandate kindness, we're in big trouble.

Electric Jesus,

I'm sorry, should the laws be cruel or apathetic instead? Hmmmmm...I could have sworn that trying to make the world a kinder, gentler place was a small part of the philosophy of your namesake.

Would you really try to evict a man with a terminal illness, a minimum-wage earning wife and some kids? It should be obvious that the landlord is being motivated out of greed, jacking up the rents and selling of the apartments.

Anyway, your apathy and disdain is horrifying, and your attitude does nothing but perpetuate a status quo that is blatantly unfair. And sure, life isn't fair, but if you won't work to make that statement just a little less true, then the word compassion just doesn't apply to you. (And maybe that suits you just fine, which is nothing but sad.)

Of course its easy for me to say that the landlord should cut the guy some slack, its not my money after all...but I would let the guy stay for the $200/week. Some money is better than none at all, and I could look at myself in the mirror as well. Thus, capitalism and compassion do not have to be mutually exclusive.

Greed leads to cruelty, cruelty leads to local news coverage, local news coverage leads to metafilter flame posts
posted by thewittyname at 12:13 PM on July 20, 2001


ljromanoff: I think you mean get sick + can't work + didn't buy health insurance + never saved money +

you know, if you make little enough, saving and buying helath insurance are just not options. not every job offers health insurance, you know, and if you make little enough, your choice is between food and health insurance. I'm speaking from experience.

expected govt. to do #3 and #4 on this list

there's no evidence that this is true: I never expected that.

+ pretend charities don't exist

getting help can be more difficult than you realize. when I was just scraping by, I didn't ask for help because I could - barely - support myself. when I needed help, I found that I usually made a little bit too much to receive any.

in any case, there's no information here to suggest that this family is rejecting help from charities.

+ refuse to live with other family members = death

not everyone has family to turn to.

it's not all black and white, you know?
posted by rebeccablood at 12:24 PM on July 20, 2001


it's not all black and white, you know?

I'm well aware of that, but it's not as simple as 'get sick, can't work, then die' as has been suggested.

There's really not enough in this article to know what the full situation is here - but it would not surprise me if these people had a lot of other options and simply took the easy one, namely, stop paying rent and refuse to move. They obviously have at least one close friend (quoted in the article), they can't stay with him for a while? They can't send the kids to live with a grandparent or aunt or uncle? Why did they pick a beachfront house when there are thousands of rentals available in the Seacoast region of NH that would cost much less?

Was this really their only option? I don't know, but I doubt it.
posted by ljromanoff at 1:08 PM on July 20, 2001


Anyway, your apathy and disdain is horrifying, and your attitude does nothing but perpetuate a status quo that is blatantly unfair. And sure, life isn't fair, but if you won't work to make that statement just a little less true, then the word compassion just doesn't apply to you. (And maybe that suits you just fine, which is nothing but sad.)

Yes, Electric Jesus, you must be compassionate or we shall call you names!
posted by kindall at 1:10 PM on July 20, 2001


Incidentally, I'm VERY surprised no one has pointed out that NH's state motto is "Live Free or Die."
posted by ljromanoff at 1:31 PM on July 20, 2001


Why did they pick a beachfront house when there are thousands of rentals available in the Seacoast region of NH that would cost much less?

much less than $200/mo???????
posted by rebeccablood at 1:34 PM on July 20, 2001


And it was $200 a week, not $200 a month.
posted by ljromanoff at 1:40 PM on July 20, 2001


I'm sorry, should the laws be cruel or apathetic instead?... Would you really try to evict a man with a terminal illness, a minimum-wage earning wife and some kids? It should be obvious that the landlord is being motivated out of greed

thewittyname: Though you raise a valid point, laws *must* be essentially apathetic (or put another way, neutral and objective). I'll agree that, assuming the tenant truly has no where else to turn, what the landlord is doing is cruel, unjustified, and shameful. It's a terrible act. However, who gave you (and I) the right to impose our will on others? Does the fact that I feel that something is wrong entitle me to enact a law (or enter a judgement) against it?

Our society is based around rights and responsibilities. As a society, we have made a deliberate decision NOT to force everybody to be responsible for everybody else. Aside from the practical considerations (things flat work better when self-interest is in play), there's the normative one: *forcing* people to "be good to one another" is WRONG. You can't force morality.

You illustrate a common flaw I've seen routinely in liberal thinking: Liberals generally begin by determining what should/should not occur, and they often get that part right. But then they go on and assume that because they (the individual) feel that it should occur, the government has a right to MAKE it occur. That's incorrect.

Once you allow the government to encroach on your rights for any reason, no matter how noble, you open the door. And that door is not easy to shut. Remember, well-meaning liberals aren't the only people who can sit in the judge's bench or make laws.
posted by gd779 at 1:43 PM on July 20, 2001


As a LONG-time renter in many locations, I'll say this: the landlords get 95% of the breaks. So if one landlord has to shell out to help out someone, tough bounce. They don't like being in the people business, they can always invest in the internet or toxic waste industries.

People get sick. When they get sick long-term, they get poor. With everyone kicked off welfare, including people who genuinely need it -- and the only solution offered is work -- someone has to pick up the pieces of this fateful decision. Of course the judge could have thrown the lady out in the street to let her die. Is that how things should work ??? Or isn't it "A Wonderful Life" after all, Mr. Potter?
posted by Twang at 1:49 PM on July 20, 2001


But then they go on and assume that because they (the individual) feel that it should occur, the government has a right to MAKE it occur.

But in a democracy, the majority of us have decided that at the very least a portion of our incomes should pave the roads, keep the power on, pay the cops, and to help our fellow man through "rough spots". It's not specifically stated in the constitution - so what? We've grown up since then.
posted by owillis at 1:56 PM on July 20, 2001


It's not specifically stated in the constitution - so what? We've grown up since then.

Your casual disregard of some of the greatest political thinkers of the millennium is mind-blowingly arrogant.
posted by ljromanoff at 2:02 PM on July 20, 2001


owillis:
Your analogy is no good. Roads etc are for the good of the general welfare and the funds for them are taken from a large body, namely, the tax-paying public.

In this case, an individual must provide for the welfare of one family.

It's apples and oranges.
posted by sonofsamiam at 2:09 PM on July 20, 2001


I think you mean get sick + can't work + didn't buy health insurance + never saved money + expected govt. to do #3 and #4 on this list + pretend charities don't exist + refuse to live with other family members = death



That's being pretty presumptious. In the article is says they live very near the hospital and that's the main reason they want to stay in that area. Obviously he has *some* if not lots of support to pay for his hospital bills. Not to mention the point I was making was about the stress of relocation and what would happen if the patient die mid-move or shortly after and how that event would play ethically, in society, the media, etc.

Lets get off the "anyone poorer than x deserves everything they get" right wing nuttiness. Poverty is bit more complex than "no strong work ethic" bullshit.

BTW, LJR our "greatest political thinkers" were echoing enlightenment philosophers with their rhetoric and acting like english nobility with their ideas about land holdings, slavery, voting rights, etc. Yes, we have grown and change be it social or legal (think amendments) are a good thing. Why do I feed the trolls.
posted by skallas at 2:12 PM on July 20, 2001


Your casual disregard of some of the greatest political thinkers of the millennium is mind-blowingly arrogant.

The constitution is not the word of god. It is changed and modified through laws and amendments as the framers intended. Hyperbole as usual, huh?
posted by owillis at 2:16 PM on July 20, 2001


That's being pretty presumptious. In the article is says they live very near the hospital and that's the main reason they want to stay in that area.

As a former resident of that area, I can tell you that Hampton and Exeter aren't all that close. There's most likely plenty of apartments even closer than their current one if they need to be very close to the hospital.

Lets get off the "anyone poorer than x deserves everything they get" right wing nuttiness.

Hey, if I ever make that statement maybe you'll have a point then.

LJR our "greatest political thinkers" were echoing enlightenment philosophers

Yes, I'm well aware that Jefferson et al. were influenced by Locke and others. However, they weren't "echoing" anybody.

The constitution is not the word of god. It is changed and modified through laws and amendments as the framers intended. Hyperbole as usual, huh?

Well, when the amendment is passed that allows the government to force one citizen to fund the living arrangements of another citizen you let me know.
posted by ljromanoff at 2:28 PM on July 20, 2001


Why do I feed the trolls

Because you enjoy making ad hominem attacks on those with whom you disagree?
posted by ljromanoff at 2:29 PM on July 20, 2001


I don't like this USENET style back and forth, but do you even bother to read your own posts?

I think you mean get sick + can't work + didn't buy health insurance + never saved money + expected govt. to do #3 and #4 on this list + pretend charities don't exist + refuse to live with other family members = death

If this isn't a "he gets what he deserves" stance, I don't know what is.
posted by skallas at 2:51 PM on July 20, 2001


I think you mean get sick + can't work + didn't buy health insurance + never saved money + expected govt. to do #3 and #4 on this list + pretend charities don't exist + refuse to live with other family members = death

If this isn't a "he gets what he deserves" stance, I don't know what is.


Try keeping in context. That was a response to your oversimplification, not to this person's particular circumstance - a fact, I might add, you would know had you read everything that I wrote.
posted by ljromanoff at 2:57 PM on July 20, 2001


Because you enjoy making ad hominem attacks on those with whom you disagree?

Triumph the Insult Comic Dog: "No, no... it's too good."
posted by owillis at 3:08 PM on July 20, 2001


, I might add, you would know had you read everything that I wrote.

Oh jeez this is getting ridiculous. The rest of that post is about summertime rates and I'm not willing to sift through everything you wrote again to somehow be convinced that you really didn't write about the justification of punishing the poor.


As far as the troll comment, I calls em like I sees em.
posted by skallas at 3:34 PM on July 20, 2001


Oh jeez this is getting ridiculous. The rest of that post is about summertime rates and I'm not willing to sift through everything you wrote again to somehow be convinced that you really didn't write about the justification of punishing the poor.

Well, if you're going to generalize and misrepresent what I wrote, maybe actually reading would be the least you could do.
posted by ljromanoff at 4:00 PM on July 20, 2001


"Roads etc are for the good of the general welfare"

there are people feel that the lot of their fellow man, of their neighbour, affects their own 'good' - their own mental health for example. "general welfare" is kind of an abstract concept. doesn't general welfare also include the welfare of the individuals?

"and the funds for them are taken from a large body, namely, the tax-paying public.In this case, an individual must provide for the welfare of one family."

point taken. the landlord is being forced to give charity, and no one likes to be forced against their will.

but. the idea of one person helping another person i think is a sound one. if we only "help the needy" by dropping our coins in the salvation army bin at christmas time, it sterilizes the experience and we really don't have to have any comprehesion of "needy". personally, i think it's more useful to go build a habitat for humanity house or volunteer at the foodbank -- do something handson, something that puts me there, gives me a face, a name. i live in priviledge and i want to be able to have some understanding and true compassion for the people i inhabit this earth with. if "the poor & needy" become humans to me, it makes the problem harder to ignore, but also more managable a task. i can buy this guy a meal today, and i know that it made a real difference in his life -- it didn't fix all his problems, but it helped... those same 20 bucks are a drop in the bucket against famines in africa, and i really don't see how it helps [not to suggest it isn't helpful, but it just is not satisfying in the same way.]
posted by raedyn at 11:09 PM on July 20, 2001


if we only "help the needy" by dropping our coins in the salvation army bin at christmas time, it sterilizes the experience and we really don't have to have any comprehesion of "needy"

Imagine how sterile it is when it's all done through the government. Agreed that actually doing something directly is not only more satisfying but more effective.
posted by kindall at 11:15 PM on July 20, 2001


« Older   |   Cat that lived in bookstore dies at age 20. Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post