Disabled Senior Citizen Evicting - Tenant demanding Jury Trial

14 Replies

My 71 yo mother rented a room in her mobile home to a 55 yo man. There is no rental contract and she's never rented to anyone else so didn't realize she was making herself a landlord. 1.5 years later she is evicting him based on the fact that he has tried to hurt her dog, threatened her verbally, leaves threatening and crazy letters all over the house. We hired an attorney who served him 60 day notice. He's lawyered up with an attorney who is know to make evictions as painful and expensive for landlords. Our attorney offered 30 days free rent and welcomed his attorney to help come to a settlement. He totally ignored it and demanded a jury trial.

My mother is on a fixed income and can barely cover her living expenses and has a number of serious health conditions. I’ve helped with the legal fees so far $3K, but can’t afford the expense for a jury trial.  I’ve tried finding legal aid for her, but because she is the landlord, nobody will help.  Any ideas or referrals? She is in Los Angeles. He is claiming Inhabitable conditions and retaliation. We’re pretty sure he’s done this to the last 2 homes he lived in. 

She may have to walk away from her home if we can’t find her some help.  Thanks so much.

@Veronica Farber Oh wow! So sorry to hear this. It's best to go through the process of eviction. It will be hard. But you will have to build up your case. If your mom feels she's in danger, it may be best to leave the home and stay somewhere else. You may also want to try to get the police involved. If there is no rental contract, it could be viewed as trespassing. Though, I'd check with your lawyer before you do anything. Good luck! 

She doesn’t Have to have a lawyer just because it’s a jury trial verses a judge’s decision.  Just put down in writing an accurate list of facts, occurrences  and times along with the letters.  Jurors aren’t idiots, the truth will come out.

@Rachel H. Thanks. @Wayne Brooks - I know there is the DIY option of representing ourselves...I’ve just heard that with Jury trials it can get complicated. In the end, we may not have any other choice....better to try and represent ourselves and hope the jury/judge sees through this guy, rather than have her walk away from her home. I totally understand the reason for the landlord/tenant laws, but it sure seems like the honest landlords get screwed by the current system.

Do NOT, NOT EVER, have your mother move out of the house.  Her roomer will have even more reason to fight to keep the house then.  

If she has a third bedroom, you move in or have a big burly biker friend move into the third room.  You want your mother safe, but also the roomer to not feel too safe or comfortable.  You want to encourage him to leave, so move in other room mates to 'pay the bills' even if its just a favor to your mom, and they do not really pay anything, just keep your mom safe.  You have any nephews who could help out? Or hire a male caregiver for her.

Get the elderly protective services involved, they may help encourage him to leave as they can assist in getting him charged or arrested if he threatens her.

Working on a restraining order...not easy since we have an eviction case in process.  So hard when it is he said, she said....we don’t have a 3rd bedroom so I’m sure the roommate would have yet one more complaint in response to the eviction. Crossing fingers that when adult protective services goes out to inspect (with sheriff) that they see something  which can be used to help protect her.  Thanks everyone for your comments and suggestions. If anyone has LA legal contacts that might offer legal aid for this unique situation, please let me know. Great forum!

Did the 60 day notice have a reason for the end of the tenancy?  IF not, it would be easy enough to say it is because of her need to provide housing for her burly relative, who now, since the tenant did not leave, must live on the couch.  Natural consequence, you asked the tenant to leave, he is still there, so with no where to go, the relative must now stay on the couch.

@Veronica Farber  In California, if this man is only renting a room in your mother’s home and he is the only person doing so, he can be treated as a lodger. 

There’s different rules for lodgers that are much more favorable to the “landlord”, including that the lodger is only generally entitled to 30 days notice and can be arrested after the expiration of the notice. 

Ask your attorney about this but here’s some more info in the meantime:

https://www.ocsd.org/divisions/prof/court/civil/lodgers

https://www.latimes.com/la-xpm-2011-dec-25-la-fi-rent-20111225-story,amp.html

Hey Veronica, 

     Im here to try and shed some light into your case but keep in mind, I am no attorney nor serve as legal aid. I’m just here to give you advise as I’ve been on the same end of the stick as your currently in.            

        A Jury trial isn’t cheap it’s an expensive cost for both renter and landlord. Keep in mind it’s a lot of work. Attorneys don’t work for free nor cheap. On top of that Most renters make just enough for rent. What makes you think they have 5k+ Sitting Around specially if he’s 50?? If this dude had that much money saved up he wouldn’t be renting a room out in a Mobil home. (NO OFFENSE TO ANYONE RENTING A MOBIL HOME) But Defense attorneys use this scare tactic when they don’t have a case. In other words it’s EXTORTION on a legal level. I’ve been there done that. I’m 90% sure you guys will settle before even getting into a Trial. Play hard don’t give in. Offer no money when it’s time to settle.

Keep us updated on what happens when it’s all said and done. 

Originally posted by @Veronica Farber :

@Rachel H. Thanks. @Wayne Brooks - I know there is the DIY option of representing ourselves...I’ve just heard that with Jury trials it can get complicated. In the end, we may not have any other choice....better to try and represent ourselves and hope the jury/judge sees through this guy, rather than have her walk away from her home. I totally understand the reason for the landlord/tenant laws, but it sure seems like the honest landlords get screwed by the current system.

 if you and your mother try to represent yourselves I suspect the judge will give you a ton of leeway ..  especially if he looks up this persons past litigation history..  you know when they are sitting on the bench looking at their computer they are back grounding people :)

Thanks to all for your responses. We are still waiting for court date. We just received Demand for Discovery (29 pages), Special Interrogatories (28), Request for Production of Documents (45), Requests for Admission (30), Form Interrogatories (40). Our attorney said this is the worst Tenant firm he has ever seen. Looking at possibility of dismissing this case and moving my mom out of her mobile home as we just can’t financially afford to move forward with the kind of representation we will need. The mobile home park will have deeper pockets to get him out. 

The tenant emailed a friend of my mom’s and told her that he would massacre her in civil court with no regret....and he told my mom about 6 months ago that she was going to lose her house. Very sad that our legal system ends up hurting senior citizens who get taken advantage of by POS tenants. Please don’t misunderstand me...I understand the need for the laws and our legal system....but when this kind of thing can happen to a little old lady with poor health...something is broken.

@Veronica Farber

Such a horrible situation.  Not much advice here but I’d say save all those messages this guy is sending and turn them over as evidence of harassment if you can.  

I’m not really sure how that would go. But maybe it would help the case by showing what a disgusting person he is?

Sorry you are going through this