Below is a story of a woman who refused to leave her apartment after receiving a legal eviction notice in Oakland, and how she ended up being feted as a heroine.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, as in many urban centers on the West and East coasts, the costs of housing are rising and the supply of affordable housing is dwindling. At the same time, the media and tenant and housing activists decry the “gentrification” of neighborhoods. This and the fact that many legal aid societies exist to provide free legal aid to low-income tenants, means that many renters, after receiving an eviction notice, are enabled to remain on the premises both by the prevailing “anti-gentrification” attitude, as well as by free assistance received from the legal aid groups (which do NOT provide free legal assistance to low income landlords) In essence these renters often have the attitude that the property they rent belongs to them, rather than to the property owner, or that the month to month or year lease that they signed, really meant that they were entering a lifelong rental contract — yet there exists no such contract. And the tenant legal aid agencies support this entitled attitude.
While it is certainly true that some property owners will try to illegally evict renters simply in order to raise the rent, it is nevertheless still true (even in the progressive Bay Area!) that people have a right to live in their own property. You wouldn’t think so from some of the articles you read, like this one
Here a woman is attempting to move into her own building and live on her own property, and the media are describing her desire to live in her own building and choose her tenants, as a “legal loophole.”
East Bay Express writer Sam Lefebvre is in the above article arguing that the property owner has no right to live in her own building and/or choose her housemates/tenants. The slant of the article is that this eviction makes use of a “loophole”, rather than a property owner’s legal right. While it may be true that in some cases a landlord will only pretend to move into the building in order to evict someone, absent any evidence indicating that this is occurring, it is wrong to make such an accusation. In Oakland, (and we hope, everywhere else) it is still legal to evict someone in order to live in your own property. It is also legal for a property owner living in a duplex or triplex in Oakland, to decide whom they want to live with on their property, as opposed to being held prisoner on their own property, forced into a years or decades long relationship, by a prohibition on evicting a tenant. This is not a “legal loophole”, it is an owner’s right.
This East Bay Express article seemingly seeks to build support for another kind of ownership, one based on political correctness. Apparently, Frances Moore has the “right” to stay in property which she does not own, and fight to prevent the owner from living in her own property, because the woman involved is black, and has been a community activist and longtime doer of good deeds in the neighborhood. By contrast the property owner is apparently (so one article suggests) a young white person who was assisted by her parents in buying her first property. The article not so subtly implies that those who are white, are the villians, the gentrifiers, the intruders. The owner apparently has no right to buy property in a black neighborhood with the intent to live in it. Much less to choose who will be her housemates.
Simon-Weisberg ( attorney) said she has seen a sharp increase in these kinds of evictions – sometimes from young white landlords in their 20s who purchase properties with their parents’ help.
Most of the articles on this site, are profiling those who engage in serial squatting or scamming of landlords, rather than in a single case of fighting an eviction. But in this case, the situation is so distorted, with Frances being portrayed as a victim and hero, while the property owner victimized by the tenant is being portrayed as a villian and “gentrifier”, that it seems there is a need to clarify… the woman in this case, Frances, has been served with notice of a legal eviction, and has not left the premises. Thus as I see it, she is squatter.
The woman being evicted by the owner gathered a crowd to publicly shame this poor property owner and voice her intent to stay on the premises:
On Sunday, Aunti Frances led more than 100 supporters — the preschoolers again, plus activists associated with organizations including POOR Magazine and Anti Police-Terror Project — from Driver Plaza to Natalia Morphy’s doorstep, banners and a marching band in tow. The chant went, “Which side are you on, Natalia? Which side are you on?” Her blinds were drawn. A cat eyed the demonstrators from the window. Aunti Frances knocked and shouted, “I will not be removed.”
So once again, here’s the simple truth that is being suppressed: a woman is refusing to leave after being served with a legal eviction notice — which in the opinion of many of us, is the definition of squatting.
The legal aid agencies which support her, enable malfeasance against property owners, and cause property owners enormous expense. Wanting to live in one’s own property and choose one’s tenants, is not a legal loophole, it is a legal right.