As posted and written by CBS 5, A few weeks ago, I reposted a post by CBS 5 who reported on a woman who avoided paying rent for years. She had numerous court judgments against her, and owes more than $100,000 to landlords, some in the Bay Area.
Recently, she turned up in Oregon, but her stay there didn't last long.
When CBS 5 first caught up with Gwen Smith, it was late October in the Sonoma County town of Forestville. She sped past our cameras as we tried to ask her about eight court judgments against her totaling $183,000, judgments in favor of landlords such as Connie Cook in Sebastopol.
"She started claiming that the apartment was uninhabitable. The water was not healthy, there was a gas leak," said Cook. A judge ruled Smith's conduct of not paying rent and filing numerous legal actions "malicious" and a "tactical delay" and awarded cook approx. $49,000 in damages.
After leaving Cook's house, Smith moved to Oregon renting a room in Lance Hilt's house. Within days, Hilt said he realized he had made a big mistake. "I got the roommate from hell," he said.
Hilt said she put a lock on her room, and started complaining about everything. "It's all about her, she's like a fulltime job," he said. He managed to evict her.
Then Smith moved into Pamela Joy's house and soon started "threatening" her, according to court documents. "I put a lock on the inside of my bedroom door because I was afraid to not lock it at night when I was asleep," said Joy.
Joy also took Smith to court. In an audio recording from the Jackson County Circuit Court, Smith was heard talking back to the judge. "She was arguing with the judge, it was to my mind really shocking," said Joy.
But one thing that didn't happen to landlords in Oregon, and was the financial ruin for some in California, involved Smith withholding rent.
In Oregon, if there's a landlord tenant dispute, tenants still have to pay rent into an escrow account held by the court. Whoever wins gets the money. I am of the opinion that CA should adopt a similar law. This would curb a lot of abuse.
The Law Offices of James V. Sansone is located in Santa Rosa, California and litigates numerous landlord tenant disputes including evictions, contract and lease disputes, evictions after foreclosure, and problem tenants, throughout Sonoma County, Mendocino County, and Lake County, including Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Cotati, Rohnert Park, Sebastopol, Healdsburg, Sonoma, Kenwood, Glen Ellen, Windsor, Bodega Bay, Ukiah, Willits, Clearlake, Lakeport, and Kelseyville.