CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) - A Cranston landlord says squatters have ruined her life.
Imagine the frustration, you're a landlord, and you've gotpeople living in your apartment rent free because they refuse topay, and refuse to leave.
As Mona Lisa found out the law was not on her side. Mona is busyenough running her Cranston hair salon she thought her other job asa landlord would be easier but boy was she wrong.
"I kept seeing a familiar face over and over and I asked her'who are you?"
Mona rents out the second floor of her salon, back in the fallshe noticed a woman, other than her tenant, hanging around theapartment.
"She said she was only going to stay until the end of the monthto help this person make the rent."
But when the end of the month came, and her paying tenant movedout, that's when the problems, big problems began.
"The tenant moved out and these people stayed!"
And stayed for months! Various people, men, women, children wereall living upstairs in Mona's apartment she says, rent free! Theycontinued living there well into the winter-
Mona says she pleaded with police to kick them out but theytold her to get a lawyer to have them evicted.
"So now I have to wait for the process, I have to hire anattorney which now I have no money."
With no rent income now, for 5 months, Mona is out $5000. That'swhen she called 12 for action.
We confronted the squatters.
"She hasn't gotten rent from you guys and you've trashed thisplace," said Reporter Susan Hogan.
"It drives me crazy, it drives me crazy, because where's thejustice? Who's going to help me," asks Mona.
Mona did eventually go to court and the squatters were orderedto move out in a month and pay Mona some of the back rent, but whenthey moved out and Mona went upstairs she was horrified.
There were holes in walls, broken doors, knobs ripped offappliances, filth everywhere.
"They just come in, destroy and I'm holding the bag."
In Rhode Island, a rental agreement can be an oral agreement ora written agreement.
Consumer attorney Chris Lefebvre says unfortunately becauseMona's allowed someone else to help pay the rent that wasn't on thelease was a big mistake.
In this case the landlord was aware this person was livingthere, allowed it to happen, but when things got to an unbearablepoint that's when she wanted them out, but that was too late.
"I just wish I had known better. I just wish I hadn't been sonice. Now look what I'm left with, thousands of dollars in damage.What a mess."
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