Saturday November 17, 2012

BELLOWS FALLS -- A local landlord, growing increasingly frustrated with a tenant issue which she claims could leave her homeless, is looking to the ACLU and state legislators for assistance.

Linda Udd lives in the attic of a family home at 26 Hapgood Place and rents out its two apartments. She said a woman moved into one of the apartments on the second floor six months ago but allegedly hasn't paid rent in the past five months. Udd claims her loss of revenue -- $5,100 as of Nov. 5 -- will force her into foreclosure.

She said if she doesn't scrape together enough money by Dec. 16, she will lose the house to foreclosure and become homeless. She said the man renting a room on the first floor will soon move into a new house.

Udd has sought the BFPD's assistance in removing the tenant from the property, but officers say their hands are tied because it is a civil matter, not a criminal one. Udd said she understands that but claims the tenant has exhibited criminal behavior by locking her in her own basement, throwing eggs at her car and attempting to have dogs attack her.

She said he has asked for help from the Vermont chapter of the ACLU, which she said is looking into the matter but operates on limited funds.

Udd some friends held a peaceful demonstration the final weekend of October to try to expose the tenant's alleged criminal acts.


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She said the demonstration may have seemed a bit radical but it was her last resort, as Vermont Superior Court threw out the case she filed against the tenant because Udd didn't give the tenant enough warning on the eviction notice.

She said the judge told her an extra three days must be granted as a grace period on a 14-day eviction notice. But Udd has a motion of hearing set for Thursday, Dec. 6. She is now looking for a lawyer to work for her pro bono.

Udd also believes the local police department is ignoring her plight.

Udd, Robert Kropp and Tom Nielsen attended a Bellows Falls Village Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday to appeal to village officials. She said she was expecting BFPD Chief Ron Lake to be there, but he was not because he is away for two weeks.

Municipal Manager Tim Cullenen said Udd is throwing out accusations of police corruption but has not provided any evidence to back up her claims.

"At this point, there is no basis for the allegations," he said, adding that Udd is not following proper procedure in voicing her grievances.

Cullenen said he understands Udd is in a difficult situation, but added "the law is the law."

Udd told the Reformer she spoke with Matt Ramon at the Office of the Attorney General of Vermont and learned that Vermont law prohibits trustees from getting involved in these matters, but an independent investigation will be provided if trustees request one.

"This is a political matter and no one wants to touch it," she said in an e-mail to the Reformer. "It's like being in a cesspool of untruths in a dysfunctional family."

Udd said she contacted Gov. Peter Shumlin's office asking how to start a petition to change tenant laws in Vermont. Sue Allen, the governor's spokeswoman, confirmed this and said any number of signatures can be obtained for a petition to be sent to a legislator.

She said she received an e-mail from State Rep. Matthew Trieber, who she said acknowledged that this is a matter for state legislators. Udd said she also left a message with State Rep. Carolyn Partridge.

Domenic Poli can be reached at dpoli@reformer.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277.