Frustrated Bellows Falls landlord plans peaceful demonstration over tenant

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BELLOWS FALLS -- A local landlord said she is planning a peaceful demonstration this weekend to draw attention to a crisis she is in due to a tenant who refuses to pay rent.

Linda Udd lives in the attic of a family home at 26 Hapgood Place and rents out its two apartments. She said a woman named Betty Bashaw moved into one of the apartments on the second floor six months ago but hasn't paid rent in the past five months. The loss of revenue has caused severe financial problems for Udd and she said if she is not paid by Monday, Nov. 5, she will have to contact her bank to begin the foreclosure process. She said this would leave her homeless.

Udd said she and some friends will hold the demonstration at noon on Sunday to expose Bashaw's criminal behavior. She said they plan to chant, sing songs (such as "Evil Ways" by Santana) and hold protest signs outside the building. They will also provide snack foods.

Udd said she hopes the demonstration will be "an awakening of sorts."

She said she charges $850 in rent but hasn't been paid by Bashaw in five months. The first month's rent, Udd said, was paid for by Bashaw's then-boyfriend.

Udd said she will be owed $5,100 by Nov. 5.

She said the demonstration might seem radical but it is her last resort, after she said Vermont Superior Court threw out the case she filed about Bashaw because she 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.

Udd said she has learned from other landlords in the area that Bashaw is a professional squatter, who lives for free by exploiting the legal system and using it in her favor.

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"There is no penalty for behaving like she's behaving," Udd said. "It doesn't create good citizens."

Udd said what started off as a landlord-tenant relationship has turned into a nightmare.

"(Bashaw) throws eggs at me, she's locked me in my basement, she has sent dogs after me, and the Bellows Falls Police Department does nothing about it," she said. "Where am I supposed to turn?"

Udd sent a letter to Windham County Sheriff Keith Clark to explain she was not being helped by the BFPD. Scott Wendel, a friend of hers, sent an e-mail to Police Chief Ron Lake to ask why no action was being taken against Bashaw. He told the Reformer he would like Bashaw arrested for unlawful imprisonment, assault or other charges.

BFPD Sgt. David Bemis said there is not much the police can do in this case because not paying rent is a civil matter and not a criminal act.

Wendel said he noticed Bashaw taking some of her belongings out of the apartment on Thursday night.

Udd said she has informed the BFPD of her planned demonstration and checked with the town to make sure she does not need any sort of special permit. BFPD Sgt. Shane Harris confirmed that no permit is necessary.

Udd, who described herself as "a small-town, small-potato landlord," said other landlords have heard her story and say they will never again rent to tenants.

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

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


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