On March 13, 2020, I sold my triplex where I have lived in the attic apartment for thirty-nine years to two contractors. On February 7, I learned about the virus in China from my cousin, who was on business there. While he was talking, I saw how life was going to change in Durango—including mandates to stay home and possibly, armed guards.
I expressed my concerns to my realtor, and on February 20, before he left the state, he added amendments to the contract and the buyers signed them. In simple terms: (1) the Seller can stay until she’s ready to leave, paying rent if it’s longer than two months*, and (2) the Seller is the sole user of the garage until she leaves.
Part 4: The Contract
Because the Buyers’ realtor apparently didn’t explain the contract they signed, a wave of emails followed the March 13 closing. Here are a few samples with names deleted:
March 18, 2020: Buyers to Seller
I’m coming over this afternoon to do inventory on the garage. We will be using that shortly and anything you have in there needs to be removed at your earliest convenience. Please let me know when that will be?
March 18, 2020: Seller to Buyers
Are you aware of the Pandemic? That schools have closed, non-critical businesses are closed, and we are supposed to stay inside?
March 20, 2020: Seller to Buyers
Re’ your statements, “I’m coming over this afternoon to do inventory on the garage. We will be using that shortly and anything you have in there needs to be removed at your earliest convenience. Please let me know when that will be?”
What do you mean by “taking inventory?” Everything in that garage belongs to me. And the “Agreement to Amend/Extend Contract” we signed on 03/12/2020 states:
The Seller will have sole use of the garage and driveway to the garage post-closing. This agreement shall stay in place until the Seller vacates the property per the terms of the Post-Occupancy Agreement.
This is an awkward situation for all of us, compounded by the coronavirus and associated legislation. I’m hoping we can all get through it amicably. My staying here could be advantageous for you in several ways—like letting you know that the mountain climber awaits your email to tell him how to pay his rent; he typically pays early.
March 22, 2020: Seller to friends and family
The Buyers and Seller have different understandings regarding the legal paperwork we signed about my staying in my apartment.
I’ve been wasting time –mine, and my friend’s’ –looking for a place to live in Durango until the storm* passes. As I am on a budget and have two cats, my choices are limited.
I started writing about this whole weird experience, trying to understand it. May you be well and happy and have all the toilet paper you need. My neighbors gave me a four-pack roll and a dark chocolate bar for my birthday!
March 26, 2020: Seller to Buyers
You already know that my attempt to “kill the deal” before closing was due to learning about the coronavirus (Please see the email from me to Gina Piccoli that I copied you). But you insisted on keeping the March 13 closing date, and I kept my word and showed up at closing.
I know you’re anxious to get started on maintenance work in my apartment. As a former property manager and owner, I understand. But there is a Pandemic now, and that changes things.
When you said you were coming over to paint my bedroom—while it was raining and snowing—I realized how unsafe I am living here. You would be violating my health if you did that, especially now. Those contingencies in our contract were included to give me time to identify a relocation destination, to have a garage sale of my belongings, and to execute the move.
And so, I contacted Nick Anesi, Attorney, to explain our contract and the Pandemic to you.
This morning, the Colorado Governor has issued the “Stay at Home Order,” which also affects businesses. Your business is not one of the “Critical Businesses” listed. I will be working in my apartment and the garage today because the realtors canceled the showings, following that Order. I’ve been advised to call the police if you come into my space.
Re’ “how long will I be here.” I have a verbal agreement to rent a studio beginning June 1. But that date might be extended if you continue to interfere with my efforts to do the work required for my leaving. Our “lease” is the amended contract we both signed.
This unfortunate worldwide Pandemic is stressful for everyone. Many people see it as a time to spend with their families and to catch up on their home projects. I’m working hard, doing what it takes to leave this house.
March 29, 2020: Seller to Friends and Family
After clocking more than 100 hours online, looking for a place to live–that I can afford, which is pet-friendly–and running into a wall of “we’re not showing property or meeting people in person due to the COVID-19 Pandemic,” I have decided to quit looking.
This morning, I watched that video by the NYC pulmonary M.D. who treats only COVID-19 patients ( https://vimeo.com/399733860). And it convinced me that I must stay put for three reasons:
- A lawyer sent a letter to the new owners explaining the amendments added to the house contract when the buyers would not let me kill the deal after I learned about the virus in February.
- The Colorado Governor issued the Order to “Stay Home” until April 10, and evictions are not allowed.
- COVID-19 Pandemic could continue for a long time.
Admittedly, this is not a comfortable situation for the new owners or me. But they agreed to it so they could expand their wealth of rentals, and I will hold them to it. (I am an old woman; hear me roar!)
[to be continued]
UPDATE: April 7, 2020
While I was going through stuff in another room, Shane Sigel, one of the new owners, posted an eviction notice on my front door. I phoned Nick Anesi, the lawyer I hired ($500) to write a letter to them when they sent me those harassing emails. He said he’d call their lawyer and ask him to explain to the buyers the contract they signed and the Colorado Governor’s Order re’ evictions and COVID-19. Nick just called and said I should leave ASAP—that it’s not safe for me to stay here no matter what the contract states. I’ve clocked 300 hours looking for a place that accepts cats and the two I thought I had, the ones I saw Friday and Saturday, April 3 and 4, let me know today that they rented to someone else.
Update April 8
When I returned from my walk in the neighborhood, there was another “Notice to Quit” on my door: “Tenancy for Apt. 3 will terminate on May 12, 2020 at the end of the term described by Paragraph 3 of the Post-Closing Statement executed in [sic] February 15, 2020”
*This is an excerpt from that “Post-Closing Agreement” which is actually in the Counter-Proposal dated 2/14/2020, and it was signed by Brian Fredrick, the other buyer, on 2/13/2020:
Buyer will allow Seller to occupy Apartment 3 of the subject property for up to 69 days post closing rent free [sic]. If Seller wishes to remain in the property beyond 60 day post closing [sic] period, said tenancy will be at a rate of $33 per day. Seller will give buyer no less than 15 days notice to vacate Apartments 3.
Till next time,
Please be kind to everyone you meet, for we all have our hidden sorrows. ~Tzaddi