Dream of: 06 March 1997 "Eviction Notice"
One of my Dalmatians roared a bark to tell me someone was outside the back door of the Summerdale Drive House. I stepped up to the door, opened it, and allowed a woman to walk into the living room. She was a sturdy black-haired woman (probably in her mid 30s). I knew why she was there: she had come to ask me for some legal advice. Although I had never met clients in my home before, I had decided to meet her, and I was even thinking of meeting other clients in the house. This was a bit of an experiment to see how it would work. I knew it wasn't typical for a lawyer to meet clients at home; but I didn't much care. I was free and felt secure enough to do what I wanted.
The woman and I walked through the living room and into the dining room. I sat down on the blue couch and she sat in a chair at a dining table in front of me.
She wasted no time in telling me her problem: she was about to be evicted. What made her situation unusual was that she wasn't actually living in a house, but merely camping out on someone's land. The owner of the land had originally given the woman permission to camp on the land, but now the owner wanted the woman to leave. She wanted to know if there was any way she could stay. She also mentioned that some kangaroos were living on the land, and that she had spent quite a bit of money for food for the kangaroos.
As I had listened to her story, I had felt increasingly uncomfortable about meeting the woman in my home. I was particularly concerned about what she must think of me, of what kind of a lawyer I must be to meet someone in my home instead of at an office. She must surely think that I must not be very successful. I knew that actually the opposite was true: it was because I had been successful that I could now afford to stay home and not go to the hated office. I was glad that I would now have a chance to prove that I knew something about the law and give her accurate advice.
However, unfortunately for her, what I had to tell her wasn't going to be what she wanted to hear. I quickly began by explaining that "under Texas law," the owner of the property could evict her "at will." This was the case even if she had been paying rent. Even a renter couldn't force a property owner to continue renting the property. And this woman's case was even more tenuous, because she wasn't even paying any rent. I saw no hope that she would be allowed to stay.
As I began explaining the law to the woman, I could tell that she seemed impressed by my grasp of the problem. However, I quickly found myself distracted by a disturbing development: Carolina had returned home and was clanging around in the next room. First I heard Carolina come into the back door into the living room. Then (I could hardly believe it) I heard Carolina go into the kitchen, right behind us, and start washing dishes. When the noise became so distracting that I could no longer stand it, I stood up and walked into the kitchen. I was angry that Carolina would be so inconsiderate, and I forcefully led her away from the kitchen back into the living room, telling her that she must stop until I was finished with the client.
I returned to the dining room, sat back down and again began talking to the woman. To my utter amazement, I looked up to see that Carolina had walked right into the living room with a broom and was sweeping the floor. Realizing I was quickly losing all credibility with the client, once again I stood up and led Carolina from the room. This time I took her all the way back to the main bedroom. I was so furious, I thought about walking over to her closet and ripping up a piece of her clothing. But I refrained from doing that, realizing that Carolina would just retaliate when I left and rip up something of mine. Instead I again emphasized to her that she must remain quiet and out of sight until I was finished. I then turned to return to the dining room.
When I stepped back into the living room, I found that the woman was already standing and ready to leave. I didn't know whether she was fed up with the interruptions, or whether she had simply heard enough and was ready to go. I walked with her to the back door and let her out. Only now did I see that she was driving a large truck the size of a dump truck which she had parked behind the House. I wondered if perhaps she drove this truck to the property which she had been "camping," and if she was in fact "camping" in the back of the dump truck.
I also noticed that the woman had a long-haired dog with her, and I realized the woman's dog had probably caused my dog to bark when the woman had arrived.
Only as the woman was pulling away did I realize that there had been one other thing that I should have told her. I recalled that under Texas law, a renter was entitled to some notice before the renter could be forced to leave property where the renter was living. The notice basically was for the length of time of the rental period. Thus if the rent was paid by the month, the renter was entitled to a one month notice; if paying every six months, then a six month notice. But since the notice only applied to renters who were actually paying rent, I didn't think it would matter in the woman's case, since she was camping on the property for free. So it probably didn't make any difference that I hadn't told her this.
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