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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Bank Botches Payment, Check Bounces, and 62-Year-Old Woman Is Evicted -- and Homeless

Posted By on Tue, Apr 27, 2010 at 11:59 AM

Heda Boscoe, 62, says she's been sleeping in her car since her eviction earlier this month - JOE ESKENAZI
  • Joe Eskenazi
  • Heda Boscoe, 62, says she's been sleeping in her car since her eviction earlier this month
Heda Boscoe can trace all the steps that led her to be a panicky, nervous wreck sitting amid a sheaf of crumpled, loose documents in a San Francisco cafe with nowhere else to go -- literally.

There was the $11,000 and change in back rent she owed her landlord of 17 years -- a woman who has moved to evict her "four or five times." Then there's the note from her bank acknowledging an "internal error" resulted in the $11,000 not being moved from a trust account to a checking account: "Please accept our apologies for the matter." There are the eviction papers that followed the resultant bounced check -- it's all in her car. So is Boscoe; the 62-year-old disabled woman has been sleeping in her vehicle since April 21.

Does the fact the bank acknowledges it made a mistake here change things? The short answer is no. The long answer is hell no. And part of that is because this was Boscoe's third bounced check.

The retired hairdresser notes that she often paid her rent in chunks of $6,000 or $9,000. But, in this case, she was having problems. After twice bouncing a check, Boscoe and her attorney, Paul Behrend, managed to reach an agreement with landlord Nancy Tan and eviction attorney Daniel Bornstein. She'd get them the $11,700 by money order or cashier's check and, in return, move out in 15 months. She'd go to Palm Springs. Or Israel. Or anywhere but here.

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Boscoe's longtime apartment building: 4220 Cesar Chavez

But, notes Behrend, here's the rub: Boscoe didn't pay via cashier's check or money order as the agreement stipulated. She wrote out a personal check. And, due to the aforementioned "internal error," the check bounced. SF Weekly read a copy of the bank's acknowledgement of its error, and contacted the personal banker overseeing Boscoe's accounts -- who verified that she did write this letter and this was the bank's slip-up (we are not naming names simply because we don't want to get anyone fired over this -- simple as that). But Judge Charlotte Woolard ruled that, bank error or not, Boscoe didn't live up to her end of the bargain. She's out. At this point, even entreaties by her influential friend Willie Brown are for naught.

"By the letter of the law, they have every right to do what they did," acknowledges Behrend. "The landlord wants her out and, unfortunately, Heda gave her the chance to do it."

Bornstein would only answer "Oh yes!" when asked if there was longstanding animosity between Boscoe and his client, Tan. Other than that, he refused to answer any questions. Messages for Tan relayed through Bornstein have not been returned. It warrants mentioning that Boscoe is no stranger to our legal system -- her cases against her landlord are just a fraction of those she has been involved in.

Behrend, meanwhile, notes that a 62-year-old disabled woman being evicted is something a tenants' lawyer gets used to. "I've seen a whole lot worse. I've seen people evicted in the Tenderloin living on SSI. It's terrible."

Boscoe, according to her sheaf of documents, does indeed have the money to pay back rent -- even though her former landlord has no intention of accepting it. Her decision to live in her car is confusing to her attorney. When asked why she didn't rent a room, she said "What am I to do, pay $300 a night with every room booked for a convention?"

Incidentally, Boscoe still owes that $11,700 to her landlord. But don't count on that transaction taking place. "If she's smart, she'll put that money where they never find it," says Behrend. "They've got a money judgment against her. ... Collecting is a whole other story." He names a San Francisco landlord with a penchant for holding onto tenants' deposits. That landlord "has more than 50 individual judgments against her. In this business, a whole lot of times there's no way to collect on judgments." Boscoe would do well to think about relocating to Palm Springs. Or Israel. Or anywhere else -- because it doesn't seem like things are working out in San Francisco.

After meeting Boscoe at a Mission Bay cafe, SF Weekly walked by two hours later. She was still there, sunk into a couch and staring into space. Her phone rang and she answered it; it was her roommate, who'd borrowed Boscoe's car. Great news: Someone smashed in the fender.

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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