84-year-old Alstead woman evicted from home after losing court fight
In this Nov. 26, 2013 photo, Shelley Crosby left, poses with her mother Leona Berger at Leona's home in Alstead, N.H. The state Supreme Court has upheld Berger's eviction notice from the mobile home she has lived in for almost three decades. Berger will be evicted from her home Friday June 6, 2014. When Berger is evicted Friday as expected, she will live with another daughter. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
An 84-year-old Alstead woman yesterday was out of the modest mobile home she’s lived in for the past 27 years after the state’s highest court upheld her eviction.
“I haven’t done anything wrong,” Leona Berger said Thursday. “I’ve redone this house inside from paint, paper to floors, and I don’t know what I’ve done. I bother nobody. My house is probably the neatest one.”
Berger planned to pack up her belongings, put her furniture in storage and move in with a daughter.
In a brief order filed in April, the Supreme Court said Berger failed to prove her case that a lower court had made a mistake in allowing the West Hill Cooperative to evict her in 2012.
The lawyer representing Well Hill did not immediately return a call seeking comment. Robert Phinney, the chairman of the cooperative’s board of directors, has said the eviction was a business decision.
The case began in August 2011, when Berger got notice that the board was going to increase her rent from $400 to $900. Her daughter, Shelley Crosby, became her mother’s advocate and negotiated the rent down to $575. Berger had to sign a lease for the first time – a lease the board opted not to renew a year later. They sent an eviction notice effective September 2012.
The case sent ripples through the town. The board of selectmen even held up approval of a $400,000 grant for a well system at the trailer park for nearly half a year, hoping to leverage a deal with the cooperative to keep Berger in her home.
A lower court ruled the co-op’s board had the right to obtain and sell the rental property. When Berger’s lawyer declined to appeal the ruling, Crosby, who has no legal training, argued the case in front of the Supreme Court.