Deal to allow 99 year old Iris Canada to stay in her SF home hits snag when landlord asks for courtroom apology. pic.twitter.com/ZsIGvqgF5v— Juan Carlos Guerrero (@JuanCarlosABC7) April 19, 2016
Iris Canada, a 99-year-old woman who has lived in her Western Addition home on Page Street since the 1940s, can stay put until her death, a ruling that follows a brief reprieve granted by a judge earlier this month. There's a catch. She has to pay the apartment owners' legal fees of $100,000, or else agree to a condo conversion. Bay City News reports that a Superior Court Judge made the ruling yesterday.
Canada holds not a lease but a lifetime estate, part of a deal brokered during a 2002 remediation with the owners, who are Peter Owens, Carolyn Radisch, and Steven Owens, a married couple and a pair of brothers. Under those terms, Canada pays $700 a month — terms that also state she can't have others live with her, such as caregivers, or live elsewhere for extended periods of time.
Allegations that Canada has left the apartment and neglected it lead the owners to attempt the eviction, but while Canada does not deny that she has spent time away dealing with medical issues, such as a stroke, she maintains that she has kept up the apartment throughout.
In the building where Canada resides, the other five unites are tenancies-in common, all ready to convert to condominiums. But to complete the process, they'll need Canada's signature, which she has refused to give.
Attorney Andrew Zacks says the condo conversion dispute is at the root of the current situation, and that Canada's family members, particularly her niece and de facto spokesperson Iris Merriouns, are preventing her from doing so. “What we have here is exploitation of Ms. Canada by her family members,” Zacks said.
The Chronicle appears to have been in the room during an "often-rancorous" phone exchange between Merriouns and Peter Owens: While Owens will waive the legal fees, which Merriouns indicates Canada is likely unable to pay, the niece isn't having it.
"Why should we trust someone who says one thing publicly but does another thing behind closed doors?” Merriouns contends to Bay City News. “If Peter Owens is a man of his word then he will drop the $100,000,” she said, referring to the attorney’s fees."
The controversy has had repercussions for Peter Owens, a Vermont resident who resigned his position as Burlington Community Economic and Development Office Director. His departure was planned according to the Burlington Free Press, but occurred sooner than expected due in part to the scandal in San Francisco