Blind woman, 82, loses bid to stay in tenant house

April 10, 1994|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,Sun Staff Writer

A Howard County Circuit Court judge has dismissed the claim of an 82-year-old blind woman to her rural Highland home located on land that her landlord plans to develop for new homes.

Judge Dennis M. Sweeney's one-page dismissal last week rejected Lulu Moore's claim that she is the owner of the Highland tenant house on the Scheidt family farm, called Paternal Gift Farm. She now faces eviction.

"I'm glad the judge saw it," said Peter Scheidt, a trustee of the Scheidt family trust, which includes the 120-acre farm on the western edge of the county. "It's a tragedy that it had to happen this way."

Scheidt family members -- one brother and two sisters -- said they no longer want to be landlords and that they plan to subdivide and develop the farm into 28 one-acre lots, with jogging trails and horse stables.

They hope to sell the lots for as much as $200,000 each. The money would fund the development project, with any remaining money going into their family trust.

Mrs. Moore, a widow who now lives with her granddaughter, said she had lived in the house since 1950. She said she worked as a full-time domestic for the Scheidts until 1979 and did not pay rent for the house until 1981, when she began paying $150 a month until 1992.

While she was working as a domestic, Mrs. Moore contended, the farm's original owner, Melvin Scheidt, promised that the 70-year-old, two-story wooden tenant house, off Route 108 near Route 216, would be her lifetime home.

Jo Glasco, Mrs. Moore's attorney, argued that because her client said she lived in the house for more than 20 years without paying rent, she has a right to the land.

Melvin Scheidt and his wife, Prue, died in 1979 and left nothing to Mrs. Moore in their wills. The couple's assets were left in a family trust, with their son, Peter, as one of the estate's trustees.

The Scheidt family members said they have a right to evict her because Mrs. Moore paid rent regularly as a tenant since 1950 and was only a part-time domestic.

The Scheidts said that Mrs. Moore's five children should be responsible for her care. Four of her children live in Maryland.

"The Scheidts have been very kind to her," James K. Eagan, the Scheidt family attorney, said yesterday. In September, when Mrs. Moore refused to leave the house, Peter Scheidt sought an order from Howard County District Judge Lenore Gelfman to have her evicted. In response to a petition by Ms. Glasco, Judge Gelfman moved the case to Howard County Circuit Court for a jury trial; at that time Mrs. Moore also filed a claim to the title of the tenant house.

Judge Sweeney dismissed the case Monday after hearing motions by the two parties April 1. Mrs. Moore's attorney has 30 days to appeal the judge's decision.

Shirley Foreman, Mrs. Moore's daughter, said if her mother is forced out of the house, she won't have a home.

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