Homeowner Recounts 26-Day Tenant Nightmare

Beverly Ginsburg used to be the kind of person who never thought twice about opening her house to someone in need.

"I never think anyone is going to take advantage of me, hurt me or do anything," she said from her Pasadena home.

In November, her rabbi told her about a mother and daughter who needed help getting back on their feet.

"You know, a nice Jewish woman with a daughter and a cute dog," said Ginsburg.

"It sounded perfect."

But perfect, soon became Ginsburg's nightmare.

"Oh, she stole tons of stuff from me," she said. "She stole my computer, cell phones, keys, my backup drives."

Ginsburg said her tenants' behavior grew increasingly aggressive and calculated. She began taking videos of them to document what she described as an increasingly hostile relationship.

They also began recording her.

"The short story is, they're con artists," said Ginsburg, who said she feared for her family's safety in her own home. "My daughter can't come home until these people leave!"

Ginsburg described one way she said her tenants' behavior became more manipulative.

"They kept plugging the toilet, flooding the bathroom. I'd have to turn the water off to find out where the flooding was coming from."

It was then that Ginsburg said her tenants called the police and blamed her for not supplying water to them.

"It was all a game, it was just game," she said.

NBC4 obtained documents from the Pasadena Police Department which showed that police were called to Ginsburg's home 18 times in the 26 days they lived together.

One night, the women accused each other of assault. But the city prosecutor did not have enough evidence to file criminal charges, according to the Pasadena Police Department.

"The minute they walked in my door, they knew exactly what they wanted," said Ginsburg.

Ginsburg had her tenants sign a lease, which she thought protected her. But she did not do a background check, nor did she have them fill out a rental application.

"It can take up to six months to a year to get them out of your house," she explained.

Ginsburg hired a private investigator to help her navigate through the eviction process.

"At the very moment that a homeowner creates tenancy with a guest, they've given that guest rights to live there." said Nils Grevillius. "Under California law, it's very difficult to remove that person from the home without a complicated and tensely technical legal proceeding called an unlawful detainer."

NBC4 spoke with another woman who said she rented to the same mother and daughter several years ago.

She said her experience was almost identical to Ginsburg's.

"She called a number of times saying we weren't giving her hot water," she said. "She did not fill out a rental application -- and that was our bane."

A simple rental application asking potential tenants whether they've ever been evicted could have prevented it all, according to experts.

"Unless you do some sort of more detailed background check, you're not going to know what you get," James Clarke, executive vice president of the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles.

Ginsburg said her tenants finally moved out on their own. She has installed surveillance cameras in her home. Ginsburg believes her tenants are still in Southern California, victimizing other homeowners.

"I don't want her to come back, I don't want them to come back," said Ginsburg. "I'm scared."

NBC4 tried to reach Ginsburg's tenants, but a current address or phone number was not available.

Contact Us