The ‘American Dream’ for Wildia Capre always centered around owning her own home.

“I wanted a piece of my city,” said Capre who immigrated to Boston as a child.

In July 2022, her childhood dream came true when she closed on a multifamily building in Dorchester.

However, her dream soon became her nightmare.

“Most of the cabinets, they are either broken or keyed, they barely open, they are all keyed inside,” Capre said as she walked in her empty upstairs unit. “The microwave is completely gone.”

Capre said the tenant who lived in her upstairs unit keyed the doors, kitchen cabinets and fridge. She said the walls had holes in them and glass was missing from cabinets.

“It’s hard to see,” she said of her now empty apartment.

While she found the renter through a Realtor, Capre told 7 Investigates the relationship with the renter took a tumultuous turn just a few months into the lease.

“Screaming, yelling, slamming doors upstairs, dropping things on the floor, breaking things upstairs and at one point she threatened to come downstairs and cave my head in,” Capre remembered.

Records show police were called to the property multiple times for landlord and tenant disputes. Capre even filed for a restraining order against her renter.

“I have felt anything but safe in this house since I bought it,” Capre said.

The tenant also stopped paying rent after a few months. Capre started the process to remove the renter three months after their lease started, but she quickly discovered the housing court is complex, time consuming and expensive.

“If you are a corporation, it’s easier for you to deal with these types of things, you have your lawyers, you know, but when you are a first generation, you just bought your house, you basically dished out your life savings and to not have the help at all,” Capre said.

Although her renter declined to comment to 7 Investigates, court documents claim the renter experienced utility issues, including lack of hot water and interruptions to the supply of water and heat. The renter also accused Capre of retaliation and discrimination, according to court documents.

Capre said the unit passed an official inspection before the renter moved in and she tried to promptly respond to any problems that arose.

While Capre initially tried to evict her tenant by herself, she eventually hired attorney Jordana Greenman. Greenman said she’s handled multiple other cases like Capre’s.

“The state cannot accept that people like Wildia Capre are more common than they think and that these landlords that are like this landlord are at risk of losing their homes themselves,” Greenman said.

Douglas Quattrochi, the executive director of MassLandlords, said he’s also heard from many landlords who are frustrated by the legal process in the state.

“If you are looking at the courts for a quick redress you’ve done something wrong. The courts are your redress of last resort. It’s going to take a long time, you’re definitely going to lose money; you’ll never get it back,” Quattrochi said. “We can’t rely on the courts to sort these things out because they really aren’t set up for that.”

The most recent eviction data analyzed by MassLandlords shows the average eviction case in the state takes around 3.5 months, but Quattrochi said there are cases that have taken more than 600 days.

Quattrochi said while it is great the state has so many renter protections, it can make things hard on landlords. He advises landlords to try to work with their tenants before taking the matter to court.

He said distributing rental assistance faster would go a long way to help some landlords.

“People just want access to the safety net and they want access to due process without these legal gotchas, like, ‘Oh, I forgot to do this paper just so,’” Quattrochi said.

Greenman said she would like to see a few more caveats in the current laws for owner-occupied units and small landlords. She fears without change, there may be fewer landlords willing to rent in the future.

“I don’t want homelessness, most landlords don’t want their tenant to be homeless; they just want their house back,” Greenman said

Capre’s tenants finally choose to move out in December, nearly a year after Capre sent the first ‘Notice to Quit.’ Capre said she is still owed around $7,000 in back rent and wants the court to make her former tenant pay. Their court case is still ongoing.

“Things don’t just stop because people moved out of your house. The bills don’t just get paid. My mortgage still needs to get paid, the damage needs to be fixed,” Capre said.

She said this entire ordeal has left her hesitant to rent again.

“This is very very discouraging,” Capre said of the process. “I was terrorized in my house for over a year. I wouldn’t wish that on any other landlord, especially a small landlord.”

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