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Our View: Tenant clogs our courts

Published: Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014 5:30 a.m. CST • Updated: Friday, Jan. 24, 2014 11:23 a.m. CST

Northwest Herald Reporter Jim Dallke’s Dec. 28 story about a McHenry landlord and her tenant reads like a horror story that most cable TV stations would snap up as a movie script.

But Anja Hertel’s account of her dealings with an elderly tenant who’s made her life a living hell with rotting meat and clutter isn’t entertainment, it’s quite real. And it’s quite a cautionary tale for anyone who rents property to a stranger.

In Hertel’s case, it’s even more troubling since Hertel has been forced to share her own home with a woman whom she says lied about her real identity when she rented a room in response to a Craigslist advertisement.

Hertel said Marion Berntsen, 73, has called the police to her home at least 10 times making outrages claims. Several other area landlords say Berntsen did the same thing to them and that she filed frivolous lawsuits against them.

She also has a warrant for her arrest in nearby Fontana, Wis.

Berntsen, and others like her, claim they are sovereign citizens who aren’t subject to laws and regulations, yet they use the law they claim lack of jurisdiction over them to tie up the court system and make life difficult for others who have the misfortune of coming into contact with them.

Meanwhile, Hertel has not only been unsuccessful evicting Berntsen, she’s spent thousands in legal fees fighting Berntsen’s ridiculous claims against her, including an order or protection and claims that she’s stolen items from her tenant.

Berntsen also has requested a jury trial for her eviction, which will be a waste of time for many. To add insult to injury, Berntsen is recognized by the courts as a pauper so she can torment people without paying required legal fees.

It’s not easy to find a solution to these frivolous court filings, but we’d hope judges recognize these charades sooner rather than later and dismiss the claims before more time and money is wasted.

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