Clinically depressed guest. What to do? Squatter?

Hi Everyone,

I have a very distressing situation.

I had a guest book a few months ago. This guest had no reviews but had a high powered job at a local company. I spoke to her and got no red flags. In fact she seemed quite easy going and nice.

As time moved along, things got a bit more bizarre.

She got every meal delivered. Ok, not much wrong with that. Her hand would reach out of the door to retrieve the package from delivery. Ok, Covid, I get it.

She texted me at one point to ask me not to be alarmed if I saw an ambulance. She claimed she was on a new heart medication. I checked in on her multiple times and she said she was fine and coming home.

I kept getting requests for bookings so I always reached out to her first to ask if she was going to stay longer as I would give her preference.

This is when it got weird.

She just stopped responding the me. I didn’t ever see her around the house. There was no noise at all.

My other tenants/guests in the building became alarmed with the police kept showing up. The called me to let me know.

Because she when totally off the grid, I started calling local hospitals and found she had been just released from a second hospital

The next time the cops showed up they informed me that they were doing a “wellness check” and that her employer was concerned as she did not show for many days.

Fast forward to yesterday, her “checkout” date.

I messaged her “thanks for staying with me” etc., and no response.

I listened from the basement to see if I heard footsteps and there was nothing. Not wanting to enter alone, I got the police to go in, the same officers who had been there a week prior. When they opened the door you could see a trail of blood on the floor. The apartment was full of all the containers of food piled in drawers, on tables, on the floor, everywhere and flies, bugs and stink.

What was most disconcerting was that her laptop was on the bed, dead and her cell phone also dead in the kitchen. Given the blood on the floor, it began to be considered a crime scene. Terrifying.

I filed a missing persons report and helped the police by calling local hospitals to see if she was at any of them. A few hours later I did get a call from a social worker who said my guest had authorized him to call me with an update. Thank goodness. He told me she is at a mental health hospital and being treated. He also indicated that she is concerned about her job and her “housing”.

I have new guests scheduled to come August 5th.

The police instructed me to get rid of the trash because it was entirely overwhelming. I started cleaning up and to be safe, changed the lock.

After that I started to feel uneasy and researched “squaters”. This guest has stayed longer than a month and now having researched this topic, have found that tenant law may have kicked in.

What do I do now?

There is so much damage to the apartment itself, the bed, the bedding, the blood, the debris and bugs.

I was so thankful that she was ok that I cried with relief. At the same time, what am I to do? She is being released sometime next week. All her possessions are there and her term is over.

I called airbnb and it was one of the most frustrating experiences I have ever had with them. I got transfered around as they tried to categorize this issue. Finally the support person who sounded like she was outside suggested that they would contact the guest. I felt totally unheard. She’s in a hospital with NO PHONE. Didn’t they hear me?

Any suggestions would really help me. I’ve never been in this place before!

Thank you!

Your Bad. Maybe now you understand why we never recommend letting guests stay more than a week or two.

I would not let her back. Bugger ‘tenant rights’!!

Get her stuff out and store it somewhere accessible to you, but safe – garage(?). If she shows up call the police. After they arrive, retrieve her luggage and give it to her, and tell her you’re done. Don’t argue, but do not give in to letting her return to your space.

Have the number of your local woman’s shelter handy and offer to call them for her. The call a taxi or Uber and sk her politely to leave.


Thanks Ken.
In our city, if you don’t live in the property, Airbnb rentals need to be a minimum of 28 days. I bet the city did not think about this thorny problem when they mandated that. Also, due to Covid a landlord in my state can not begin an eviction until 4 months from now so that is a good 7 months that could be at risk.

Woman’s shelter is probably a good idea. Our state has a number of good resources. I did inform the social worker that I had another guest coming and her stay was over. Yes, I have changed the locks and will safely store her things. Most appreciated.

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This may sound cold, but you need to be safe and protect your property. Even if some tenant right has kicked in, she hardly seems like she has the mental ability right now to undertake a suit. I hope you took pictures of the condition of you apartment. I favor the recommendations about storing her belongings and referring her to a shelter. I would let whoever called you from the hospital know because the hospital needs to have a discharge plan for her and it can’t include you.


Brilliant - thank you. I have all the photos yes and the police report. Thanks for letting me know about the discharge plan and no, it cannot include me. She is an attorney so there is that wrinkle.

Hey @Courtenay_Clifford, tenant laws would have set in by now. Your best course of action is to CYA at this point. You should be able to do that through the “abandonment clause”. The tenant only needs to not respond to a certified letter for 7 days. If she’s admitted to a psych hospital, she will be there for likely 30 days at least. Either way, you should mail that letter today - it needs to be certified and return-receipt requested. You’re supposed to mail it to her “last known address”, which is basically the airbnb unit right now. I am confident she won’t be out to respond in 7 days and that will allow you to re-claim and re-rent the unit. Also, I’m sending you a PM to confirm your state. Also, hush-up about changing the locks because that is most definitely illegal until she doesn’t respond to this letter in 7 days :wink:


Yes on it. Yes RI
I have the original lock I can put back on.
Hospital says she’s coming back next week.

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Not great that she’s a lawyer, but even if she sues you and wins something, it will be worth getting rid of her.

And that is max 3 months rent @Courtenay_Clifford. There are some other notices you should be sending her as well - tenant’s failure to maintain, etc. All of this will help if she becomes an issue; however, her being a lawyer with a career might actually work in your favor. She probably won’t want to screw up her life and reputation more than she already has. Just CYA, CYA…Here’s a link to the statutes in RI.

And there are free forms for some of the required notices at the end of this pdf:


Thanks. Does anyone know the exact wording I should use or how to direct me to the proper form. I’m not finding anything. So appreciated!

Which form exactly? Did you look at the pdf above? There are RI tenant notices at the end. Let me have a look around and I’ll get back to you - I think there are several notices to give. But the letter about abandonment is most important right now. I’ll look for it!

edit to add: that pdf of the housing book, P. 17, paragraph E. describes the letter you need to send regarding abandonment.

edit to add: P. 21 is a form for giving her notice of noncompliance - regarding how she is keeping the unit (not maintaining it) as well as any other things she might be doing that are in non-compliance and page 22 is a notice of termination of tenancy. I would send both as both have a certain amount of days inherent in their notice (20 days and 30 days respectively). This way, if you need it, you’re ahead and already counting the days down. Hopefully you won’t need it. Hopefully she won’t respond to the letter re: abandonment - send that today, that is your easiest and fastest and cleanest way out.

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She may have a home - you can also send certified copies to her work and ask if they can forward it to her home address - she should have a base where her mail is delivered.

NO!!! Keep it changed and be quiet about it. You do NOT want her back in your home.

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@Courtenay_Clifford update us sometime on how this turns out. Good luck.

Thank you. Would it hold up in court of law if she can’t receive it because she’s in a hospital?

Honestly, I’m not sure. But it wouldn’t hurt to have the letter and all of the notices done just in case. The eviction courts opened July 1 for new evictions in RI unless the property gets federal assistance or has federally-backed mortgage, in which case you can’t evict until July 25.

I’m guessing she will leave and/or pay on her own accord once she gets stabilized at the hospital. It’s unlikely that she’s always this big of a mess and that it’s only because of this depressive episode that she’s going through (her career is evidence of past stability).

If for some reason, she does continue to be a problem, then you’ll want to be prepared to evict. How soon you can evict will depend on the property (re: federal assistance/mortgage) but you have to deliver notice first and that will get you past July 25 anyway.

Here’s a link to a form for eviction for reasons other than non-payment of rent. If you can go that direction, it’s a better bet right now (because of housing insecurity caused by covid, it will be better received by the courts if it’s non-rent related). It sounds like you could tick the box under “Cases Involving Public Safety” for “Disruptive behavior that could lead to physical altercations or harm towards another”. I’d try that route.

But, just for reference, squatter issues in RI are nothing like the squatter issues you typically hear about in California, etc. It’s not that hard to evict in RI. It’s take 10 years to effectively “squat” and that’s only if no one complains during that time, in RI. I wouldn’t worry about a longterm squatting issue, the laws there seem to be on your side. I’d just get the ball rolling for a case for eviction. Though, I’m doubting you’ll actually have to do it. This guest will likely be better and make better decisions once she’s released. And, if she’s not, you might could report her if she seems like a danger to her self and get her sent back to the hospital (that might sound harsh but it is the right thing to do for her).

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@JJD your advice is spot on and super helpful. I am grateful. I want to also treat her respectfully and as a human going through a rough time. I’ve noted all you’ve said. I will keep you posted.


Absolutely. I kind of wanted to mention that, but would understand if you weren’t feeling generous with her right now ,) But glad that you are. Compassion is powerful. This is probably just a mental health crisis and you will be able to get everything resolved between you guys. The fact that she had the social worker call you is really good sign. That speaks to her having conscience and consideration even during a rough time, so I’m thinking that it can be resolved without too much drama once she is stabilized.

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Wow, so sorry you are dealing with this.
A very strong second to the recommendation to inform the hospital that you and your place are not part of the discharge plan. This is worrisome to me as the social worker “said my guest had authorized him to call me with an update.” I’m sure the social worker would be thrilled to close the file on the discharge plan with living arrangements/address identified.
Insist that the guest cannot return due to unsanitary and dangerous living situation she caused. I would inform the social worker that the rental unit is unfit for human habitation and is shut down for extensive cleaning, sanitizing and repairs due to the damages created by their patient. Put responsibility back on the social worker by asking them to tell you where to ship the former guest’s belongings.
You have neither the capacity nor the resources to care for a severely mentally ill person nor be their parent. If you feel you want to help, make a donation to the mental health organization of your choice. It seems harsh but I think you need to extricate yourself as quickly and completely as possible.
Edited: I’m adding a note because this reads as if the grinch wrote it, and I am also concerned about stigmatizing mental illness. If my guest disappeared to have an emergency appendectomy, would let them back in? Presuming they were paid up, yes. The difference here to me is that one manifestation of the illness was making your property unsanitary and probably legally uninhabitable.
If I was very concerned about the person and really wanted to help, depending on my financial situation, I might even pay for their Uber when they came to pick up their property plus a couple nights at a hotel for them so they have time to make other arrangements. What I wouldn’t want is for their ride to drop them off at my door, ending up with them standing there helplessly with no other place to go.


The problem is that this “guest” is technically a tenant with a month to month lease at this point. OP has to give her 30 days notice at the very least and evict her if she doesn’t go and/or doesnt’ pay - or get out with the abandonment clause or the failure to maintain clause (though she has 20 days to correct that). I think she will leave on her own and even hopefully pay damages, but following the legal channels protects OP in the event that she doesn’t.