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by Abigail Van Buren

Small Percentage of Owners Account for Huge Pet Surplus

DEAR ABBY: I'm writing regarding the letter in your column from the guy who complained about the freeloading guest. He and his roommates might want to seek the advice of a lawyer before taking any action.

I found myself in a similar situation and decided to get legal advice before changing the locks, etc. I was shocked to find that according to the law, my unwanted guest was now my "tenant" and I her "landlord." In order to get her out, I would be required to take her to court and evict her -- a 60-day process -- during which time she could remain in my home, placing me and my possessions at risk!

Another option my lawyer suggested was that I move out, and let my landlord evict her. Of course, that would mean I'd lose my deposit, ruin my credit, and leave myself open to a lawsuit from my landlord.

It took a month, but I tricked her into moving. I quit buying food, blocked all but local calls on my phone and disconnected the cable TV. I told her I had to move because my landlord had sold the house. I packed everything I own, but moved only a few of the valuables for safekeeping.

We now have a new rule at our house -- no temporary houseguests. -- BEEN THERE IN SPRINGFIELD, MO.

DEAR BEEN THERE: Your letter, viewed from a legal perspective, is certainly an eye-opener. After reading it, many hospitable souls may be tempted to roll up their welcome mats.