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SF Couple Keep Rent Controlled Apt. by Doing ‘Weekend at Bernies’ with Dead Roommate

San Francisco residents Rachel Smith and Shawna White were struck by tragedy this September when their roommate Ramon suddenly died from a heart attack. Rachel, a subtenant, expressed remorse while recounting the event, “Ramon was a decent man and roommate, he died too young…Shawna and I were very alarmed and sad when we found his dead body on our living room couch.”

Shawna added, “when we realized he was the only name on our lease and that we were going to lose our rent control, that was when the real tears started.”

“Yea,” Rachel continued, “You think losing your roommate of 10 months is going to be the worst of it, then you realize your landlord is going to jack up the rent by 400% and life really comes into perspective…I mean this flat is totally decent and we’re only paying $1100 plus utilities to share a room.”

Shawna added, “Ramon was a real solid guy, he was kind to people, he volunteered sometimes at the animal shelter, and he charged us really low rent…he was a gentleman, a scholar, and a master tenant.”

Rachel & Shawna (not pictured above) ‘weekend at bernied’ Ramon’s body (also not pictured above) for weeks in order to hold on to rent control. Photo: @hellabootsy

“So we decided to keep Ramon around a little longer,” Said Rachel.  “He was never a big talker anyway.”

“Ya, just long enough for us to figure out a new living situation, and you know, to like, get over our grief,” added Shawna.

At first, the couple placed a sheet over Ramon’s dead body, but once they realized this would arouse suspicion from visitors they quickly removed the sheet and simply dressed Ramon up in festive attire.  “We watched the movie ‘Weekend at Bernies’ a few times, and realized that appearances mean everything,” said Rachel.

Shawna, “Ya, we were like, ‘let’s let Ramon be Ramon’, so we dressed him in his favorite party shirt and stapled him upright sitting in his favorite part of the couch.”

“The real challenge was taking him to the Treasure Island Music Festival with us,” said Rachel.  “We had gotten the tickets together months ago and everyone was expecting to see us there with Ramon, so we strapped Ramon into one of those three-wheeled electric wheelchairs and put mirrored sunglasses on him and away we went.”

Treasure Island Music Festival. Photo by Stefan Aronsen

“We knew the jig was up when the smell began to overpower the taxi cab air fresheners we had hidden all over him,” Rachel confessed.

“Ya,” said Shawna, “we had to admit to ourselves that the sweet, rent-controlled ride was over, and we gave Ramon up to the morgue.  We are now looking for a new place because our rent is going up to $3,600 plus utilities starting next month.”

“If anyone has a spare room for two females that is cat-friendly, for less than $1200 a month please contact us,” said Rachel.  “We renamed our cat Ramon, in honor of our fallen master tenant.”

Rachel and Shawna renamed their cat ‘Ramon’, in honor of the master tenant that once kept their rent at a reasonable rate

Rachel and Shawna are currently out on bail and facing charges of abusing a corpse, identity theft and criminal impersonation.  Also, this story and its characters are totally fictional, and all images used are for dramatic effect and do not in any way represent reality.


Want more rent-controlled housing in San Francisco so that Rachel and Shawna have a place to live when they get out of prison?
Vote Yes on Prop 10 this November

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Alex Mak - Managing Editor

Alex Mak - Managing Editor

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