Was ‘The Addams Family’ a Warning for Renters?

In the 1991 movie, The Addams Family, a lawyer swindles Gomez and Morticia out of their fortune — and evicts the entire family from their Gothic mansion as revenge for the casual torture he endured every time he walked through the door. While the movie isn’t an accurate portrayal of how evictions work, it’s a good reminder of renters’ rights, especially during the Covid-19 recession. Sure, the family lawyer Tully Alford may have actually had a decent legal case — that is, if he hadn’t skipped a crucial step in the eviction process. 

[ Read: Landlords Are Exploiting Loopholes in the Eviction Moratorium ]

Alford’s original plan is to hire a look-alike to pose as Gomez’s long-lost brother Fester and rob the family of their piles of gold (since the family doesn’t believe in banks). When that plan doesn’t work, Alford convinces a neighboring judge to evict the Addams from their home because Fester — not Gomez — is the sole owner and executor of the Addams family estate. 

If you ignore all the shady handshake agreements and corruption, Fester actually would have had a real case to evict, especially when we find out at the end of the movie that he did, in fact, lose his memory during a trip to the Bermuda Triangle. Even though he didn’t know it, Fester was the rightful owner of the property, which would have allowed him to begin the eviction process.

We don’t get to examine the will left by their parents, so we’re going to work on the assumption that Fester is the only owner, and the house would pass to Gomez if Fester dies. Because of this, Fester would have been able to evict the family like any other tenant. 

[ Read: How to Negotiate Rent With Your Landlord ]

However, since the Addams didn’t have a lease — but did pay the required fees each month to Alford — it’s safe to assume Fester evicted them without cause. And here’s where he made a serious mistake (besides, you know, bribing a judge): he never gave the Addams family an advance eviction notice. Even though requirements for eviction vary by state, an advance written notice is always required before landlords can evict a tenant. 

Instant evictions don’t exist. If your landlord doesn’t provide advance notice or follow all of your state’s requirements, you have the right to challenge the eviction and take Fester — I mean…your landlord — to court.

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Image credit: United Archives/Getty Images

Taylor Leamey

Personal Finance Reporter

Taylor Leamey is a personal finance reporter at The Simple Dollar who specializes in personal loans, student loans, mortgages, renters, and financial policy. Her reporting has also been featured at CreditCards.com, Interest.com, Reviews.com, MyMove.com, and elsewhere.

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  • Andrea Perez
    Andrea Perez
    Personal Finance Editor

    Andrea Perez is an editor at The Simple Dollar who leads our news and opinion coverage. She specializes in financial policy, banking, and investing.