"Mayor Kevin Faulconer has not taken a stance for tenant rights.... He hasn't done that."
  • "Mayor Kevin Faulconer has not taken a stance for tenant rights.... He hasn't done that."
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Dozens of protesters rallied in front of a Linda Vista apartment complex Wednesday afternoon (April 27), demanding property managers immediately begin dealing with a backlog of habitability complaints ranging from deferred maintenance to rodent infestation to toxic mold growth.

"Tenant rights is an issue that must be dealt with," said Shane Harris, head of the local chapter of Al Sharpton's National Action Network. "Mayor Kevin Faulconer has not taken a stance for tenant rights. He said last year he was going to deal with this issue and send funds to the code-compliance department of San Diego. He hasn't done that, and we're going to take a stand against it."

Harris, flanked by residents of the Village Apartments, a 200-unit complex on the 7000 block of Eastman Street, aired their concerns over health and safety violations at the complex before marching a short distance to deliver what Harris described as "in excess of 100" complaints to management, which he said would also be presented to the city's code-compliance department and the city council at an upcoming meeting.

"I'm hearing about issues related to habitability — cockroach and rodent infestations, leaky roofs and windows, broken windows, electrical and plumbing issues — you name it. And I'm hearing that these issues have not been addressed," said Cliff Dover, an attorney engaged by the tenants to escalate their claims.

"When it gets to the point tenants start looking for someone to intervene on their behalf, it's likely they've been looking for relief on their own for some time to no avail. A lot of these families are non-English-speaking, and they tend to get taken advantage of. There seems to be a feeling in the housing community that these people are lucky to have a place at all.

"Low-income tenants are constantly being threatened with eviction."

Instead of resistance, protesters were directed to the management office's back lot, where a table was set up with several employees offering to log maintenance requests.

Sunrise Management president Joseph Greenblatt, who was not immediately available to offer comment to the Reader, told demonstrators that his company had recently acquired the management contract and was working to catch up on a backlog of deferred maintenance left behind by the property's previous management company.

Gustavo Peña, who said he's lived at Village Apartments for 20 years, disagreed with the timeline.

"This management company has been around for two years, and they've picked up problems that have been going on for the last 20," Peña said, claiming issues with his own unit had gone unaddressed and that his Spanish-speaking mother had been tricked into signing a contract in English affirming that there were no problems with the unit.

"I had both management and a mold-inspection company come into my home where I have mold issues in several rooms, and still I have not been offered a solution," said Peña of a walk-through that supposedly happened three months ago. "They just looked around, said, 'thank you,' and left.

"I asked if they would let us move into a mold-free unit while they fixed the problem, and they said, 'Yes, but we'll raise your rent by $200 to $300 per month.'

"They told us that if we don't sign this agreement that said that the property was in pristine condition, they'd raise our rent."

Failing immediate corrective action, Harris says the group will take their concerns to the city council sometime next month.

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Comments

Javajoe25 April 28, 2016 @ 6:34 p.m.

Don't move. And don't listen to the racist who would like you to believe this is all your fault. I'm sure you wouldn't have roaches if you spoke better English. Duh? Work with the lawyer and get your fellow tenants to join you. The landlord has no problem understanding your language, whatever it might be, when you hold out the rent check. These slumlords ought to be put in prison for some of the conditions they allow to exist at their properties. Takes forever to get rid of the rats, but that rent increase--youbetcha--that goes through lickety split! Don't let these greedy lowlifes get away with it. And ignore those who scream it is all the foreigners fault, We'd be better off if we had more of you and less of them.

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amiamida April 30, 2016 @ 12:04 a.m.

To the "journalist" commenting above, who can't proofread or properly use basic syntax and punctuation, and yet has the arrogance to criticize other people's mastery of English when it isn't their native language:

No one stays in that type of situation by choice. It shows an appalling lack of compassion to have the audacity to say "why don't you just move" to someone living paycheck to paycheck like an astounding number of people do, and who certainly cannot afford a rent hike for better housing, let alone a deposit + first & last months. How out of touch with the economic reality facing a growing number of Americans can you possibly be?

And that is besides the point. People shouldn't have to move out of their home because it is not properly maintained by its owner. That's how property rental works. When you choose to rent out a residence, and you decide on the price tag, that is the price you agree to charge for a home meeting the conditions of habitability outlined in the local codes. NOT a starting price for insalubrious housing that you then plan to increase if the tenant dares to ask within their rights for repairs or interventions to make the place livable--which it should be in the first place, at the agreed-upon price.

Those slumlords prey on the most vulnerable of us and rob them of their dignity, possibly of their health in the long run, and of the basic sense of safety they should be guaranteed when they trade their earnings for shelter every month.

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