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Rent Control Fight

Graphic by Joyce Yao

Each week, the editor’s of LA Progressive pick what they regard as a particularly insightful comment from one of our readers, both to draw attention to one particular reader’s thoughts and to encourage more readers to weigh in with their opinions. This week’s pithy "Feedback Friday" response comes from Gre, who commented on the article by Eushrah Hossain, “The Fight for Rent Control in Pasadena”, which was part of our coverage of our ongoing rent control coveage.

I hope Pasadena will get reasonable rent control. My previous apartment is located in the northwestern part of Alhambra, which is 10 minutes away from the Alhambra Rd of South Pasadena. Because of the proximity, that part of Alhambra has become really really expensive. I myself have just gone thru an eviction because of it. The following is my almost-a-year nightmare:

Immediately after the takeover, the new owner raised the rent for those who hadn’t sign the contract from $890 to $1250. For those who still have contracts, including me, had a really rough time despite we were protected until Nov 2017.

In the last two years, I started noticing apartment complexes near my 1-bedroom apartment were all vacated and being renovated. I felt really lucky and worry at the same time as my former owner didn’t even raise the rent for a decade! (I lived in there for 12 years.) Then, suddenly in Nov 2016, my former owner sent out new leasing contracts to every tenants and raised the rent from $850 to $890. Most tenants signed it unhappily and a few didn’t. 3 months later, I started to understand why the former owner made us sign a new contract – when the apt manager told everyone that some people from some bank would inspect the apartment complex… My intuition told me that they weren’t bank staffs at all – they weren’t in suits, they were just in causal clothing, looking around aimlessly. In Apr 2017, the apt manager gave every tenant a notice – the notice saying my apartment complex got new owners. Well, I understand my former owner, who doesn’t want to sell one’s property at the peak price?! And he was kind enough to renew everyone’s contract. As for the new owners, they are a rich family and people said they own a beer factory in China. The owner’s wife always carries expensive Louis-Vuitton handbags and parks her BENZ SUV on the RED side curb. I always asked myself, where the heck is the police when I need them?? I almost wanted to stop a police car and told him/her to look at the where his wife’s SUV parked.

Immediately after the takeover, the new owner raised the rent for those who hadn’t sign the contract from $890 to $1250. For those who still have contracts, including me, had a really rough time despite we were protected until Nov 2017. Every 2 weeks, notices about renovations were stuck on the front door. The first project carried out by the owner family was to replace plumbing! My home was turned upside down since then – dust everywhere, big holes in the walls… Some tenants got really angry and moved out even though the rent was still $890. Everyone felt like they were being used – we helped paying renovation expenses, we were treated like dirt by the new owner.

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In Nov 2017, everyone’s lease expired and many neighbors moved out of the 22-unit complex because of the rent increase (to $1250) and all of the hassles and insults from the new owner family. Even back then, I was in the process of shopping a new place. However, rents in Alhambra and SGV area are too expensive and I had hard times finding a place that I can afford. On New Year’s Eve of 2017, the new owner knocked loudly at my door and asked me rudely if he could remove the screen door and replace the front door. I replied him that he didn’t tell the management company to give out any notices and it’s holiday season! He looked very offended and leave.

Eushrah Hossain

Eushrah Hossain

In mid Jan 2018, the new owner STILL hadn’t fixed the washer in the laundry, which stopped working in Nov 2017. An elderly neighbor confronted with the owner’s wife about the issue. I later joined in the confrontation. On the next morning, I saw a 60-day notice on the newly replaced white door which the owner’s wife demanded me not to install any chain locks. As I tried to make sense of what had happened, I found the elderly neighbor who confronted with the owner’s wife also got one. She doesn’t speak English and I knocked on her door and explained the notice to her. She told me, “that’s her revenge.”

I felt hopeless every day during that time. I worried I would be on street after mid March. I was so depressed that the thought of suicide once flashed in my mind. In mid Feb, a friend introduced me to his coworker who got a halfplex for rent. FINALLY, I GOT A NEW PLACE at $1100 a month. The place isn’t in very good shape and has plumbing problem but it’s still better than out on the street.

Before I moved out of that part of Alhambra, I had a walk around and found many vacant apartments. As I look at all the open doors and windows of these vacant units, I wonder how many people would be like me. After I moved out, I started to look up info about my former landlord. I found out he owned more than ten apartments, many of them have over 15 units. The most shocking thing I found is that the owner family recently bought 2 big apartments with 20+ units in the span of just TEN days! The thought of old tenants being kicked out makes me very sick. There’s no way to stop landlords like this from becoming landlords and there’s no way to stop them harass tenants with 60-day notice!