Business

Oakland sues landlords for unsafe conditions, harassment


The Oakland City Attorney has sued three landlords for allegedly harassing and trying to illegally evict tenants, escalating concerns that renters still face dislocation and dangerous conditions despite enhanced protections during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The suit claims the landlords of three Oakland rentals harassed tenants and forced them to live in unsafe and squalid apartments for at least two years and continuing during the pandemic.

“This case presents some of the most extreme harassment and exploitation we’ve encountered in our tenant protection actions,” Oakland City Attorney Barbara J. Parker said in a statement. “We will not tolerate this flagrant abuse in Oakland.”

The cases highlight the growing tensions between landlords and tenants during the coronavirus pandemic. Although the Judicial Council of California has enacted a temporary ban on eviction hearings in state courts, tenant advocates say renters unable to make payments have faced demands and threats from landlords. Health officials have sought to curb homelessness and unnecessary moves to control the spread of the virus.

Members of several tenant groups, including the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment or ACCE, have organized rent strikes and demonstrations, and called for greater government relief packages. Landlords have also started to chafe against eviction bans, in some cases suing to have the statewide moratorium and local bans overturned.

Most Bay Area cities and counties have passed tenant protections laws during the coronavirus pandemic, prohibiting evictions unless a tenant proves a health and safety threat.

The suit filed in Alameda County Superior Court in May charges three landlords, King V. Chau, James H. Chau, and Judy N. Chau, with flouting dozens of city notices to fix their properties, exposing tenants to unsafe conditions, and hiring men to intimidate at least one tenant after learning she was transgender.Related Articles

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The suit focuses on three properties, on the 1100 block of East 11th Street, the 1400 block of 8th Avenue and the 1000 block of Foothill Boulevard in Oakland. The property owners rented out several unpermitted units, which have been cited by city code inspectors more than 35 times, the suit said.

At the 8th Avenue home, a single-family house had been divided into 13 bedrooms, the suit says, including an illegally converted garage and rear auxiliary building. One tenant, a transgender woman, was locked out of the home, lost her possessions and was threatened by men hired by the owners, according to the suit.

Owners James and Judy Chau were issued 18 notices to address code violations, prosecutors …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Business

      

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