Editor’s Note: The photos are from different units that show similar issues.
Dec 22, 2015 (San Diego) When I first met Irving Santos, he spoke of some of the issues he had with his rental place. Things like rats, and other critters. Things like lamps not working in the living room. These sound incredible when you think about the United States.
So Reporting San Diego went today to visit with Irving, his sister Julie and a few of their neighbors. This complex is on 291 South 39th Street in San Diego, which is an area of town where poverty is rampant. The property itself goes to the early part of last century and has not been kept up.
There was a common theme in talking with the neighbors, whether it was the Santos, Leonel Miranda (their downstairs neighbor), Bernarodo Olivares or Janet Miranda, they have complained to the owner for years about the conditions and the owner has not responded to their needs. Or when they have, it’s been with the lowest possible fix possible.
The current owner of the property is Hilda Rincon, who coincidentally was at the property with a possible investor to show it around. She refused to talk to Reporting San Diego. What she did tell us was that they are following the city instructions to fix things. That was the extent of our conversation. There will be more on this bellow.
So what are the conditions on these properties, and it matters little what housing unit you go into. There is a constant humidity kind of smell, with ancient carpets when they exist, old windows, floors that are chipping or falling apart. There is also quite a bit of mold, and you can smell it. In fact, every neighbor showed me the results from a mold testing company. Every home came positive for mold.
Oliveras raised the issue that he told the owner over two months ago about the handle, but that has not been fixed. That is a minor issue. When his neighbors, upstairs, the Santos, was their clothes in the washing machine, his toilet overflows. He showed us video and we took a photo of it. This should not be happening.
They all raised the issue that the floor was not up to snuff, and that some windows, which are old, have broken Julie Santos went to the hospital and got 10 stitches after one of the windows broke. Their neighbors have had them break with a good rain.
When it rains, water leaks in. Some of this water is leaking over electrical outlets. In fact, one of the roof leaks is over a washing machine.
Here is the mold that exists on all units, some under sinks, some in showers.
Here is some of the external conditions. These include what looks like termite damage as well.
And as a bonus this is one of the kitchens.
Irving Santos filed a complaint with the city, and the city did send and inspector. The inspector did say that there were serious habitability issues and that they may have to condemn the property. But the city has given the owner a chance to fix the issues, Today she was there with an investor, and she will be the co-owner with somebody else. It is not clear exactly how this goes. That said. Mario Becerra who represents both as a broker, spoke to the tenants today.
He said that there were a series of things the city of San Diego told them they needed to do. The first, is to send an exterminator. The residents would prefer the place be tented, but they are going to try without a tent first.
According to Becerra they are also intending to fix the structures inside and out and up to code. He also told residents that starting January they will pay the rent to a person called Ron, which is going to be the co-owner of the property.
This fix, the repairs that need to be done, and are quite extensive, are seen as a long term investment. This has brought other fears from the residents. Once the place is fixed up, a few residents expect the rent to go up, or to see their lease not renewed. There is also next to no trust that the owner has any good faith towards them.
We have contacted the city in the past about these conditions and the city said that tenants need to alert the city as a first step to fix uninhabitable cognitions. This step was taken by these residents, and it does appear that the property will get important and critical fixes, but it will not be overnight. These units are in such bad shape that it will take time for all the interior and exterior remodeling to happen.
One serious concern is that the mold conditions are such that many of the residents have developed upper respiratory infections or asthma, and there are small children on the property as well. Right now they also worry that the extermination might kill or seriously hurt their pets. But as one of the residents put it, they need to let them do this, and fix the property, wether they trust them or not.