Nearly 200 current and former Paso Robles tenants filed a lawsuit against their landlords for alleged substandard conditions, and a SLO Superior Court judge ruled that current tenants wouldn’t have to pay rent.
According to the San Luis Obispo Legal Assistance Foundation (SLOLAF), a primarily volunteer organization that provides pro bono legal services to low-and moderate-income individuals, San Luis Obispo County Judge Ginger Garret granted the emergency orders on May 28.
The temporary restraining orders require the owners and the property manager of Grand View Apartments, located at 102 to 240 Spring St., to begin making the apartments habitable and safe, refrain from retaliating against the tenants, and refrain from collecting rent from the tenants.
SLOLAF Legal Director Stephanie Barclay said they’re feeling optimistic that the court looked at all of the evidence and agreed that there’s a health and safety emergency there.
“Our office frequently receives habitability complaints, but we can usually resolve them without litigation. The problems at Grand View Apartments are widespread and were blatantly ignored for a long period of time while the landlord frequently raised rents and didn’t make repairs. We felt litigation was the only way to solve the pervasive problems at Grand View Apartments,” she said.
The tenants filed a lawsuit on May 7 against the Grand View Apartments LLC, Ebrahim Madadi and Fahimeh Madadi (owners), and Nicolle Davis (property manager), alleging the owners and property manager knew their tenants lived in substandard conditions and did nothing about it.
According to the lawsuit, for the past four years, the property has been insect- and vermin-infested with rampant bedbug, cockroach, and rat problems throughout the units.
The property, the lawsuit alleges, also has a severe mold problem and dangerous gas and electric lines that render the premises uninhabitable.
“Throughout this period of ghastly living and, in part due to the stress and emotional distress arising from the circumstances described above, the tenants suffered a host of physical ailments to various degrees and at various frequencies,” the lawsuit claims.
According to the lawsuit, ailments included frequent episodes of flu-like symptoms, allergies, stomach pains, frequent and severe headaches, rashes, and unknown (and believed to be) insect bites.
When tenants complained to the on-site handyman or the property manager, the lawsuit alleges that they would get bounced back and forth between them, other tenants would be blamed for the problems, or they would be given excuses as to why the problems couldn’t be fixed.
According to the lawsuit, as a result of the owners’ and property managers’ failure to fix the property defects—while continuing to raise the rents—some tenants were forced to move out and were, therefore, effectively evicted.
The owners received a notice from the County of San Luis Obispo Public Health Department on Sept. 11, 2017, citing numerous health and safety code violations and declaring the property a “substandard building” as defined by the California Health and Safety Code. The lawsuit claims that despite this, the property owners still failed to abate the violations and continued to raise the tenants’ rent for the substandard units.
A full hearing is scheduled for July 11, 2019.