A SLO County Superior Court judge granted Grand View Apartments' request to go out of business and evict its tenants.
Grand View's tenants' attorney and legal director for the SLO Legal Assistance Foundation, Stephanie Barclay, said the court's Sept. 23 ruling disappointed her and her clients.
"We were hoping to get more time for the tenants, but unfortunately the law allows Grand View to go out of business instead of making the apartments safe and habitable for its tenants. Some municipalities have ordinances in place that provide extra tenant protections, but such protections do not exist in San Luis Obispo County," Barclay said.
- File Photo By Jayson Mellom
- THE PLAN A SLO County judge granted the Grand View Apartment owners permission to go out of business and legally evict their tenants.
Judge Ginger Garrett ruled to continue a temporary restraining order that was put into effect in May. Grand View isn't allowed to collect rent from its tenants due to the subpar conditions of the apartments, and landowners aren't allowed to retaliate against the tenants, either.
However, Garrett did allow the apartment complex's owners to begin serving notices to vacate, starting on Sept. 27.
Tenants who have lived there for fewer than 18 months will be given 60 days' notice; tenants that have lived there for 18 months or longer as well as all U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) tenants will get 90 days' notice.
All tenants who vacate the premises on or before their respective notice dates expire will receive a full refund on their entire security deposit within seven days of vacating the premises, according to court documents. These tenants will also get a $1,000 reimbursement for relocation expenses—a per-unit payment that will only be given to the tenant on the lease.
As part of the process, the court ruling states that the owners will prepare a weekly Friday report starting on Oct. 4 for the tenants' attorneys showing the tenants who've left their units, the unit number, and copies of the checks made payable to the tenants.
At a Sept. 20 court hearing for the case, John Fowler, the CEO of Peoples' Self-Help Housing, was brought in as an expert witness to inform the court what would happen if the owners made the tenants vacate the complex.
"There's not an immediate place for them to go. The vacancy rate in Paso Robles is extremely low, below 2 percent to probably above 1 percent," Fowler told New Times.
Eviction would result, he said, in the 54 families—there are 55 units, but one is for the on-site manager—going to live with relatives, sleeping on couches, staying in shelters, in cars, and possibly on the street.
"It's just not a good situation, because if they lose their housing, it also affects the stability of their life," Fowler said. "They can lose their job because now they don't have a place to get dressed or their kids don't have a place to do homework."
Barclay said although her clients will no longer be tenants of the complex, her team intends to pursue just compensation for the damages her clients have incurred and the injuries they have suffered.