Making it in San Diego: Rules for residents facing eviction

Thousands of unlawful detainer cases

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Each year thousands of people in San Diego County face eviction from the place they call home. With rising rents and mortgage rates increasing, experts say that trend is about to get worse.

“On November 5 my family and I are going to be homeless because it’s very hard to find places,” said Margot Velez.

Velez is being evicted from her apartment, the complex she’s called home for nearly a decade. There’s a dispute about whether or not she’s paid the rent.

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Velez said she’s up-to-date. She explained the owners of the complex claim she’s about $3,000 behind, which is about three months rent.

Team 10 investigator Adam Racusin asked Velez if there’s a possibility she ends up on the street.

“Yeah, a real possibility,” she said.

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Velez is just one of the thousands in San Diego County facing an eviction.

According to San Diego County Court records, there were more than 9,000 unlawful detainer cases filed last fiscal year. Those are eviction lawsuits.

A report by the group Tenants Together, a statewide organization for tenants’ rights, stated landlords file an average of 166,337 eviction lawsuits annually in California, with a total of 499,010 households facing eviction in the three-year period. An estimated 1.5 million Californians faced court evictions over the last three years.

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"Evictions are on the [rise] in San Diego, and it's largely because there's just a depletion of rental stock,” said attorney Christian Curry with the Tenants Legal Center, a San Diego Law Firm. “Really, what it is is they get behind on their rent, and by the time they come to us usually they have the money to pay, but the landlord just won’t take it anymore."

Curry said rents are going up and many people can't keep up, but in the City of San Diego, there are laws to help protect renters.

San Diego's Tenants’ Right to Know regulations has a section that outlines termination of tenancy guidelines.

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According to the regulations, a residential tenancy of more than two years duration shall not be terminated, nor shall its renewal be refused unless for things such as nonpayment of rent, the landlord intends to withdraw all rental units in all buildings or structures on a parcel of land from the rental market or the owner of blood relative plans to occupy the rental unit as their principal residence.

If you’ve broken the rules and you haven’t been in your home for more than two years and you're facing eviction, there is a process for removal. 

According to Curry’s website, “After receiving an UNLAWFUL DETAINER [sic], the tenant/occupant must respond timely or lose the case. If you are personally served, you have only five calendar days to respond. If someone is served for you, you may have an additional 10 days. Weekends are counted but the last day to respond cannot land on a weekend (or holiday). If it does, the 'last day' carries over to the next business day. There are many defenses which can be raised.”

Curry said tenants should know their rights and try to talk with the landlord ahead of time. Renters may be able to work out a deal that benefits everyone.

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