SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - A renters' rights nonprofit says there's an eviction crisis in California and rising rents are partially to blame.
Team 10 Investigative Reporter Jennifer Kastner uncovered eviction data in San Diego and interviewed a local attorney who specializes in helping tenants fight evictions. 10News also spoke to a San Diego mother who says she’s on the verge of eviction.
The mother asked that we hide her face and not disclose her name. She fears retaliation from her landlord. She says the rent for her modest apartment has been raised three times since December. It’s now more than $1,200 a month.
“I guess my only choice will be living in my car on the streets with my kid,” she tells us. She’s frustrated with her landlord, adding, “How can [they] do this to people who are living on section 8 and who are low-income?”
“I’d say we get two or three calls a day from tenants who are just being priced out of the rental market,” says attorney Christian Curry with San Diego’s Tenants Legal Center. Curry tells us he keeps very busy with eviction cases.
Tenants Together is an organization for renters’ rights. It reports that evictions in California are triple previous estimates, with an estimated 500,000 Californians facing eviction each year. The group fears that rising housing costs combined with lack of availability and short eviction notices are pushing renters into homelessness.
However, San Diego court records show a downward trend in eviction paperwork filings. There were more than 12,000 cases in 2013. In 2017, there were about 9,700 cases.
“Tenants have a lot of excellent rights. Most of them they don't know about them,” says Curry. He tells us that landlords must give renters a 60-day notice of a rental increase if it's more than 10 percent of the rent. “The landlord can't come shove you out. The police can't do it. That's been illegal in California for 175 years,” he explains.
Curry took us through the court process, explaining that a landlord has to file a lawsuit called an unlawful detainer and once a tenant gets served, he or she has five days to respond. He adds that court fees are $225 per tenant, but many tenants can qualify for a waiver. He tells us that a trial is set up to three weeks later and if the landlord wins, the tenant generally has a month to get out.
Curry says hiring an attorney to help navigate the eviction process is a good idea. He explains that the cost of getting legal representation is a lot cheaper than most people think. He tells us the charge is usually less than the price of one month’s rent.
There are also government resources for renters: