Pinoy families fighting landlord despite rising rent and eviction threats

ALAMEDA, Calif. – For Filipina American Gina Yambao, who is a single-working mother of three, the idea of being displaced is slowly becoming a reality.

Yambao and her fellow tenants of the Bay View Apartments in Alameda say that despite a newly passed rental ordinance that limits rent increases to five percent and subjects those increases to a mediation process with the city – it’s simply is not enough.

The Alameda City Council says the existing moratorium will prohibit residential rent increases of 8 percent or more and “no cause” evictions, until March 31, 2016 in an effort to stabilize the rental market until the new ordinance becomes effective.

Resident Rommel Laguardia says, “This month is critical for us because after the moratorium lapse the city didn’t pass a strong enough ordinance but half-in-half having the just cause eviction put back in the ordinance as well as the capital improvement gives the loophole to the landlords to then evict us if they still wanted to.”

Sam Gutierrez of the Filipino Advocates for Justice, a group that is advocating for the residents, says, “We’re trying to get real rent control that will keep rent increase at 1 or 2 percent and connected to the CPI and also to make sure that the only reason for a landlord to evict is through just cause eviction.”

Residents say they are being harassed by their landlord through the construction taking place of the property.

“They did a lot of construction on the property without notice and there’s a hole in my bathroom and they haven’t fixed it,” said Yambao. “It’s been two months now. Security wise for my kids, there are a lot of debris from the workers. There’s a lot of noises from the morning to the night. We just want security if we are going to stay here or not.”

According to an article in the East Bay Express the landlord Matt Sridhar of San Jose-based Sridhar Equities LLC, slammed Alameda’s rent control proposal and threatened to sell the property if rent control is enacted in Alameda.

Balitang America attempted to contact Sridhar but no one was available for comment.

Meanwhile the tenants say that despite their uncertain future they will push for rent control.

Laguardia adds, “It’s going to be a fight till the end to put it that way.”

The tenants and their advocates say they are collecting signatures for initiatives on this November’s ballot to enact or expand rent control and eviction protections for tenants.

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