Illegal Rental Practices

These bulletin boards at Catholic Charities in Downtown Fresno are often covered with flyers offering a variety of services to low income people.

Some are advertisements of homes for rent a few recently caught the eye of Program Director Lydia Gutierrez.

Lydia Gutierrez, Catholic Charities: "Such brand new immaculate homes and the cost that they were looking for people being able to stay in them."

The homes were in affluent parts of town similar to these. After a little investigation, Gutierrez learned the owners were trying to save their homes from foreclosure.

"People that were being evicted and I think that is the nature of the beast; people find out there are other situations that are going on and they figuring a way that they can make a profit from it."

One homeowner was looking to rent each room in his home to two people at 600-dollars per person. In a three-bedroom home, the total rent would amount to 36-hundred dollars.

"They call it doubling up; being able to double up in some homes to survive because of the little amount of income that they do have."

Gutierrez says it's the poor and people with few other options who end up renting the rooms.

"Maybe their credit history, things that are required the first and last month's rent a lot of these people don't have that kind of money."

It's a situation code enforcement officers in the city of Clovis have come across in recent months.

Dwight Kroll, Clovis City Planner: "It's possible our code enforcement officer has fielded some calls that way, I think given the market we also understand there might be come extended families greater extended families moving into single family residences."

Every city in the Valley has its own ordinance on rental properties. In Clovis, homeowners in single-family districts are allowed to have only "4" unrelated people living their home.

"There is a lot of people in the community that don't realize they are doing something that is in violation."

Lydia Gutierrez understands people are desperate and don't want to lose their homes but believes they may be taking advantage of people who are in even worse off.

"I have individuals that come in and are living in their car when they get here when they are in emergency situations like that, I just think that some folks need to be careful."

Code enforcement officers tell me they normally only find out about these situations if a neighbor complains.

Usually they simply go out and inform homeowners if they're in violation but they will issue a citation of the problem continues.

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