CA landlord says tenants owe $100K in rent but can't evict them due to COVID-19 protections

Luz Pena Image
Thursday, April 7, 2022
CA landlord says tenants owe $100K in rent but can't evict them
Pleasanton homeowner says his tenants haven't paid rent for 26 months citing COVID protection laws, and he can't afford to pay the mortgage.

PLEASANTON, Calif. -- In 1986, Gary R. bought his dream home in Pleasanton. A four-bedroom house with a pool and a view of the mountains.

36 years later, his dream home is now an income property, but for the past 26 months, he hasn't made any income.

"For over two years I have tenants that haven't paid a single dollar," Gary told Luz Pena, a reporter for our sister station KGO-TV in San Francisco.

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After California extended its rent relief program by three months, preventing the eviction of thousands of people, families are waiting for state aid.

Gary said the couple who rents the house has a business and the wife has a stable job, yet refuse to pay citing COVID rent protection laws.

"They are very aware that they don't have to pay because I can't evict them and that is what they are doing. They are purposely doing that to me and it hurts," said Gary.

Luz Pena: "How much do they owe?"

Gary: "It's over $100.000. It's a big amount of money."

Luz Pena: "Does this keep you up at night?"

Gary: "Yeah, I hate to admit it, but it's true. Yeah. I just don't know. I have talked to everybody about it and there is nothing you can do. There is nothing you can do."

He applied for the state's "Housing is Key" program but realized he didn't qualify. His property is in Alameda County. Alameda County is running their own housing relief program with federal funds.

"I applied for that last July and nothing. They told me they received the email and the application but nothing came out of it. So, I just applied again because I have another eight months and I'm applying for more money now," said Gary.

Alameda County received $129 million to help tenants and property owners with rent. They received over 13,000 application and so far approved close to 6,000.

The East Bay Rental Housing Association says many landlords are on the verge of losing their properties as they wait for the state or county programs for help.

"They are getting out of the business because it's just too complicated and restricted to run the business, or they are getting out of the business in the Bay Area," said Derek Barnes with the East Bay Rental Housing Association and added, "Perhaps the state should've run the entire program for all of the municipalities. Right you can probably make an argument that that could be been more efficient."

As to Gary, he doesn't know how much longer he can hold on to his property.

"I'm basically zeroed out at this point. I have $50 in my savings account. I have a big problem. I just paid for my real state taxes and my mortgage payments. I'm clear through April but I'm going to have borrow some money in May," said Gary.

What some property owners are considering now is to sell.

The Housing Director for Alameda County said they are prioritizing small property owners and low income tenants who may be at risk of homelessness. She said they are running out of money and won't be able to help everyone even if they qualify. As to property owners like Gary- she says if their tenants don't pay them they're going to have to take them to court.