Fresno landlord trying to evict family during coronavirus crisis

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- California and the city of Fresno have announced an eviction moratorium for the duration of the coronavirus crisis, but that hasn't stopped some landlords from moving to kick out their tenants.

Rodolfo Velazquez, his wife, and seven kids have made a trailer into a home right next to his car parts business.

But as the coronavirus outbreak came, their other business, a Parlier restaurant, couldn't make ends meet and Velazquez says he told his landlord he couldn't make his rent for the first time in five years on March 15.

"Then he started harassing me, coming over here, and calling me and he went to park a trailer in front of my two gates so he won't let me work he don't let me do nothing," Velazquez said.

He says he gave his landlord legal paperwork saying he was unable to pay rent because of the coronavirus.

Soon afterwards, he says the landlord turned off water to the property. The electricity went out a couple of days later.

But Velazquez won't leave.

"I stay here because he says if he sees I'm not here, he's going to lock me out and I cannot lose all this because of him," he said.

Action News talked to landlord Frank Vega, but he didn't want to do an interview on camera.

Vega says he's been a good landlord and neighbor in this area.

He says the city of Fresno told him he doesn't have to provide Velazquez water, but he does.

He says the water line just had a hole in it, which he had fixed.

And he says the $1200 monthly rent on the small cement slab property just south of the Fresno Rescue Mission does not include utilities.

So he says Velazquez owes about $500 for PG&E, but the outage was just broken circuits.

He turned on the water and the electricity while Action News talked to him.

And he's upset Velazquez chose to spend money on legal protection instead of rent.

"He sent me a message saying 'That's really bad that you decide to pay the lawyer instead of paying me and you've been a good dad to your family in jeopardy'," Velazquez said as he showed Action News the text message.

Velazquez says he can pay soon if he can just keep working on cars.

But Vega wants him out no matter what, though he knows it can't happen immediately.

He says he served Velazquez with an eviction notice, but he doesn't intend to try to enforce it until the crisis is over.
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