OAKLAND (KPIX 5) – Five separate lawsuits were filed in Superior Court on Tuesday against billion-dollar real estate investment company, Mosser Companies, with tenants accusing Mosser of harassment and violation of the protection order Oakland tenants.
“I want to live in peace,” said tenant Boualem Bechiri, explaining why he and his wife Zakia Hachoud joined a group of 17 tenants suing Mosser Companies, their owner.
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Much of the tenants on 18th Street East are from Algeria, the sense of community has helped them come together and made it easier to organize a trial, but they also claim that their nationality leads to discrimination.
“As soon as they hear your accent, they ignore you,” Bechiri said.
“When I call them, they are disrespectful because I have an accent,” said tenant Razika Tougaouga.
Mosser tenants in San Francisco have raised similar concerns about the harassment, they believe the harassment is intended to drive them out of their rent-controlled homes.
“I see a warning paper stuck to my door every day,” Tougaouga said.
Tenants Razika Tougaoua and her neighbor Lemya Hamar say that throughout the pandemic, unscheduled visits from their landlord have become commonplace.
“They never call me, they never send me anything, they just knock on the door and come,” Hamar said.
She says that more recently she was caught off guard changing her clothes.
“I was almost undressed, so I was shouting at them, ‘Please don’t do it again’, you are not allowed to come like this,” Hamar said.
The lawsuit over the 18th Street tenants is mostly made up of low-income families living in rent-controlled housing paying between $ 839 and $ 1,057 per month. If they move out, the landlord can increase the monthly rent by at least $ 1,000, the current market rate is around $ 2,300 per month for a bedroom in Oakland.
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“It’s $ 1000 more per month they earn, so there is a big incentive to make life less pleasant for tenants and encourage them to move,” said Ethan Silverstein, a lawyer for ACCE. Institute.
ACCE also represents tenants.
“This building uses a lawsuit as a last resort. These tenants have lived with this for years, ”said Silverstein.
Oakland’s Tenant Protection Ordinance is one of the strongest in the country. Landlords may violate some of the ways in which they fail to carry out repairs, abuse their right to access a tenant’s apartment, or attempt to induce a tenant to leave the accommodation through intimidation or coercion. .
The lawsuit also describes a range of habitability issues ranging from cockroaches to broken elevators, a lack of security leading to mail theft and the lack of a ramp for tenants with disabilities.
Tenants have also expressed concern about screenless second-story windows that they fear their children will fall out of.
In a statement, Mosser Companies said:
“We are a minority, female-owned family business with over 65 years of deep roots in the Bay Area community. We are constantly working to maintain safe and quality housing for all residents and to preserve their tenancies regardless of rent status, length of occupancy or any other condition.
“Mosser actively supports residents facing financial hardship due to the COVID economic crisis so that they can benefit from our government’s program to relieve their stress related to this debt. We are committed to maintaining and improving properties so that residents have a quality home. We have members of the maintenance and management team who live and work onsite at 425 East 18th Street. We are deeply attached to this community and since taking ownership we have made significant improvements including electrical systems, painting of common areas, installation of new carpets, provision of new mailboxes security, improving the outdoor yard and dog track, deep cleaning for COVID, upgrading to more efficient devices and increasing building security, especially in response to vandalism and d ‘other crimes that were exacerbated during the Shelter-in-Place in Oakland. “
These tenants say it’s stifling not to feel welcome at home, but right now there’s nowhere else in the area they can afford to relocate.
“I feel hassled to the point where you want to leave but you have no choice,” Bechiri said.
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