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New Investigation Uncovers Bad Housing Conditions For Renters In San Luis Obispo County

Posted by Denis Zilberberg
Filed in Premises Liability

A recent investigation by the San Luis Obispo Tribune took a deep dive into the unfortunate circumstances of SLO County tenants who are trapped in dilapidated housing. The reporters found tenants caught in a system that should enforce state habitability codes, but instead, it allows unaccountable landlords to rent unhealthy and unmaintained units to their residents.

Property owners have a legal duty to ensure the safety of their tenants and their visitors while on the premises. When a property is not regularly inspected and maintained, property owners should be held liable for any injuries that occur. If you are trapped in this unfair system, the Santa Barbara premises liability attorneys at the Law Offices of John B. Richards are here for you.

Who Are These Renters?

The Tribune talked to tenants in Oxnard, Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, Santa Paula, and Ventura. They teamed up with the Promotores Collaborative of SLO County and members of The Center for Family Strengthening.

They surveyed almost hundreds of tenants online and in person. Many tenants primarily spoke Spanish. Large numbers of the surveyed are low-wage workers living in apartments and homes in poor neighborhoods.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 40% of SLO county residents rent. More than 50% of these renters live check-to-check, working in either:

  • Agriculture
  • Tourism

Many tenants spend their whole lives in rental housing—growing up, marrying, raising children, and retiring in homes with unhealthy conditions. They stay without complaining because their housing options are limited and speaking out to or against landlords may lead to having no home at all.

What Did They Find?

Tenants surveyed were asked how they dealt with rental unit problems. They could select more than one response from these answers:

  • They fixed problems themselves
  • They lived with them
  • They got help
  • They received no help from landlords
  • They asked the city or county for help

A large percentage (40%) of the tenants said they repaired problems themselves, lived with problems or received no help from landlords.

Nearly 60% of renters reported their landlords eventually fixed issues, but 20% of these same tenants reported making their own fixes or putting up with problems for long periods and having their rent raised after issues were fixed.

The survey revealed a host of unhealthy housing issues that renters were dealing with, including:

  • Pests (cockroaches, bedbugs, etc.) – 39%
  • Plumbing issues – 37%
  • Mold – 34%
  • Broken windows – 19%
  • Roof leaks – 13%
  • Smoke/carbon monoxide detectors not working – 13%
  • HVAC not working – 12%
  • Old carpets – 8%
  • At least one of the above – 83%

When Should I Contact A Lawyer?

Property owners owe a duty of care to others. This care should include their tenants, guests, visitors, and employees. If they neglect this duty of care, the only option is to hold them liable.

We are experienced in handling the cases of clients who have been injured in various ways on other people’s property.

If you or a loved one has been injured because of the careless or negligent actions of a property owner in the Santa Barbara area, reach out to the Santa Barbara premises liability lawyers at the Law Offices of John B. Richards for a free consultation of your case by clicking here or calling 805-683-2736.


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