Tenants at a property in downtown Santa Barbara say they are being pushed out of their apartments to make room for foreign students who will pay higher rent.
Susan Strong-Smith has lived in the same apartment on the 100 block of West Arrellaga for seven years.
She recently received a 60-day eviction notice, but got it extended to 90 days.
On one of the notices, there is an explanation for eviction. It’s written, “A business or economic desire for termination, owners desire to rent unit for higher rent.”
Strong-Smith has multiple sclerosis and is confined to a wheelchair.
She’s made her home fit her special needs- but now she has to pack up and move out by November.
“P.A.C Properties is evicting all of us that have been here a while, willy nilly, renting to foreign students so they can collect more rent, just cramming them in,” Strong-Smith said.
Evangeline Ballerini lives on the property and recently got a 60 day eviction notice, just days after her new roommate signed a new lease agreement.
Ballerini says she wasn’t given a reason, or the option to pay higher rent.
“You work to make a home and one morning you wake up and they’re just like ‘out’ no reason except you know they just want more money. It’s a business. It’s an investment. I guess you have that right, but what does it do to a community?” Ballerini said.
Both Ballerini and Strong-Smith say they aren’t the only ones. Several other tenants in multiple units on the same property were also evicted. Both women say after those people left, students moved in.
Alexander Lambrous of the Legal Aid Foundation of Santa Barbara County says there’s no rent control in Santa Barbara and renters are often at the mercy of the market.
“The very low vacancy market being less then 0.5 percent right now is a market factor that is empowering landlords to maximize their investments and maximize income. That’s where we are right now,” Lambrous said.
Lambrous said renters have rights and if a tenant has no where to go, he or she should not leave.
“The 30-, 60-, 90-day notice, when that times runs out, it does not give the landlord permission to have you physically removed by authorities. It basically gives the landlord permission in which to file an unlawful detainer complaint. Those cases typically run for about 30 days and its up to the judge to decide at trial or the parties to resolve at mediation whether to end the tenancy,” Lambrous said.
If you have any concerns you can contact the Legal Aid Foundation.