San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu has filed a lawsuit against the owners of three Chinatown buildings, all single occupancy hotels, over the unsafe living conditions of tenants.
Unsafe living conditions: The tenants have long-standing complaints of deteriorating conditions of the properties, including non-functional appliances, infestations of mice and insects and insufficient hot water.
Moreover, Notices of Violations dating back to 2018 list various infractions, including plumbing issues, exposed electrical wiring, mold, unsanitary shared restrooms, broken doors and locks and damaged ceilings, floors and walls.
“Inhumane”: One of the residents, Yan Fen Liu, told KTVU that since new owners took over one of the buildings in 2014, their living conditions have only gotten worse. She argues that their rent payments should secure them a clean and safe living environment at the least.
“These are first generation immigrant tenants who were taken advantage of, being forced to live in conditions that are unacceptable and many would say inhumane,” Chiu told KTVU. “The owners of these three particular SROs did not meet their responsibility under the law. They need to be accountable.”
About the lawsuit: The lawsuit was filed against owners Jeff Appendrodt, Shailendra Devdhara, Kamlesh Patel and five associated limited liability companies for the three single room occupancy (SRO) hotels located at 1449 Powell Street, 790 Vallejo Street and 912 Jackson Street in Chinatown.
The lawsuit accuses the property owners of violating state housing law and California’s Unfair Competition Law, alleging that they profited from renting out dwellings with violations, creating an unfair advantage over compliant landlords. The property owners may face fines amounting to millions of dollars.
Unresolved violations: City officials also noted that there are at least 14 unauthorized SRO rooms and 21 unresolved violations related to health, sanitation, structural damage and unpermitted work. The city is seeking penalties, fees and injunctive relief to rectify the violations at these properties.
“For years, we’ve tried to bring these properties into compliance and made only modest progress. Our warnings were ignored. Our violations were disregarded. That changes today,” Department of Building Inspector Director Patrick O’Riordan said, according to CBS News.