‘Know your rights’ in rental conflicts

OCEANSIDE —  “As long as there are landlords and renters there are going to be conflicts,” said Frank Riley, office director of San Diego (HUD) Housing and Urban Development Division.
Several renters at the Casita De Cortez apartments, who did not wish to state their names, said that the apartment’s manager has given them short or no notice on home repairs, has entered apartments without notification, has ordered them to comply with her requests and has not sufficiently answered their questions.
“None of us have money to move out,” one tenant said. “I don’t know where to go. There are no other places that are low-income that we can find. There are waiting lists.”
An employee of Casita De Cortez apartments said she is not aware of any tenant complaints and cannot comment on any management/tenant communications due to privacy laws.
Oceanside Housing Director Margery Pierce said she had not heard any complaints about the management of Casita De Cortez apartments that receives HUD subsidies to rent to low-income residents. The issue of landlord and tenant conflicts is broad and often frustrating for parties involved, but there are resources.
The National Conflict Resolution Center in San Diego offers tenant/landlord mediation. North County Lifeline, in Oceanside and Vista, has referrals to legal advisers and fair housing advocates.
“I encourage a renter to research what their rights are,” said Kim McGrigg, media relations representative for Money Management International, a nonprofit credit counseling agency. “The more information a renter knows about their rights and responsibilities the better they can resolve any issues they have.”
Laws require landlords to give due notice, provide prompt repairs and treat all tenants fairly.
“Tenant landlord laws are in a handbook that can be picked up in our office,” Pierce said.
In addition to knowing state laws, renters should carefully review their rental agreement. “Request all communications be in writing,” McGrigg said. “It should be done both ways from landlord and renter and renters should keep a copy in their files.”
A bad attitude is not a crime, but it can cause tensions to rise. “I tell tenants not to feel frustrated, but to do something,” McGrigg said. “Sometimes a mediator is great fit for this situation. If the landlord/tenant relationship is not a great fit, pay attention to when the lease is due to be renewed.”

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