Landlord Being Sued for Allegedly Pushing Out SRO Tenants

The City of Oakland and housing rights attorneys filed a lawsuit today against real estate investors who recently purchased a downtown Oakland SRO. According to the lawsuit, the investors are trying to push low-income Chinese families out of a downtown Oakland SRO building.

Green Group, LP, an investment company, bought the building at 524 8th Street last year. In October 2015, James Kilpatrick, who helped Green Group purchase the building, and who owns a five percent stake in Green Group, told the San Francisco Business Times that he and his co-investors plan to upgrade the 38-unit SRO and rent it out to students and tech workers.

But Robert Salinas of the Sundeen Salinas & Pyle law firm told the Express Kilpatrick and his co-investors are trying to push out the building’s tenants. Salinas said that his law firm, along with Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker and the Asian Law Caucus will ask the court to enjoin Kilpatrick’s company from engaging further in activities that appear designed to pressure the building’s current tenants to leave.

“Almost all the residents are monolingual Cantonese speakers,” said Salinas. “They live and do their business in Chinatown. They’re low income. Some of them are elderly, and it’s a vulnerable population.”

Salinas alleged that Kilpatrick’s company recently tore out a communal kitchen in the building and removed bathrooms, making the building close to uninhabitable for the twenty-five families living there. He characterized the landlord’s actions as a form of constructive eviction.

“Landlords sometimes do calculated things to make tenants want to leave their homes like tearing out a floor, creating construction zone, constantly asking them to leave, even after tenants say their not interested, stopping garbage services,” said Salinas.

Kilpatrick said far from pushing out tenants, he and his co-investors have made the building safer for them.

“When we took over this building, despite having 39 residential units, it had zero smoke detectors, there was raw sewage I the basement, and raw meats being cured on the fire escapes with flies,” said Kilpatrick.

“We repaired basement, hired a pest company to cure the rodent and roach issues they were having,” said Kipatrick. “If we were really trying to be jerks and push people out, those aren’t steps we would have taken.”
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