Shortage of local apartment rentals hitting tenants hard - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Shortage of local apartment rentals hitting tenants hard

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - Apartment rental rates continue to increase in San Diego County and tenants are having a tough time.

“I look for places to live and I see places that are just falling apart but the prices just keep going up, up, up,” said graduate student Maggie Flood.

After moving to San Diego from New York, Flood rented a studio apartment for a year in Pacific Beach until her landlord kicked her out and nearly doubled the rent.

“All the appliances in the building were from the 1940s or 50s. I mean they were falling apart,” she said.

The next apartment Flood rented was in Ocean Beach but that one had a mold and mildew problem.

“We had leaks in the walls and the landlord came in and said, 'it's fine,’” said Flood.

Part of the problem is too many people looking for apartments and not enough rentals on the market.

“(Rates) are going up and a lot of it has to do with supply and demand,” said local property manager Susan Schwartz.

But Schwartz believes most landlords want to keep their tenants because it’s just good business.

“The tenants are not going to put up with items that are not working, appliances, mold, they're just not going to put up with that,” said Schwartz.

If your apartment is in need of serious repairs, the first step is to put your landlord on notice in writing.

Then, if he still fails to make the necessary repairs it may be time to take matters into your own hands.

In California, tenants have three options if the apartment defect poses a serious threat to health and safety.

You can make the repairs yourself and deduct them from the month's rent.

You can refuse to pay rent until the repairs are made.

Or, you can abandon the apartment altogether and void your lease.

Those options can be risky though if, for example, you stop paying rent just because the apartment needs minor repairs. The landlord could take you to court.

“There are options but that isn't the goal,” said Schwartz. “The goal is for the owner to keep a good tenant and the tenant to be happy in the place.”

But for tenant Maggie Flood, that never happened and she ended up moving out.

“It's very frustrating. Right now, I'm currently in my boss's living room trying to figure out what to do,” Flood said.

In California, landlords are required to notify tenants of a rent increase either 30 or 60 days in advance, depending on the percentage of the increase.

The City of San Diego also has a Right to Know ordinance that requires landlords to inform long-term tenants exactly why they're being evicted.

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