• This is the fourth piece in a series to highlight real life issues for renters in Pasadena. This series is presented in association with Pasadena Tenants Union.

      RENTING IN PASADENA (4)

      Moving out on El Molino in Pasadena (Photo - Emmanuel Kraultez).

      Moving out on El Molino in Pasadena (Photo – Emmanuel Kraultez).

      Being at the mercy of a landlord is no way to live.  My rent has gone up $330 dollars a month over the course of four-and-a-half years.  That’s $3,960.00 more than when I moved in.  I had no idea that the city of Pasadena has virtually no laws on the books to protect renters.

      By Patti Tippo

      Patti Tippo

      Patti Tippo

      I moved to Pasadena from Beachwood Canyon.  Its common knowledge that since Los Angeles is purportedly so “broke,” that the city inspector is sent to the older buildings to fine the landlords for whatever may not be up to code.  I understand that this is important to a certain degree, but my landlord was forced to have everyone leave in 30 days.  And after I happily lived someplace comfortably for over 20 years, being forced to go was horrible.  I knew it would happen at some point because friends of mine had purchased the property a few years after I had moved there and had never raised the rent, with the understanding that at some point the property would be renovated.  But unfortunately the timing could not have been worse.  I had just had lower back surgery 2 weeks prior to the eviction.  I was grateful to receive a relocation fee of $5,000, even though legally it should have been more, but it was a difficult time for everyone.

      My boyfriend and l decided to move in together, and we settled for a cute little backhouse on a flag lot in Pasadena.   Even though it was small, one of us could afford it on “one” income since I didn’t know how long it would take for my back to heal.  Our decision was also based on wanting to save enough money for a down payment to purchase our own home.  My boyfriend is a construction worker, and I am an actress.  We are self-employed and work for different companies at different times rather than being permanently employed by one company.

      Even though the initial cost was acceptable, our expenses and costs grew and grew.  Initially we gave our landlords a $2,000 security deposit.  In addition, we paid out-of-pocket expenses, which grew exponentially:

      • $1,500 for painting
      • $150 for washer hookup
      • $300 on ceiling fans

      During our second year, our landlords required us to purchase renter’s insurance, which cost $200 a year, along with a yearly rent increase. Last year, I was quite upset when we received a letter telling us that our rent was to increase $250 per month starting the following month.

      It’s imperative
      that the city
      protects
      its people.

      56% of Pasadena
      residents are
      renters

      Knowledgeable regarding renter’s rights, I wrote the landlords a letter informing them of the law, which states that they needed to give us 60-day notice if an increase was to be more than ten percent. I reminded them of all the out-of-pocket improvements we had made. They responded by making it a 10% instead of a 20% increase, which we appreciated.  Negotiation was possible.

      But now a year has passed and they are adding on another 10%!   We have never once been late with our rent, and we take very good care of their property.  But I’ll tell you; I don’t feel like planting any more flowers.

      It’s very unsettling.  I don’t want to be priced out of my home.  Perhaps the time when landlords valued good tenants is a thing of the past.  This seems especially true, as landlords are getting older and they are allowing their children and management companies to run their business.

      The sad part is that I know there are many others who are dealing with situations that are far worse than mine. I worry for the older folks on fixed incomes.  I also worry for the young people renting.  How will they ever save any money with rents being so high?  Will young families have to start sharing apartments?  Where will people go?  And if people can’t afford to move, they will be stuck paying ever-increasing rent until they run out of money, and then what?  It’s imperative that the city protects its people.  56% of Pasadena residents are renters. Until new laws are instated, we are all at the mercy of our landlords.

      Copyright © Pasadena Tenants Union. All rights reserved.

      Tomorrow:Fear of Being Priced out of Pasadena

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      Contributor

        • Glenn Storm

          Glenn Storm is a local entertainment professional. He has been an animator for feature film, a designer of computer games and an artist in various media. He holds a master's degree in film from CalArts. He can be seen strolling Caltech during alumni week seminar day and loves to talk about story and character.

          Colorado Boulevard is your place for enlightening events, informative news and social living for the greater Pasadena area.
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