Santa Barbara Tenant Union Speaks Out Against Local Landlord

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Source: Santa Barbara Tenant's Union (SBTU)

Listen to Brandon's story about his experience renting from Delmonte Management. Brandon is on an individual rent strike until management makes the unit habitable again, and he believes he is entitled to back pay for all the time the rental unit was uninhabitable plus expenses and damages caused by management's negligence. Brandon deserves justice!

To support Brandon please call (805) 687-2100 and ask RESPECTFULLY that Delmonte management negotiate with him in good faith for back-pay for all the months the bathroom was unusable, the gas leak made the heater unusable, time exposed to black mold, and expenses and damages caused by management's negligence. sbtu.org/join


The SBTU is an all-volunteer, tenant-led association dedicated to just housing. We aid tenants with issues like unjust evictions, rent increases, or negligent property management. We can provide legal context and community solidarity. We’re united around the belief that housing is a human right, and that tenants are better off when they stand together instead of alone. Learn more at sbtu.org

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Cadillackid Jan 14, 2022 03:33 PM
Santa Barbara Tenant Union Speaks Out Against Local Landlord

Brandon good for you to take it to higher authority, this is so unfortunate and unfair, I can absolutely guarantee they are simply trying to get you to leave to rent the apartment for $5,000 a month. All these a**hole landlords and property management companies are going to rot in hell for their behavior in being slumlords with no care in the world for unsafe living situations for their tenants, I pray that this issue gets solved for you fast and you must file a lawsuit for this as well, I’d recommend Lauren John Udden law office, he’s amazing fast and has helped us in the past with a similar situation, you have more then enough evidence and you need to be compensated for this.

ZeroHawk Jan 14, 2022 03:57 PM
Santa Barbara Tenant Union Speaks Out Against Local Landlord

Cadikid has it right. This is part of the reason there are homeless here. College degree, $25 p/h wages in town. Rent for a studio or 1 bedroom = $2700-$3500 a month. Move in costs around $4,000 to $6000....for an apartment.

Now you try to rationalize with this. Math doesn't lie. Inflation and out of control rent prices and wages that are similar to what we all made in 1996

a-1642211661 Jan 14, 2022 05:54 PM
Santa Barbara Tenant Union Speaks Out Against Local Landlord

I was checking out Craigslist earlier. Studios for $1,300/month and in the $1,500 range. Many studios under $2000, and some one bedrooms as well. My one bedroom is $1,775. Not sure where you get your stats? I don't think landlords have any control over wages, any more than they do over soaring maintenance, repair, utility, insurance, tax, etc. costs. I think the "good non greedy" ones are just trying to turn a small profit. Our living expenses and rents are high but so are the landlord's expenses high.

sbsunshine Jan 14, 2022 04:13 PM
Santa Barbara Tenant Union Speaks Out Against Local Landlord

This looks like the apartments on Cliff Drive (1040). Who are the owners behind this unlawful behavior? This is unacceptable. And with your sound collection of evidence it looks like the landlord’s selfish choice is going to cost them far more now. This is the way to powerfully handle landlords like this. Gone are the days where tenants are uneducated, powerless and bullied. What amazes me as I learned more about your story is the fact the SB Fire Department came out twice and did a report on conditions and health impacts and the landlord had no respect or accountability to a government agency. I also am aware that there are many tenants impacted with joint walls to your unit. There is asbestos and verified mold data from a testing lab. No remediation was done. And now they want to send in a handyman to do work yet no city permits have been applied for and the asbestos has not been reported in accordance with the health and safety code. Mold spores are now in the duct work proliferating. This is a clear class action lawsuit and I would name the property manager company, individual managers, owners, Llc, maintenance person and anyone else that has been complicit and aiding and abetting to orchestrate this personal injury. You should contact the city attorney. Charges need to be filed. No one that disrespects our fire department agencies by ignoring their reports should be dining business in this city.

a-1642206837 Jan 14, 2022 04:33 PM
Santa Barbara Tenant Union Speaks Out Against Local Landlord

Agreed.
And if one needs to remove a destructive tree? Nope.
We all need lawyers.

However, I hope this complainant, Mr. Brandon, gets in touch with his councilperson to enlist their aid. As he's already working with SBTU, I'm sure they have. Good luck Mr. Brandon!

TheKid5 Jan 14, 2022 04:42 PM
Santa Barbara Tenant Union Speaks Out Against Local Landlord

SBSunshine is 100% on the money. Mold is such a serious health threat that it requires a hazmat suit be worn when it is pervasive. The City Council does not do its job of enforcing its own housing codes-Hypocrites!!! Ask Councilwoman Harmon if she would bring her newborn baby into this bathroom?

Seabird Jan 15, 2022 04:40 PM
Santa Barbara Tenant Union Speaks Out Against Local Landlord

Yes! Delmonte was my landlord about 25 years ago. His properties were catastrophes and the one I lived in should probably have been condemned. Definitely a worthy recipient of "landlord hate." He's the worst.

sbdude Jan 15, 2022 05:04 PM
Santa Barbara Tenant Union Speaks Out Against Local Landlord

About 30 years ago I sat on a jury where a group of tenants sued Jim Delmonte for substandard living conditions. We found for the plaintiffs but were not allowed to award punitive damages, only back rent and certain costs. I remember sitting in the box thinking "I'm never, ever renting from this guy!"

TheKid5 Jan 14, 2022 04:37 PM
Santa Barbara Tenant Union Speaks Out Against Local Landlord

Looks like mold, which is a health hazard to this man. Santa Barbara County Public Health needs to investigate. The Santa Barbara City Council continues to ignore code enforce in housing, even as they babble about more affordable housing.

a-1642207343 Jan 14, 2022 04:42 PM
Santa Barbara Tenant Union Speaks Out Against Local Landlord

I have some sympathy for landlords. A few generations of my family bought a unit as an investment, decades ago. We could afford the mortgage payments. But we MADE MONEY WHILE HAVING BELOW-MARKET RENTS. Even into the 2010's.
That is why even as a landlord, I don't trust landlords.
Our tenants were our biggest concern, not making money. Well-kept up, profit-making, nice place, with lovely long-term tenants. 20-30 year tenants. We were involved, even with a management company, we knew them, we were in control. Not like a frigging corporation as a landlord.
It was a healthy two-way relationship.

Cadillackid Jan 14, 2022 05:34 PM
Santa Barbara Tenant Union Speaks Out Against Local Landlord

I feel as if a property owner would have the balls to manage their own property things would be better, I guess I understand that they live busy lives and can’t handle the responsibility but they can definitely handle the money coming in, then I guess they need the management, just take care of the property for god sake

a-1642210843 Jan 14, 2022 05:40 PM
Santa Barbara Tenant Union Speaks Out Against Local Landlord

Cad Kid, we did self-manage for most of ownership. It got to be too much. As I said, we were always in control, reviewed every maintenance bill & complaint and refused the management company to charge tenants for some things they wanted to. And made money.

a-1642212203 Jan 14, 2022 06:03 PM
Santa Barbara Tenant Union Speaks Out Against Local Landlord

"The balls to manage their own property?" I think you got that right. It takes some HUGE balls these days to manage property with all the hate being orchestrated toward landlords. Not a job I would like. Sounds terrifying in fact, that for landlords your entire savings and income could be wiped out with just one catastrophic sewage overflow, plumbing or electrical problem, etc. The liability is so big landlording sounds like Russian roulette.

EastBeach Jan 15, 2022 11:53 AM
Santa Barbara Tenant Union Speaks Out Against Local Landlord

My feeling is the rental market in CA is becoming more dominated by corporate owners. Why? A rental property investment may make sense for some mom & pop landlord investors to get into because it's one of the few options where you can borrow to invest (trading stocks on margin is another option though much riskier). But with today's operation costs, capitalization rates for these small-time owners are likely in the 3% to 4% range. Compare that with what the stock market has been returning since the end of the great recession of 2008. Wouldn't you rather be making 15% to 25%? <Past performance disclaimer here> So the mom & pops are selling to large real estate interests (e.g. privately-held LLC's, publicly-held companies) who can lever their size and increase rents more anonymously to make better returns (pay dividends). Then when the market is right, sell to make a capital gain. And in the past 10 years there's been LOTS OF CASH held by the large investors (to understand their motivations, look at how low interest rates been).

SBCountyLocal Jan 14, 2022 05:16 PM
Santa Barbara Tenant Union Speaks Out Against Local Landlord

I called. I am wondering if an email address is available to support Brandon. (I can't find a website for this company.) Meanwhile, post this on BBB.org, LinkedIn.com, ans NextDoor.com. Good luck Brandon!

a-1642211047 Jan 14, 2022 05:44 PM
Santa Barbara Tenant Union Speaks Out Against Local Landlord

This certainly seems disgusting! But instead of being geared to just helping Brandon, this seems an opportunity to hate on all landlords and make a great plug for the tenants union. But in order to resolve this, Brandon does not need to be helpless, and doesn't need to make videos or enlist the tenants union. If what he says about all this is true, all he has to do is call the city, and he could also go to court. Tenants have a LOT of rights and he has many avenues if this was indeed due to a sewage overflow. He could have had an inspector from several city agencies out and already had this mandated to be fixed. And the landlord fined. Not sure why he didn't. There was a sewage overflow in my complex due to tenants putting stuff down the plumbing they shouldn't and tenants were immediately evacuated to alternate housing paid by the landlord and the only way to treat sewage overflow like that is to completely tear out all the drywall and all affected by mold. They also do major heat treatments and drying. The mold growing in the margin of his tub, however, is likely not from the sewage spill. That is NOT how it presents from a sewage overflow. I'm uncomforable with the intimation by some that ALL landlords are bad and ALL tenants are perfect. NOT. Bad apples in both carts. My landlord is great. Yes, housing is a human right, but so is food and clothing, but no one constantly villifies grocers. Yes prices are high in SB for everything including food, and utilities, insurance, maintenance, building supplies, repairs, property taxes, mortgages, etc. etc. Not defending the slum lords of course, but some landlords make little and sometimes no profit. No landlord could be expected to take on the expense and liability of offering rental property in order to lose money. Maybe we should also be looking at the overall problem of why prices are so high for everything for landlords and tenants. Housing may be a human right, but we don't have a human right to someone else's property, we have a contractual agreement only. Attacking the "good" landlords along with the bad is only going to drive the good landlords out of business and then we will end up with more big corporate slumlords like this.

a-1642246201 Jan 15, 2022 03:30 AM
Santa Barbara Tenant Union Speaks Out Against Local Landlord

Actually the city's landlord tenant mediation task force is a great resource and had Brandon called them he would have been given all the information he needed to get remedy for his situation. He also always did have the power to remedy this himself by calling building and safety and other city entities and legal aid. Not sure why the tenants union is the cavalry here. Tenants have a lot of power now, from eviction moratoriums allowing them to not pay rent, to Just Cause eviction, etc. etc. An uninhabitable apartment, especially due to sewage overflow, is a slamdunk for any tenant. The landlord has no other recourse on this one other than to do timely and proper remediation and pay for him to go elsewhere as well. This is a most unusual situation, as very few landlords would think they could try to get by with this, even if they wanted to!

EastBeach Jan 15, 2022 11:29 AM
Santa Barbara Tenant Union Speaks Out Against Local Landlord

05:44PM Appreciate your balanced points. I suspect you're right about the mold - some of it may be because Brandon said they're not using the heater because of a gas leak. That means condensation may be forming on windows and exterior walls that are getting cold which in turn is what mold needs to grow. Not all black-colored mold is "toxic" but having heat to reduce inside humidity and condensation would really help.

Peenbun Jan 14, 2022 05:46 PM
Santa Barbara Tenant Union Speaks Out Against Local Landlord

Call the city building inspector. They will slap a red notice on that apartment immediately. Brandon will not have to pay rent for at least 6 months, and a lawyer will take this case and get him several thousand dollars, after his fee. I know, this same situation happened to me!

doulie Jan 14, 2022 05:59 PM
Santa Barbara Tenant Union Speaks Out Against Local Landlord

PEEN - If your information is accurate it appears to be information that should already be known by a tenants union. I'll guess since this is reported, in part, as a health issue the city/county should get involved quickly. Why waste more time with the landlord?

chico berkeley Jan 14, 2022 06:12 PM
Santa Barbara Tenant Union Speaks Out Against Local Landlord

Stuff like this has been going on since at least the 60's.
Santa Barbara is NOT a place for 1st time home buyers.
Unless you won the lottery or are a Trustafarian, AKA trust fund baby,or maybe a DR,PHD or... you have to become a"Local"which takes a few years and you can find your dream spot for less than market.
So unless you become a "true local" you will always be wankin' about the cost.
Just like Hawaii, or Bali, or....
For you Trustafarians I could pick your pocket as well and tell you how to become more of a "Santa Barbarian".
For a town so heavy on Education the first thing they must NOT be teaching is the law of supply and demand.
(and it should be)
Carry on.

3P14159 Jan 15, 2022 06:45 AM
Santa Barbara Tenant Union Speaks Out Against Local Landlord

I do not doubt the horror of such experiences.

However, there are other sides to this story that many good landlords must tolerate. That's no excuse for exploitative rents, but unless Brandon knows everyone in the city, I'm rather put off by anyone who begs for money.

On the internet, nobody knows you are a bot.

Andrea Smith Jan 15, 2022 09:09 AM
Santa Barbara Tenant Union Speaks Out Against Local Landlord

I feel for Brandon. How awful. I've had mostly positive experiences and I think there are some good LLs in SB but lately I wonder. My last residence I had a HORRIBLE experience towards the end. Nothing as severe as Brandon's but, we lived there almost 9 years and the entire time my LL did a major remodel job of both sides of the duplex. We had no idea he was going to do a major remodel when we moved in. He never got any permits as required either. He would shut off our electricity sometimes with only 2 hours notice, and on weekends. We tolerated all kinds of things as we were trying to be nice and I figured, the rent was somewhat fair although still high for what we had to tolerate. But we never complained, and we also and at our own expense would do minor repairs so never went to him with anything as we were trying to be understanding, etc. He lived there as well, and finished the remodel in early 2020 and moved to LA and started renting out the other side on a short term/vacation basis [also illegal]. We started experiencing major noise issues, you could literally hear someone coughing and talking in a normal voice right through the wall. The major problem was late at night when there would be parties that went past midnight even during the week, door slamming, one night the whole house shook from something, maybe a body falling down drunk, at 2:30 a.m. We tried to address this with him and he refused to do anything about it! He told me to call the police if it was such a problem, and even suggested that I should live somewhere without shared walls when I never had issues before and lived through a major construction problem with noise and dust and no electricity. So I eventually started doing online police reports as I wasn't interested in having anyone arrested but wanted to document it. The cops ended up calling ME to tell me they read the reports and this was a noise violation and grounds for them coming out and making an arrest. Even after I notified him of that he was recalcitrant. We eventually discovered that had he gotten the permit as required for the remodel, due to the scope of the remodel [down to the studs on each side] he would have had to build in a firewall between the 2 units partly for sound but most importantly for smoke/fire and that is why we were literally hearing everything and being woken up. There was no firewall between the units, among other things. Instead of addressing it, he tried to turn it around on us by claiming "retaliating" by slamming doors in response, which I did do once or twice out of frustration [slamming doors in response] and made the mistake of admitting to it. He also told us he was going to be moving back in and selling the house so we eventually moved out. He then listed it on CL for over $3K and required a one year lease so he lied about selling and moving back in too. I was paying just under $2K so clearly he wanted to jack the rent and was hoping we'd leave voluntarily. When we left and were int he process of shutting off our electricity account, we found out he had plugged in the shared water heater between the units to our meter so the whole time we were paying to heat the water on the other side too which is illegal/statutory violation. He also stole a chunk of my security, we left the place in great condition, even carefully spackled the walls and painted with matching paint that we purchased with our own funds, over small holes, etc.
The pictures we took matched perfectly the pictures he posted on CL, showing no damage whatsoever. He claimed he had to fix "floor and wall" damage and never provided receipts or anything as required [like what damage he supposedly had to fix]. He basically refinished his floors on my dime [they hadn't been refinished since before he bought it in 2012]. I could have taken him to court and gotten a fat judgment and liened the house, he may have also faced criminal liability, and he may have gotten caught on an illegal remodel and had to tear it down, but we decided who wants the hassle and we really didn't want to have to ever see or deal with him again and figure he will get his comeuppance one day. People say tenants have rights but, in the end, what it takes to enforce them is not easy. Plus, what about landlord references and having tot tell your next LL that you had to sue your prior one? People don' t like to hear even if there was good reason to take them to court, the rental market is hard enough. Now we are struggling to find a place although we have somewhere to stay for now thankfully. Brandon's case is really bad though and I hope he gets justice! There are good landlords out there but boy when you run into a bad one its really hellish. I can only hope that those who do these types of things will get their just desserts in the end. I commend Brandon for standing up to these abuses.

a-1642282091 Jan 15, 2022 01:28 PM
Santa Barbara Tenant Union Speaks Out Against Local Landlord

Wow, Andrea Smith, what a story! I hope you never have to repeat any of this situation. I have and rent a small cottage and get tenants via CraigsList and then check their references. It's face-to-face and in the last years have been lucky, but before that had some horrible tenants, one set of whom trashed the house and had to be evicted; they threatened to sue but when I sent their lawyer pictures of the condition, he withdrew. LL-T is or can be a very difficult relationship, a balancing act relationship between friends and business, and, except that we put in quite a lot of money into the house, I would _never_ rent to strangers, especially here where there is such hostility to landlords. Good luck to you in the future!

a-1642290432 Jan 15, 2022 03:47 PM
Santa Barbara Tenant Union Speaks Out Against Local Landlord

Oh Andrea, did you understand the cops correctly? Really and truly the cops will NOT arrest anyone for a noise complaint!! In fact, they will rarely ever come out for a noise complaint! I ought to know, I've endured living right next to a vacay rental and I've even had vacationers throw champagne bottles in my yard, once even being hit in the head with one of their corks (hurts when comes off a bottle high speed!) And even with all that, cops said really all they could do is ask them to turn it down and would only come out if had time, as noise complaints are not priority. They said noise complaints are more a civil matter and if ongoing I should take it to court. You must have told the cops about something other than noise if they actually said they would make an arrest? I've also had drunken people from over there actually try to get into my house..... and dispatch questioned me as if I'm the criminal and were completely nonchalant about this, saying things like, "well, maybe they just got confused."

a-1642291083 Jan 15, 2022 03:58 PM
Santa Barbara Tenant Union Speaks Out Against Local Landlord

Just curious, Andrea, if no building inspector came out how do you know for sure there was no firewall inbetween the walls, and that such a wall was required for this specific building? You should have alerted Building and Safety I think.

ragtop Jan 15, 2022 09:20 AM
Santa Barbara Tenant Union Speaks Out Against Local Landlord

In looking at the SB Tenants Union website, ironically, under 'Resources', the LAST link listed is the Rental Housing Mediation Program. (See below for the link for RHMP. ) People are patting the SBTU on the back for being such a needed, helpful resource, but they are NOT referring people to the very source, created by the city, to help tenants. Did Brandon even call Rental Housing Mediation Program? Of course, neither he nor the SBTU disclose this fact, IF he did. If he had made a simple phone call, he, and others like him, would not be living with the current situation. Instead of bashing and degrading landlords, how about asking the SBTU why they aren't directing people, needing assistance, to the proper resources.
Bashing property providers leads many, smaller providers to sell and get out of being a rental housing provider. No one needs the hate directed at them, deserving or not.
Rental Housing Mediation Program
(805) 564-5420
https://www.santabarbaraca.gov/services/home/rhm/default.asp

dukemunson Jan 15, 2022 09:32 AM
Santa Barbara Tenant Union Speaks Out Against Local Landlord

They fight landlords whether the landlord is right or wrong… which I find to be wrong. They should vigorously advocate and fight for situations when that is the right thing to do… not just because fighting any/all landlords no matter the situation is what they do.

EastBeach Jan 15, 2022 11:15 AM
Santa Barbara Tenant Union Speaks Out Against Local Landlord

Let's hope Brandon takes advantage of these resources others have mentioned .... https://www.santabarbaraca.gov/services/home/rhm/default.asp .... https://www.fairhousingsantabarbara.com/ .... https://www.lafsbc.org/

Bene Jan 15, 2022 03:29 PM
Santa Barbara Tenant Union Speaks Out Against Local Landlord

As a tenant who has been helped by the city's rental mediation program, I can say that the up to date remedies and information to help tenants can be gotten here. They are neutral and try to promote resolution for tenants and landlords in a way that is fair to all parties and fosters peace, not discord. A growing number of rental units are being left vacant. If we want to have ever higher rents and less undermarket priced nicely kept up units available, then hating on landlords is the way to accomplish this. Who wants to rent to someone who has been programmed to hate you and be adversarial against you? Few of the smaller operation landlords want to get involved in this, and either sell or leave units vacant. In the long run, entities and policies that are one-sided and spread discord do no one any favors.

Jasper805 Jan 15, 2022 09:39 PM
Santa Barbara Tenant Union Speaks Out Against Local Landlord

I have rented from Delmonte for 6 years without any incidents. There have been times when I have submitted a maintenance request & they have been taken care of quite rapidly - a couple times even the same day I had called. I find it hard to believe there was 3 months of inaction and I’m curious to hear if there is another side to the story.. Of course my rental doesn’t have any granite counters, but it seems excessive to call a similar apartment a Slum, possibly even slanderous. In addition to not having a rent increase in the 6 years I’ve been there (crossing fingers) they have left me alone & have allowed me to have a (semi) permanent affordable home in a town of which it is seemingly difficult. This “news” seems sensationalized/one-sided while tarring and feathering a company that from my perspective isn’t deserving.

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