Our neighbors share their stories renting in Pasadena

The Struggles of Renting in Pasadena

Tenants across Pasadenda share their struggles trying to live with dignity. Click the bars below to read more about each tenant.

My name is Carlos Moreno and I have being living in Pasadena since 1985. And for the last 23 years I have being living at the same address, I raised my 4 children in that house. MY children attended elementary schools and high schools in Pasadena, all of them went to PCC, I went to PCC. I always liked Pasadena because I thought it was a good place to live, I thought it was a good city to raise a family, but I found out that I was wrong about it since last month, when I received an eviction notice after 23 years of been a good tenant. I never missed a rent payment; I always took care of the house and the property, in fact, I even made various repairs to make the house a better place to live. Of course, it was always with the owner’s approval, so I couldn’t find a reason for the eviction.

I looked in the city website to see if I had any protection as a tenant, or if there was a law to help me to extend the 60 days that I was given, I was “lucky” that I have a surgery and could extend my time to one and a half months more. I also looked for a law that could make the owner help me with the moving expenses. Nope, there is nothing, not even a law to protect tenants from an owner that just wants to change the color of the tenants, or an owner who just wants to make the place cleaner so he can raise the price of the rent, twice as much or maybe more.

It has been very hard to find a new place to move because it is not as easy as 23 years ago, especially, because I am in disability and my wife just works a part time, in addition, my brother stays with me while he receives his chemotherapy treatment. I know that I have to move; I know it is not my property but is not that easy, you need at least $5,000.00 to find another place to live on these days, and when you are not prepared for that, it is even harder.

I always voted because I thought my vote counted, I was wrong again. It seems like, that the only votes that count are the ones from people who can donate enough of money to finance politician’s careers. I think that, that is the reason there is no rent control in Pasadena, or some laws to protect the tenants, because we cannot donate those quantities of money. I always had the idea that the law protects everybody, I am wrong again. In The City of Pasadena it just protects the people who have money to pay for that protection. I think that I will stop voting because I don’t think that I will ever have enough money to finance a politician career.

[Carlos shared his story at city hall on May 20, 2019.]

My name is Nathaniel Cooke, and I’ve lived in Northwest Pasadena my entire life. My family has been in this city for 4 generations. I grew up on El Sereno Avenue, went to Pasadena High School, and I’ve been working for the city of Pasadena for the last 35 years. As a single grandfather, I’m raising my grandsons in Pasadena. Pasadena is the only home we have ever known, and we have a lot of love for this city.

Now, after all these decades in Pasadena, we are being kicked out of our home. We are being displaced from our community for no fault of our own. And I’m here today to share our story, because I know we are not alone in this experience. This is happening to families all over Pasadena and we need to put an end to this ongoing injustice.

My grandsons and I have been living at 1900 Lincoln Avenue for the last 6 years. It’s not a fancy place, but it’s our home. The water heater barely works, there’s a big hole in our kitchen floor, another hole in one of our windows, and there are roaches. If I want to turn on the heat, I have to manually connect two wires in the wall, because the thermostat is broken. In the 6 years since we’ve lived there, I have always paid the rent on time. I take care of the yard work without compensation. We have been very dependable and responsible tenants.

Last week, I was shocked to come home to a 60-day notice. We are being kicked out for no reason. 3 months ago, a new owner bought the property. The empty unit next door started getting remodeled with all new appliances, kitchen, shower, A/C, and everything. Our place looks like 1949, and the new unit looks like 2019. The name of the new owner is Gaganbind [Gagan] Naeger, and she is aware of the habitability problems in our home but has done nothing to fix them. I thought maybe she was gonna offer for us to move in to the the new unit, but I was wrong. She never asked us. Instead, she doubled the rent on the new unit, and kicked us out so she can do the same with our place.

Let me read to you the first few sentences from the online listing for the property: “Priced for immediate liquidation. 3 Units in prime rental location. No rent stabilization. Long term tenants. Opportunity to increase the rents. All units are rented with the same occupant for a long time.”

I’m here today because if we had real protections for tenants in Pasadena, this would not be happening to my grandsons and I. Landlords should not be allowed to evict tenants without just cause. Rents should not be allowed to increase astronomically from one year to the next. Because we lack these basic protections, my family is being forced to leave Pasadena to find a place we can afford. We will continue to commute here. My work is here. My grandsons’ friends are here. Our home is still here in Pasadena. But we are being displaced. Pasadena must come together to face this affordable housing crisis. We have to protect our community.

[Nate shared his story at city hall on May 20, 2019.]

I rented a bungalow for 5+ years at 953 South Marengo Avenue. My rent was $1950 for a 2-bedroom, 1200 square foot house. In 2017, my landlord (Frank Marrone) asked me to “show” the house for him, as he was attempting to sell the entire complex in order to purchase an apartment building in South Pasadena. I stupidly obliged, just because I’m a nice person and I thought the landlord would be forthcoming as things developed. My landlord subsequently refused to divulge just when Escrow was going to close and none of us tenants had any idea what was going to happen. He kept insisting that he was selling the complex to two brothers who “had a few rentals” in the Pasadena area - he refused to divulge any information whatsoever as to who these guys were. The complex was sold to San Gabriel Valley Management, Inc. (SGV Management - a huge operation), and they immediately sent me a letter explaining that my rent was being raised to $2,550 - a whopping $550 increase! I had 60 days to get out. I contacted SGV Management about the increase and they sent me a letter essentially explaining that they HAD TO raise the rents in order to “stay in the black” on this purchase; essentially admitting that they were sacrificing the current residents for the sake of a purchase they made that they could not really afford. On top of that, they cheated me on my original deposit because they were unclear as to their stipulations for vacating the premises and they tried to charge me for not sending them a notice to vacate, when I was told by one of their employees (since fired by them) that I did not need to write a letter. I fought them on that and got my $75 back, but they pro-rated me for 5 days of rent.

I was in panic mode and luckily managed to find my current rental bungalow in NW Pasadena, a one-bedroom, 500 square foot cottage, for $1750 per month. A decrease from my former rent, but that wasn’t to last for very long either. Upon my one year anniversary at this location, the landlord (Eric Winter) raised the rent $100, to its current level of $1,850 per month. I wrote him a letter and he responded that he was raising the rents because he’d heard all the talk about Rent Control and he wanted to have as high an amount on his rentals as possible, should Rent Control become law. In fact, he raised everyone’s rent in this complex (regardless of their anniversary dates) and one tenant even had a $200 rental increase on her unit - all in an attempt to ensure that he could get as much money as possible should he be constrained by any Rent Control. He worded this letter very carefully, but his Property Manager did tell us the real reason, and in fact, when I spoke directly to the landlord, he did admit verbally what he was really up to.

I am retired (30 years with the City of Los Angeles) and I live off of my pension. At the current rate, almost 50% of my take-home pay goes toward my rent. It is impossible to save any money this way, and I am anticipating that my landlord will raise my rent another $100, come my anniversary date or even sooner, should he hear the current talk about Rent Control. I maintain this home as if it were my own; it is immaculate and I have actually improved the property with landscaping and maintenance that he won’t do, so I am a valuable tenant.

I am afraid that I will be forced out of this rental with yet another rent increase.

Share your tenant story!

Individual Stories Are Part of a Citywide Trend

The data shows clearly that over half of of Pasadena households are losing more than a third of their income to pay rent.

rent burdened households in Pasadena

For low income households, this number is even higher

rent burden for low incomes

Rents are also increasing much faster than inflation

rents increasing faster than inflation

As the rents go up, the enrollment in the Pasadena Unified School District drops. We know correlation does not imply causation, but here we can make a clear connection between the personal stories Pasadenans are telling and the broader trend: if families can't afford to live in Pasadena, then they move out, taking their kids out of Pasadena schools, breaking community ties.

PUSD enrollement decrease

As the rents rise, the number of affordable places to live in Pasadena shrinks too. The plot below shows this trend since 2005.

number of low rent units decreasing