Pasadena Tenant Justice Coalition

Ramona Gonzales
Ramona Gonzales

Pasadena Resident for 20+ years.

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.