A bitter fight is brewing in San Jose between tenants of numerous apartment complexes and their landlord over alleged "unhealthy living conditions" and "retaliatory" evictions.
NBC Bay Area reported exclusively last week about a so-called "tenant revolt" that led to a private meeting between residents and San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. But some tenants say they got a shock after that meeting: more eviction notices.
The tenants were mad before, but now, their outrage is off the charts. Some say, after their meeting with the mayor about the situation, they returned home to find eviction notices posted on their doors.
Miguel Magana is now facing eviction. While the single father of three was at a community meeting with Mayor Liccardo last Wednesday to discuss problems with the landlord, Magana says, a 90-day eviction notice aimed at him was posted on the unit where he lives with another family.
Magana says the landlord is using the area's gang problems as an excuse to target residents.
"We feel like we're being bullied for that reason," Magana said. "And we're being discriminated."
"This was just retaliation in a way that's trying to keep people under (the landlord's) thumb ... and say 'How dare you meet with the mayor. Let me remind you: I want you out of here,'" said Shaunn Cartwright, a spokeswoman for the South Bay Tenants Union.
Nearly four dozen fourplexes in San Jose's Santee neighborhood are run by Realty World Premier Properties. The neighborhood has had such a history of gang-related problems it led to a court injunction. Realty World was brought in by San Jose to operate and, in essence, clean up the neighborhood.
The property manager and other local landlords are meeting Wednesday night with the city to discuss issues such as security and parking enforcement. Tenants plan to march on city hall that day and confront the property manager.
"She's intimidating the tenants, and everybody is afraid to report repairs in their houses because they are afraid of evictions," said organizer Amelida Castillo.
A Realty World spokesperson told NBC Bay Area it is only doing what it was asked to do by the city and points out none of the complaints have led to any judgments or actions against the management company.
Mayor Liccardo said he plans to be at Wednesday's meeting and is still reviewing the situation.