Santa Barbara- S County

Tenant turmoil: Santa Barbara renters told to pay rent or move out, despite claims they already paid

Tenant turmoil Santa Barbara renters...

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - What would you do if you had to come up with your rent, times two, in just three days or get out?

That's what a number of tenants at the Citywalk Apartment Homes tell our Kacey Drescher they're dealing with.

We spoke to the property manager on the phone who says a rental company called AMC just took over what used to be called the Robin Apartments four months ago.

Tenants are in turmoil and asking for an investigation into what happened to all their money. 

Neighbors at a Westside Santa Barbara apartment complex are scared, worried they won't have a roof over their heads come Friday. One man told our crews that he has to come up with $1600 or face eviction. 

"They're saying we haven't paid rent, that's why they're legally trying to kick us out," said a Citywalk Apartment Homes tenant. We asked him if he's paid rent and he said he has. 

We've concealed his identity because he's afraid of retaliation, but he came home to a letter taped to his doorknob Tuesday night.

"Suddenly, we have this letter saying that we have to vacate the premises if we don't pay rent," the tenant said. 

The man says everyone in the 74-unit complex got a three-day notice to pay rent or move out. 

We reached out to the property manager on the phone and in person at the complex

"I know for a fact that that did not happen, but as for any information for apartments, I can't give out that," said a woman working in the leasing office. 

We were able to confirm with at least a half a dozen people that they received a letter demanding money that they claim has already been paid.

"Some cases people have had to pay $1900, $1200, $2000. Every letter has different amounts of money," said the tenant. "We work hard to pay rent and if they come and say you have to pay double your rent this month, makes you very stressed and frustrated."  

Our source says rent amounts have already been increased and the property management company recently changed hands.

"Looks like they don't know where their money is, and we just believe it's not our fault," said the renter. 

A Santa Barbara attorney says a three-day notice to pay rent or quit is the first step in an unlawful detainer process.

"Unlawful detainer process is an expedited litigation that allows the landlord to take back possession of a property that's been leased if the tenant has failed to pay all the tenant's obligations," said John Thyne III, Senior Partner at the Law Offices of John J. Thyne III. 

Thyne says you have to question if the underlying debt is accurate. 

While he's not representing anyone at the Citywalk Apartment Homes, the Attorney at Law says there has been an uptick in mass evictions in Santa Barbara.

"It is unusual for 74 tenents to simultaneously claim that they have paid their rent to somebody and then for their landowner to tell them that they have not paid their rent," said Thyne. 

That tenant we spoke with says he's reached out to legal aid and they're questioning the legality of the letter. "Most of the people here in this complex are Hispanic and a lot of people are afraid of these letters," he said. 

The property manager told us on the phone that people with concerns are encouraged to come to the office with documentation that they've paid rent. 

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