SF Bay Area Indymedia indymedia
About Contact Subscribe Calendar Publish Print Donate

East Bay | Health, Housing, and Public Services

Slumlord may have placed Oakland tenants at risk
by Lynda Carson ( tenantsrule [at] yahoo.com )
Saturday Jan 11th, 2014 9:04 PM
On October 12, 2006, Oakland City Attorney John Russo, Oakland City Councilmembers Nancy Nadel and Jane Brunner announced the filing of a lawsuit against Elizabeth Ann Williams (RG 06291808), for not providing humane living conditions to the residents in 13 buildings in Oakland, including the building that caught on fire on December 19, 2013 at 732 Apgar Street.

Slumlord may have placed Oakland tenants at risk

By Lynda Carson - January 11, 2013

Oakland - On December 19, 2013, at around noon an electrical fire occurred in the attic of 732 Apgar St., in Oakland, due to faulty old electrical wiring. The Oakland Fire Department had to chop a hole in the roof of the building to be able to put the fire out. The residents in all three residential units of the building were displaced by the fire.

According to sources, the Fire Department also tore out some old electrical square copper rods that may have been installed in the building back during the 1920s, that were part of an old electrical system that was never upgraded.

Sources say that all three units in the residential triplex building sustained damage, with the residents on the top floor losing everything due to water damage. Sources also say one tenant lost a number of possessions since the fire occurred because management left the apartment door open, or unlocked. Another unit in the building sustained heavy smoke damage, and currently has mold problems due to the water used to put the fire out, according to sources.

All the tenants were displaced by the fire since December 19, and according to sources the landlord is demanding that the tenants must continue to pay the full amount of rent at the damaged building while the building is being repaired, and the electrical system is being upgraded. At times the tenants have difficulty reaching anyone because the management's phone message box is often filled, and no one picks up the phone, according to sources.

The fire and water damaged building located at 732 Apgar St., in Oakland, is owned by Elizabeth Ann Williams who was sued by the City of Oakland during 2006 for owning 13 buildings in North and West Oakland, with inhumane living conditions.

On October 12, 2006, Oakland City Attorney John Russo, Oakland City Councilmembers Nancy Nadel and Jane Brunner announced the filing of a lawsuit against Elizabeth Ann Williams (RG 06291808), for not providing humane living conditions to the residents in 13 buildings in Oakland, including the building that caught on fire on December 19, 2013 at 732 Apgar Street.

According to documents from the Oakland City Attorney's office, before the lawsuit was filed back in 2006, the property owner received numerous tenant complaints regarding broken windows, infestations of rats, mice and cockroaches, natural gas leaks, non-functioning toilets, and broken heaters in her buildings. The city also filed suit due to blight conditions at the properties, and alleged illegal drug activity at some of the properties.

On October 22, 2009 a settlement agreement with the City of Oakland occurred, and it was reported that according to the City Attorney's Office spokesperson Alex Katz, Elizabeth Williams of Gilroy began cleaning up her properties, and is making repairs, in addition to paying back taxes, and debts owed to the Rent Board. Williams also agreed to pay $20,000 in investigation fees and civil penalties, in addition to agreeing to interior and exterior inspections of her buildings/properties during a two year period.

The agreement includes a permanent injunction that requires Williams to set up a 24-hour response line for the tenants (around 52 units in 13 buildings), and Williams is required to make repairs in a 72-hour period unless it is special order items that need replacement.

Failure to maintain her properties means that she is violating the permanent injunction. The City of Oakland also agreed to forgive $5,000 in civil penalties against Williams as part of the agreement, and any breach of the agreement is supposed to lead to reinstated penalties.

Since the fire of December 19, 2013 occurred at one of Williams properties that was supposed to be properly maintained, it appears that Williams may be in breach of the permanent injunction. However, that may be up to the City Attorney to determine if Williams is in breach of the permanent injunction.

Elizabeth Williams did not respond to a request for an interview by the time this story was filed.

Lynda Carson may be reached at tenantsrule [at] yahoo.com

LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
Listed below are the latest comments posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by website visitors.
TITLE AUTHOR DATE
See lawsuit filed against Elizabeth WilliamsLynda CarsonSunday Jan 12th, 2014 4:15 PM