Student sues real estate firms in potential class-action over SLO apartments

A Cal Poly student has filed suit against the owner and property manager of a San Luis Obispo apartment complex, alleging they illegally rented unsafe and unpermitted apartments to local college students. Numerous other tenants at the complex could join the lawsuit if it is allowed to proceed as a class-action case.

In a lawsuit filed last week in San Luis Obispo Superior Court, Cameron Geehr alleges developers made a series of modifications to apartment units at The SLO complex — formerly known as Stenner Glen — at 1050 Foothill Boulevard. These modifications were made without required permits or city building inspections.

According to the suit, workers subdivided existing units, removed critical fireproofing and substantially altered the complex’s plumbing, electrical and structural components, violating city and state building and health and safety codes.

The suit names the complex owner Home Sweet Home, a Woodland Hills-based real estate investment company and Asset Campus Housing, a Houston-based student housing management company.

“Defendants sought nothing more than to increase their profits, acting at all times with the knowledge that the lack of alternative student housing in the area would force plaintiff and the other student tenants to continue living in and paying for unsafe and illegally-modified residential units,” the lawsuit states.

On July 24, the city issued a stop work order over construction at The SLO. The city then posted a notice of violation on Sept. 21, after students moved in for the 2017-2018 school year, according to the lawsuit.

The suit alleges the defendants hid the violations and safety breaches as students moved in. They then demanded that tenants pay full rent.

Geehr’s lawsuit, which was filed by attorney Joseph Ferrentino, attempts to include all tenants of The SLO who entered a lease agreement and paid rent as of Aug. 1, 2017. An estimated 150 or more tenants fit the description.

The plaintiff or plaintiffs are seeking restitution for rent, security deposits and fees, as well as statutory damages of $5,000 per tenant for every time the defendants illegally demanded and/or collected rent. They are also requesting compensatory and punitive damages and compensation for legal costs.