SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Home is where their hell is — that’s what tenants of a South of Market apartment building are trying to illustrate in a lawsuit that alleges a bevy of terrible living conditions despite paying market-rate rents.
From sinks that fill up with sewage to blood-stained hallways leftover from a murder, 43 tenants say they’re fed up with the landlord of their three-story building at 1751 Market Street.
They’re suing Adib Khouri, who co-owns the building with brother Faiq Khouri and Diana Khouri, over allegations that the apartments are “uninhabitable for occupancy to human beings.”
Filed last summer, the complaint alleges tenants for years have complained to the Khouris to fix water dripping from ceilings, mold infestations, bedbug nests, broken windows and non-functioning smoke detectors, but to no avail.
The Khouris are also accused of unlawful rent hikes, and when tenants didn’t pay the new raised rents, the Khouris allegedly harassed tenants at work “to demand rent and humiliate them in front of co-workers, supervisors and customers.”
One resident said she doesn’t even have electricity for an apartment she pays $1750 for, meanwhile one unit is known as a hotbed of prostitution and drug sales, according to the complaint.
“It’s horrible,” said former tenant Crystal Cook. “It’s like a third-world country.”
And perhaps the most nightmarish of all: there’s still blood on the walls and staircases from a tenant who was fatally stabbed inside the building last year. According to the complaint, one resident said he has to walk past the blood of his murdered brother every time he enters and exits the building.
Another resident told Edward Higginbotham, the lawyer representing the tenants, that she’s frightened of sewage pouring into her kitchen when she’s washing vegetables for dinner.
“Most of them are immigrants who don’t speak English,” Higginbotham said, “and they are being preyed upon basically for greed.”
The Khouris have a history of legal troubles, according to Curbed SF. In 2003, the family was ordered to pay $500,000 to the City and County of San Francisco for violations at an 18-unit building in Bernal Height that included a lack of smoke detectors and leaks causing mold and mildew.
San Francisco building inspections spokesman Phil Strawm said they are two long pages of complaints going back almost two decades.
The tenants are suing for around $10 million in damages and the case is expected to headed to trial in August.
Khouri’s attorney Ed Rodzewich did not immediately respond to calls for comment.