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Renters' Rights Group Files Lawsuit Against Prominent Fresno Landlord

Jan 9, 2014

Malaquias Esteves, right, and his children live in a home owned by JD Homes. He is a plaintiff in the class action lawsuit.
Credit Rebecca Plevin / Valley Public Radio

A statewide renters’ rights organization has filed a class action suit against JD Homes Rentals for operating what it calls ‘slum’ rental housing in Fresno. FM89’s Rebecca Plevin reports:

Jesucita Esteves grew up in one of JD Homes’ rental homes.

ESTEVES: “We were living in ugly conditions. Our rooms were full of mold. Our carpet wasn’t even carpet anymore, it was like dirt. It was nasty.” 

Esteves and her family were among several dozen people who gathered in downtown Fresno this afternoon to demand that JD Homes clean up its act – and its estimated 3,000 properties in the area. The group Tenants Together filed a class action lawsuit today against the rental company to compel it to fix health and safety violations, as required by law.

Patsy Van Dyke is with Bet Tzedek Legal Services, and is representing Tenants Together in this case.

VAN DYKE: “The lawsuit is fairly simple. It’s simple because we need to find an elegant solution to a very complex problem.”

The suit seeks to have JD Homes’ units inspected and repaired, and to provide a rent rebate to people who they say live in uninhabitable conditions.

It also alleges negligence and negligent maintenance. The group says the company has mostly ignored tenants’ complaints about substandard housing conditions, and that any repairs are generally cosmetic.

It’s a situation Jesucita Esteves is all too familiar with.

ESTEVES: "We would always call their maintenance department. And they would put us on hold and we would call again, and they would never come assist us."

In a written statement, JD Homes said it is ready, willing and able to address all maintenance or repair issues. The company says it intends to vigorously defend the lawsuit.