Court Orders Landlord to Fix 'Inhumane Conditions' in Lead-Contaminated, Fire-Damaged Fruitvale Building


The three-story, 30-unit apartment building at 1620 Fruitvale Avenue was the subject of no less than twenty different housing habitability complaints since 2008, according to city records. Problems included raw sewage pooling under the building and no smoke alarms in over-crowded apartments.

Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker sued the building's landlords last August. Today her office secured an injunction requiring the landlords, Jad and Suad Jaber, to fix every code violation within 40 days, or face contempt of court charges and other sanctions.

"It is critical that the City hold accountable landlords who violate tenants’ rights and turn a blind eye to inhumane conditions that persist at their properties," said Parker in a press release issued today.

According to city records, the building has been plagued with every imaginable problem: there are infestations of mice, cockroaches, and bed bugs, numerous plumbing leaks spilling water into the hallways and rooms, no hot water in many units, no locks on the building's front door, holes in the floors and walls, no heating, poor ventilation, broken windows, and even lead contamination and chipping paint.

Nearly all the tenants are low-income Mexican and Central American immigrant families. Many of the residents do not speak English.

The Jabers bought the building in 2007, according to county records. The City Attorney alleged that they did nothing to fix the many health and safety issues in the building, despite numerous complaints that were repeatedly verified over the past ten years by building inspectors.

Last August, part of the building caught fire. Two units were subsequently yellow tagged by the city. The tenants of those apartments were displaced. According to the City Attorney, the fire damage was not fixed in a timely manner.

The City Attorney has successfully sued several other Oakland landlords using the Tenant Protection Ordinance to stop harassment and require repairs.

The Express was unable to immediately reach the Jabers for comment.

A copy of the lawsuit can be read here.