During the summer, the landlord of the SLO Student Living complex of Home Sweet Home LLC of Woodland Hills remodeled the student apartments without notifying the city and is now facing thousands of dollars in fines.
Home Sweet Home was given a “stop work notice” by the City of San Luis Obispo Community Development Department July 24 for making changes to the Foothill Boulevard units without a permit. These changes included updating bathrooms and adding new electrical outlets and a privacy wall.
Michael Codron, director of the Community Development Department, said the most concerning change to safety is that the tubs and showers appear to have been installed with the incorrect firewall rating between buildings and floors.
The landlord faced another violation for more renovations Sept. 20. The landlord was given until Oct. 21 to turn in plans to the city before being fined. The landlord’s name has not been released.
According to Codron, the landlord was issued $1,300 in fines in November for missing the deadline for permit submittal. In addition to these fines, permit fees were doubled as a result of the completed unpermitted work. This totaled in more than $30,000 in fines in addition to the regular permitting fees.
“City staff has been and will continue to work diligently to make sure these units are being brought to current safety standards,” Codron wrote in an email to Mustang News. “Representatives for the property owner have assured city staff that all violations will be corrected as quickly as possible.”
Permits have been issued or are under review by city staff members for all of the buildings affected by this unpermitted construction. Codron assured that inspections have been done by city building inspectors to verify that all of the work is up to current code standards. In addition, regularly scheduled inspections will be required as the work progresses.
Newmeyer & Dillion LLP, a Newport Beach law firm, filed a lawsuit on behalf of a Cal Poly student and the other students living in the units.
“I was pretty shocked,” Newmeyer & Dillion LLP Lawyer Joe Ferrentino said. “It’s clear to me that if this was happening to anyone other than students it would be handled differently.”
According to Ferrentino, this lawsuit aims to ensure the landlord gets the building up to code and to have some portion of the tenants’ rent returned since they did not get what they bargained for.
Ferrentino said residents have reported multiple problems with the units such as showers not working and incomplete closets.
“I think the renovations are pretty cheap renovations,” computer engineering senior Boris Tam said. “It’s not all bad, but it is disappointing being less than average. It’s not terrible, it’s still livable.”
The city is requiring that all work be finished before school at Cal Poly and Cuesta Community College starts in Fall 2018. Any buildings that do not meet this deadline will be assessed for safety and will be considered for restricted entry by the chief building official and the fire marshal.
In an email to Mustang News, Thomas Pattenaude, director of Asset Management with Home Sweet Home, wrote the company is “working cooperatively with the city and all city permits have been pulled and the required work is underway.”