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Police: Mountain View landlord attempting to oust tenants arrested for brazen break-in

 

A Mountain View landlord and four accomplices were arrested Monday night for allegedly attempting to physically force a family with children out of their apartment. The crime is being described by police officials as an unprecedented move by a local apartment owner to intimidate a renter into leaving a rent-controlled unit.

The landlord, identified as 50-year-old Reenu Saini of Sunnyvale, allegedly had become frustrated because the residents, a married couple and their two children, were behind on their rent. On Monday evening, Aug. 26, she reportedly called four associates to act as hired muscle by helping her to scare or force the tenants into leaving the property, located on the 2000 block of Rock Street.


Reenu Saini

Steven Carling
What resulted was a standoff. Saini and her group arrived and demanded the family exit the property while the tenants refused to leave or open the door, according to police. Saini and her group reportedly shut off the power to the apartment unit and they attempted to break open the door. At one point, one of the male accomplices tried to use a knife to force open the door, nearly cutting one of the tenants who was trying to hold it closed from the other side.

Not long afterward, police were call to the scene after being notified of a burglary in progress. Officers arrived to find Saini and her group still on the front lawn of the property, and all of them were detained.

By this time, the family living in the apartment had fled their home out the backdoor, and were later located about a block down the street.

As they interviewed the involved parties, police officials say it became clear that Saini and her group repeatedly broke the law in their attempt to evict the tenants. Saini was arrested on suspicion of attempted robbery, burglary, conspiracy to commit a crime and unlawfully shutting off the power.

Three other suspects involved, identified as San Jose residents Lori Walston, 49, Brian Ross, 49, and Debra McNeil, 52, were each arrested on suspicion of attempted robbery, burglary and conspiracy charges. A fifth suspect, 53-year-old Steven Carling, was arrested on suspicion of the same charges plus assault with a deadly weapon for using a knife to force open the apartment door.

On Tuesday, the Rock Street apartment still showed signs of the attempted home invasion, and the front door was splintered in several places. Speaking from behind the closed door, the father of the family declined to answer questions, saying they had been overwhelmed by the media response. As he spoke, a broadcast news crew was finishing up an interview with a member of the Mountain View Tenants Coalition in front of the property.

"We don't want any more attention from this," the father said.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the family had moved out from North Carolina about a month ago for a job offer and initially stayed in a different Airbnb rental owned by Saini, who later set them up at the Rock Street apartment when the job fell through.

The family said they had a verbal agreement with Saini to pay $3,900 a month in rent, but they later noticed that their lease actually stipulated $10,000 per month, according to media reports. By last week, Saini reportedly began sending threatening messages warning they needed to immediately pay or leave.

Police officials could not immediately provide the Voice with additional details, saying that officers are still finishing their report. It's unclear how long the victim family had lived in the apartment or how much back rent they allegedly owed to Saini.

According to her LinkedIn profile, Saini has been actively pursuing real estate investments for at least five years through her own company, Reesha Capital. Current listings for her company on her Zillow page show at least six properties available for rent for above-market prices, including a 3-bedroom apartment on Mountain View Avenue going for more than $10,000 a month. A furnished 2-bedroom unit at the Rock Street apartments where Saini was arrested is listed for $7,250 a month. Many of Saini's properties in Mountain View are also listed for bookings on short-term rental sites, which are supposed to be tightly restricted for investment properties under new city rules.

According to Mountain View's apartment registry, Saini's Rock Street apartment building is covered under the city's rent control program. This means she would be prohibited from raising rents beyond the cost of inflation as long as her current tenants remained living there. City records show no indication that Saini had attempted to serve her tenants with a termination notice prior to Monday's altercation.

"This was a deliberate attempt using scare tactics to evict a family from a home," said police Lt. Armando Espitia in a statement. "There are civil procedures and remedies that landlords and tenants can pursue with regard to late rent payments, but unfortunately these individuals took extremely dangerous and unlawful steps that resulted in their arrest."

Editor's note: This story has been expanded with additional information since it was first posted on Tuesday.

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Comments

17 people like this
Posted by Dan Waylonis
a resident of Jackson Park
on Aug 27, 2019 at 2:14 pm

Dan Waylonis is a registered user.

Do eviction proceedings not function in Mountain View anymore? I would suspect that with so many protections to renters, it would take 6-8 months to actually get a non-paying tenant out.

But frustrations aside, the actions of the accused are pretty reprehensible.


30 people like this
Posted by ParB
a resident of Whisman Station
on Aug 27, 2019 at 2:24 pm

This is so awful. This has nothing to do with rent control and i don't think we should take it there.

This is just an act from a terrible person with a serious poor judgment. I'm so glad they got arrested. Hopefully the long arm of the law will find out if she and her posse has done similar acs to other tenants.

unbelievable...


4 people like this
Posted by Max Jacobs
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 27, 2019 at 2:24 pm

[Post removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]


24 people like this
Posted by Jake O.
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Aug 27, 2019 at 2:42 pm

I hope all of these thugs are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. There is a system in place for eviction and although it's not perfect, these people should have followed it.

I hope the Voice follows this story and provides us with more detail on the number of months the tenants were behind and the history of the tenant/landlord relationship including the outcome of court proceedings.


13 people like this
Posted by The Business Man
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Aug 27, 2019 at 4:22 pm

The Business Man is a registered user.

I hate to say this but this was coming for years.

People like Curt Conroy has been calling anyone in support of rent control thieves and in some cases worse. The same was said of Elizabeth Lindsey.

The owners of these rental properties have been ratcheting up the hostility against tenants by making their opinions very clear. Anyone seeking legal protections under the law in their view are criminals, and so the landlords are entitled to act in any way they wish to impose their will on a tenant.

The facts are tenants have never threatened any landlord as far as I can see. They sought out the proper process to get legal protections under the laws and nothing more. But contrast that to the threats made by landlords during the Measure V campaign and voting, and as soon as the election was clear, invoking evictions for no cause after the election.

So far I cannot see that these people had the proper paperwork that entitled them to evict. Otherwise they would not have been arrested.

And did these people get any advice from anyone. Were they perhaps members of the California Apartment Association? Did the CAA have any hand in the planning of this action? What would have happened if these people were undocumented? To me this is possibly a tip of an iceberg regarding clearly unethical if not illegal business practices.


14 people like this
Posted by SRB
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Aug 27, 2019 at 4:32 pm

SRB is a registered user.

Horrible and I hope the Mayor and the City Council will forcefully denounce these acts.

@Mountain View Voice - Not sure I would take at face value anything from that landlord and her "muscle". Might want to consider the following edit: "the residents,...., were *ALLEGEDLY* behind on their rent"


20 people like this
Posted by Mountain View Neighbor
a resident of North Whisman
on Aug 27, 2019 at 4:35 pm

Mountain View Neighbor is a registered user.

I don’t buy it. I’ve had tenants file completely phony complaints, alleging uninhabitable living conditions. Whatever was going on here, blame measure V. There is no incentive, whatsoever for a landlord to do such a thing,

I challenge the Voice to look at the true tragedy of measure V, as thousands of affordable housing units have been torn down and replaced by $million condos. All because measure V forces landlords to subsidize housing. Guess what? There’s no reason for landlords to own buildings that aren’t profitable. They take their money and run before the property values drop any more.


8 people like this
Posted by The Business Man
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Aug 27, 2019 at 5:54 pm

The Business Man is a registered user.

In response t0 Mountain View Neighbor you said:

“I don’t buy it. I’ve had tenants file completely phony complaints, alleging uninhabitable living conditions. Whatever was going on here, blame measure V. There is no incentive, whatsoever for a landlord to do such a thing, “

Measure V is no legal defense for such violence and you know it. This was simply completely inappropriate. You cannot excuse violence because a citizen had legal rights to the terms and conditions of their living situation. I strongly urge a lawyer to file a complaint for DAMAGES due to this violent act. These people are entitled to reparations. This should pose as a example that this behavior is not excusable. You said:

“I challenge the Voice to look at the true tragedy of measure V, as thousands of affordable housing units have been torn down and replaced by $million condos.”

So far that has not happened nor has it been approved. That cannot happen as long as Section 65863 of the California law does not allow for net loss housing. As long as Section 65623. Requires inclusionary housing providing that 30% be affordable to 120% of median income, 15% be affordable to 80% of median income, and 5% to be affordable to those of 50% median income. As long as Section 65913.4. can require 50% of the project be affordable to those earning below 80% or area median income. Thes are the STATE laws. These laws work on sold or rented units and are required to be affordable to owners as long as 45 years, and rentals for 55 years. You said:

“ All because measure V forces landlords to subsidize housing. Guess what? There’s no reason for landlords to own buildings that aren’t profitable. They take their money and run before the property values drop any more.”

True, but developers are going to be forced to provide INCLUSIONARY housing units on any project moving forward. It is not that simple to just destroy a housing unit and get unlimited profiting, except for those that are 50% market rate, which assumes that these people are earning above 120% the median income.

Please understand that your advice is simply not good given the reality of the current STATE laws.


5 people like this
Posted by The Business Man
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Aug 28, 2019 at 7:35 am

The Business Man is a registered user.

I still am very confused.

WHERE IS THE CALIFORNIA APARTMENT ASSOSCIATIONS CONDEMNATION OF THIS ACTION?

THey proclaim they promote ethicval business practices. It is on their website here (Web Link)

"What we believe

CAA recognizes its ethical duties to the communities we serve and insists on upholding the utmost integrity in the multifamily housing field. Our Code of Ethics guides our dealings with all people, and we encourage all rental-housing professionals to abide it."

WHAT IN THE CODE OF ETHICS THEY PROMOTE ENDORSES THIS BEHAVIOR?

WHERE IS CURT CONROY REGARDING THIS ACTION? WHAT DOES HE SAY REGARDING WHETHER THIS WAS A GOOD COURSE OF ACTION?

People said "“I don’t buy it."

Follow up reports indicated that the tenants were only late by one month. THere is no evidence to signify they were a "bad" tenant. Simply put, this case indicates that the "mom and pops" landlords are prone to taking actions that are not appropriate. THey do not follwo the proper procedures. I want an investigation as to whther these people have a history of violating the laws and procedures.

WHEN ARE THE CAA GOING TO GO ON THE RECORD TO SAY THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE BUSINESS PRACTICES?


12 people like this
Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Aug 28, 2019 at 1:47 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

Major coverage on the TV news has provided lots of interesting insights about this incident. It seems that the tenants may have only recently moved in, and the dispute was about the rental rate they had agreed to pay. The landlord wanted them to pay more than they thought was the agreement. The door of the unit was shown close up. It was hacked severely and a panel near the door knob had apparently been removed at one point. The unit seems to be a small house built on to a 2 story small apartment building (the kind once designed for the owner/manager to have).

The owner is going to get into a lot of trouble over this.

Surprise, the tenants are looking for a new place to move.


10 people like this
Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Aug 28, 2019 at 2:46 pm

Gary is a registered user.

The story is that the tenants were behind in the rent - not that the landlord was not satisfied with only receiving Measure V controlled rent. All a landlord that does not receive rent when due must do is to serve a 3-day notice to pay rent past due and, absent payment, sue to evict (for "unlawful detainer"). The tenant has only 5 days from service of the lawsuit to file a response. If a tenant does not file a response on time, the landlord may obtain a judgment for possession and proceed to the next step of eviction by the county sheriff's office. . If a tenant does file a response on time, the landlord may immediately file a request to set the case for trial. The court clerk must then set the trial for a date within 21 days. At the time of trial, the parties either make a deal or the case is heard and determined. If the landlord wins, judgment is entered, a writ of possession is issued and given to the county sheriff's office which delivers and posts an eviction notice - usually within a week. The notice requires that tenants be gone in 5 days. On the 6th day, the sheriff will return on request of the landlord to remove the tenants and other occupants. There are some variables but it takes 3-7 weeks to remove tenants and other occupants under state law. The judgment may include an award of money for unpaid rent, court costs, attorney fees and "damages" for the period of unlawful detention. State law has long prohibited forcible self-help evictions. If the landlords want the arrestees in this case on their campaign pieces, this should be fun.


11 people like this
Posted by The Business Man
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Aug 28, 2019 at 3:35 pm

The Business Man is a registered user.

Gary,

Thank you very much. You just demonstrated how little some people know about the process of being a landlord. These people do not appear to be very unique.

Many landlord proponents on this medium seem to indicate that they are entitiled to take any action they wish as long as the tenant doesn't have any protection from practices that are illegal.

The story indicates that this might have been their first months rent after they just moced in.

But more importantly there was an attempt to bait and switch in this case because the story indicated:

“THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE REPORTED THAT THE FAMILY HAD MOVED OUT FROM NORTH CAROLINA ABOUT A MONTH AGO FOR A JOB OFFER AND INITIALLY STAYED IN A DIFFERENT AIRBNB RENTAL OWNED BY SAINI, WHO LATER SET THEM UP AT THE ROCK STREET APARTMENT WHEN THE JOB FELL THROUGH.

THE FAMILY SAID THEY HAD A VERBAL AGREEMENT WITH SAINI TO PAY $3,900 A MONTH IN RENT,

BUT THEY LATER NOTICED THAT THEIR LEASE ACTUALLY STIPULATED $10,000 PER MONTH, ACCORDING TO MEDIA REPORTS. By last week, SAINI REPORTEDLY BEGAN SENDING THREATENING MESSAGES WARNING THEY NEEDED TO IMMEDIATELY PAY OR LEAVE.

So it looks like this landlord in effect was scamming these people. Making an agreement without due documentation and then radically changing the terms, inflating the rent $6,100 a whopping 256% increase with no notification.

Measure V is not the problem here. This was a group that was breaking so many rules and procedures it is hard to count.


7 people like this
Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Aug 28, 2019 at 5:07 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

Hmm, but if they had just moved in and the dispute was that they were paying less rent than the landlord wanted, then the court process would require showing the lease agreement. If the landlord had decided after the fact to charge more, the she would have been unsuccessful in the eviction process. The ridiculous size of the demanded rent would have lent credence to their claim that they were defrauded.


2 people like this
Posted by The Business Man
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Aug 29, 2019 at 8:29 am

The Business Man is a registered user.

STILL

WHERE IS CURT CONROY? WHERE IS JOHN INKS? WHERE IS MEASUREVTOOCOSTLY? WHERE IS THE CAA? THEY ALL ARE RESPPONSIBLE FOR PLANTING THEXSEEDS OF THIS ACTION.

TTHESE PEOPLE HAVE BEEN ENCOURAGING HOSITLITY AGAINST TENANTS FOR YEARS.

THE MOUNTAIN VIEW TENANTS COALLITION ONLY ENCOURAGED VOTING.

WHE WILL THE CITY UNDERSTAND THAT CURT CONROY, JOHN INKS, MEASUREVTOOCOSTLY, and the CAA ARE NOT ACTING IN GOOD FAITH.

By the way the MeasureVTooCostly website is gone, what happened to it?


4 people like this
Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Aug 29, 2019 at 10:13 am

Gary is a registered user.

The article suggests that the landlord rents houses and multi-plexes to re-rent them for a huge profit. In this instance, it appears that the tenant agreed to pay nearly $4,000 per month for a unit but the landlord had him sign an agreement that states the monthly rent is $10,000. That does remind me of the landlords' "sneaky repeal" petition. Many people did not know what they were signing. But this article also reminds us how the government-sponsored housing shortage here has created the opportunity for landlords to DOUBLE RENTS. That is what's can happen if Measure V is repealed - whether by the landlords' sneaky initiative or by some other sneaky ballot measure placed on the ballot by the pro-landlord City Council majority. Measure V was and is not perfect. It could be improved. One improvement might well be to extend its coverage to more housing units (built before 1995 as still limited by state law). And because the same state law mandates vacancy de-control (i.e., unregulated initial rent for the next tenant(s)), any, rent control law must limit the grounds for eviction.


2 people like this
Posted by The Business Man
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Aug 29, 2019 at 10:54 am

The Business Man is a registered user.

Gary you just in effect demonstrated the flawed business models being used in the state of California by pointing out:

“The article suggests that the landlord rents houses and multi-plexes to re-rent them for a huge profit.”

This “nested” renting has in effect created a housing Ponzi scheme being put on the citizens of California. The landlord was exploiting the fact that theses “shell” transactions are being hidden from the government and the public. By this business model being allowed, you have no incentives to build any more housing. This is why we need a compulsive registration of all housing properties requiring any “price manipulation” business practices be made publicly available and be allowed to be used to enable market regulatory legislation. You said:

“In this instance, it appears that the tenant agreed to pay nearly $4,000 per month for a unit but the landlord had him sign an agreement that states the monthly rent is $10,000. That does remind me of the landlords' "sneaky repeal" petition.”

I don’t know if the tenant ever “signed” the update rent price. The article didn’t state this. Thus either the verbal agreement is recognized under the law, or it is not. The article found here (Web Link) indicates that the property owner is responsible to provide a written agreement within 15 days of the initial agreement.

However, nothing in this story indicates how long it took for the landlord to provide the updated written agreement. If the landlord took longer than 15 days, then in effect the verbal agreement is binding. Then it depends on how many eyewitnesses were there regarding that agreement. You said:

“ Many people did not know what they were signing. But this article also reminds us how the government-sponsored housing shortage here has created the opportunity for landlords to DOUBLE RENTS.”

Again such “nested” rent businesses are simply nothing more than a price gouging business practice because when one rents a property to “re-rent” to another, they are going to try to in effect charge as much they can. And in this manipulated housing shortage of about 4 Million units, this is a perfect case of price gouging. This kind of business model should be prohibited as long as there is a housing shortage. This should be a very easy legislation to pass in California. THIS SHOULD BE STATE LAW.


Like this comment
Posted by The Business Man
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Aug 29, 2019 at 11:10 am

The Business Man is a registered user.

Gary you just in effect demonstrated the flawed business models being used in the state of California by pointing out:

“In this instance, it appears that the tenant agreed to pay nearly $4,000 per month for a unit but the landlord had him sign an agreement that states the monthly rent is $10,000. That does remind me of the landlords' "sneaky repeal" petition.”

I don’t know if the tenant ever “signed” the update rent price. The article didn’t state this. Thus either the verbal agreement is recognized under the law, or it is not. The article found here (Web Link) indicates that the property owner is responsible to provide a written agreement within 15 days of the initial agreement.

However, nothing in this story indicates how long it took for the landlord to provide the updated written agreement. If the landlord took longer than 15 days, then in effect the verbal agreement is binding. If the San Francisco Chronicle (Web Link) indicated the written agreement was present on Aug. 19th and the move in occurred on Aug. 1st, then the landlord has a serious problem because it was longer than the 15 days. On top of that, this break in occurred before the end of the first month as well. It sounds like the landlord took $3900 in the beginning of the month then changed the price on the 19th. WOW this is even more ugly. Simply put, this person tried to rip off these people plain and simple.

DOES CURT CONROY AGREE WITH THIS? DOES JOHN INKS AGREE WITH THIS? DOES THE CAA AGREE WITH THIS?

WHEN WILL THESE PEOPLE COME FORWARD AND EXPLAIN THIS TO US?


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