News

Not guilty plea in 'home invasion' staged to evict tenants

 

A Mountain View landlord has pleaded not guilty to charges that she and her accomplices staged a home invasion against her tenants in an attempt to coerce them into leaving.

At a Sept. 27 court hearing, defendant Reenu Saini and her alleged accomplice, Steven Carling, both denied all charges made by Mountain View police. Both defendants were arrested in August in what police described as an brazen intimidation plan to evict a family from a Rock Street apartment that she managed. When the tenants refused to leave, Saini turned off the power to the apartment, and Carling began breaking down the front door, according to the police report.

Saini has said that her tenants had taken advantage of her by failing to pay rent, and claims that authorities refused to help resolve her situation. Her case is next scheduled to be heard in court on Thursday, Oct. 10.

In related news, Saini has filed a small claims lawsuit against the tenants. The case alleges the family owes Saini thousands of dollars in unpaid rent for staying in a different Mountain View apartment under her management.

No date has been scheduled yet for when the case will be taken up.

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Comments

1 person likes this
Posted by Alex M
a resident of Willowgate
on Oct 11, 2019 at 3:03 pm

Alex M is a registered user.

I'm not a landlord here, but I was one in Texas. Evicting tenants for failure to pay rent was a pretty well established process there, involving notices or certified letters, waiting a reasonable time, and then entering the apartment and clearing out the tenant's possessions (with law enforcement oversight) and changing the locks.

Is it so much harder to evict a tenant here, that a landlord must resort to violent tactics to get rid of a deadbeat? I don't understand what would be so broken in the process to lead a landlord to believe that there are no other options.


7 people like this
Posted by Cool!
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 11, 2019 at 4:02 pm

A not guilty plea usually means a longer sentence once found guilty!


5 people like this
Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Oct 12, 2019 at 12:15 am

Gary is a registered user.

The article says two persons are charged. I guess others were not. When a guest becomes a tenant is not so simple. Airbnb attempts to not create tenancies - just temporary occupants who can be tossed out like guests at a motel. The police usually regard persons who stay a month (without checking out) to be tenants who can only be lawfully ousted by court order. As to a small claims case for unpaid "rent," the procedure is to set a hearing date at the time of filing. So the report of no hearing date is a mystery (to me). I gather the criminal defendants are out of custody. What are the current charges?


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Posted by The Business Man
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 13, 2019 at 5:05 am

The Business Man is a registered user.

Gary,

The likelihood is that the others are now cooperating coconspirators of the crime. They have either a plea deal or given a pass for cooperating.

With regards to the civil court, the arrest and prosecution of the landlord may be good grounds to have the case dismissed by the courts. There is a well know rule called the “Clean Hands Doctrine” and it is defined as(Web Link):

“Clean Hands: Everything You Need to Know

Clean hands is the legal principle that only a party THAT HAS DONE NOTHING WRONG CAN COME TO A COURT WITH A LAWSUIT AGAINST THE OTHER PERSON.”

In this case there was plenty wrong it goes on to say:

“Clean hands is the legal principle that only a party THAT HAS DONE NOTHING WRONG can come to a court with a lawsuit against the other person. If the party bringing the suit has acted in an unfair, ILLEGAL, dishonest, or OTHERWISE IMMORAL WAY IN REGARDS TO THE SUBJECT MATTER AT ISSUE THEN THEY HAVE VIOLATED AN EQUITABLE PRINCIPLE AND HAVE “UNCLEAN HANDS.””

Well that seems to be a satisfied violation in this case it goes on to say:

“Someone who VIOLATES EQUITABLE NORMS cannot then seek equitable relief or claim a defense based in the law of equity. However, only the ACTIVITIES INVOLVED AND RELEVANT TO THE SUBJECT MATTER OF THE LEGAL ACTION ARE CONSIDERED. A party can be a horrible person as long as none of his/her bad acts relate to the legal claim. The immoral conduct can be of EITHER A LEGAL NATURE OR A MORAL ONE, or both; it just HAS TO RELATE TO THE SUBJECT MATTER IN ISSUE.”

Again, it looks like the landlords conduct has in effect blocked their ability to get consideration by any court. Also:

“A defense available to the defendant would be to claim that the plaintiff has unclean hands because THE PLAINTIFF MISLED THE DEFENDANT OR DID SOMETHING ELSE WRONG RELATED TO THE SUBJECT MATTER UNDER SCRUTINY. To successfully claim the affirmative defense of unclean hands, THE DEFENDANT MUST SHOW THAT THE PLAINTIFF DID IN FACT MISLEAD THE DEFENDANT OR THAT A PARTICULAR WRONGDOING IS RELATED TO THE MATTER UNDER CONSIDERATION. This defense may not be used to discuss conduct of the plaintiff that is unrelated to the subject matter of the claim.”

Well, that means all of the records regarding the landlords actions will have to be “discovered” or presented to the court. THIS INCLUDES the postings made on FACEBOOK regarding the planned attack. To me this is going to be a VERY difficult case for the landlord to win.

In effect the fact that these people are being prosecuted may be grounds enough to have the case dismissed.


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Posted by The Business Man
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 13, 2019 at 5:23 am

The Business Man is a registered user.

Raini is charged with attempted robbery which is defined as:

“Attempted robbery is also a violent felony punishable by 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years in state prison.

A person convicted of robbery must serve 85% of his or her prison sentence. Persons serving time in prison for robbery are not eligible for “half time.” Also, robbery is not an 1170(h) felony, which means that any non-probation sentence must be served in state prison, not county jail. A person convicted of robbery is presumptively ineligible for a grant of probation and should be sent to state prison according to the law. However, a judge may find that there are unusual circumstances to spare a person convicted of robbery from state prison and give him or her a chance on probation.

Anyone faced with a robbery charge needs an experienced lawyer to fight the charges and, if necessary, convince the judge and the prosecutor to keep the accused out of state prison.

Another charge is of California state laws establish two types of burglary: first-degree and second-degree. State law defines first-degree burglary as any burglary of an inhabited dwelling. During burglary prosecutions, an inhabited dwelling is any house, vessel, or other property designed for habitation and currently inhabited at the time of the burglary. "Currently inhabited" means that the property was used as a dwelling at the time of the burglary, even if nobody was actually occupying the property then. State law also includes properties abandoned due to a natural disaster or local emergency as currently-inhabited properties.

Any burglary not qualifying as first-degree burglary will proceed as a case of second-degree burglary such as commercial burglary of a business or store.

First Degree Burglary: Felony punishable by up to six years in county jail and/or a maximum 1,000 fine, probation, restitution to the victim(s)”

Raini is charged with conspiracy to commit a crime which is defined as:

“Conspiracy is an independent crime and can be punished in addition to the intended crime. Thus, if two or more people conspire to commit murder and then murder someone, each person involved in the conspiracy is potentially guilty of two crimes: conspiracy to commit murder and murder. In some cases, the defendant may not be found guilty of the completed crime but will be found guilty of the conspiracy.

When conspirators conspire to commit a felony, they are punished in the same manner and to the same extent as is provided for the punishment of that felony. In other words, if a defendant is charged with conspiracy to commit residential first degree burglary and is also charged with residential burglary, punishable by two (2), four (4) or six (6) years in state prison, then a defendant found guilty of both the conspiracy and the burglary would be the same sentence for the conspiracy, and for the burglary.

A member of a conspiracy is criminally responsible for all of the crimes committed by the co-conspirators that occur within the scope and in furtherance of the conspiracy, regardless of whether or not he or she assisted in the commission of the crimes or was even aware of the crimes.”

It appears she is facing at least up to 6 years in prison.


Like this comment
Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Oct 18, 2019 at 12:00 am

Gary is a registered user.

There is a follow-up story in tomorrow's MV Voice which points out that Saini claims she rented the unit for $4500 per month and re-rented to the tenant(s) on a month-to-month basis for $10,000 per month. The tenant claims the rental agreement was for $3,900 per month. But it appears the tenant claims the written rental agreement he received had been changed to insert $10,000 instead of $3,900 in monthly rent. Either way, a month-to-month tenancy (in the first year) is terminated by either a 30-day notice or a 3-day notice (usually to pay past due rent or quit) and only once the notice period expires and the tenant is guilty of unlawful detainer, may the landlord (here Saini) sue for eviction. A landlord may pay money or make some other deal to persuade the tenant to leave. But a landlord cannot lawfully get the police or friends or thugs to oust the tenant. So, Saini is in deep shi.. trouble. As to her civil suits for rent, she may have claims. Unclean hands is an equitable defense in an equitable action. A lawsuit for breach of a contract (nonpayment of agreed rent) is not an equitable action. The tenant could cross-complain. Here is my thought. The tenant should cross-complain for more than the monetary jurisdiction of small claims division and get all of the cases together in regular division. The tenant's attorney then might seek a stay or protective order against discovery pending resolution of the criminal case against Saini. And don't forget to also sue her cohorts. And at least as to Saine, consider a cause of action for unfair competition (aka unlawful business practices) under the Business and Professions Code, see section 17200 for starters).


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