Illegal evictions harm families, neighborhoods


By Jessica Suico, Advocate Staff

Most people are oblivious to what goes on in their own neighborhoods and seem opposed to making friends, holding a conversation or even showing someone that may need help the respect that they deserve.

Living within a Homeowners Association (HOA) neighborhood, residents must live a bit differently than living in the same conditions with a landlord or property manager.

There are different laws and regulations that you must live by while in a HOA.

In rare cases, tenants aren’t informed of those regulations and when this occurs it is tough to determine who is at fault when rules are broken.

East Bay residents Bonnie Vann and Carol Vann-Totlis were evicted amid claims of breaking an HOA agreement, despite the two women having a background of extensive medical complications.

In California it is illegal to evict people because of medical reasons, and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Fair Housing laws protect those people.

Under California law, any violation of the ADA is considered a civil rights violation. Landlords must accommodate the needs of disabled tenants, within reason, at the landlord’s expense, by (42 U.S.C 3604 F3B).

According to the U.S. Fair Housing Act section 800, as a disabled tenant, you may expect your landlord to reasonably adjust rules, procedures or services to give you an equal opportunity to use and enjoy your dwelling, unit or common space.

In the case of Vann and Vann-Totlis, the property owner and HOA claim there were disturbances coming from the house.

On some occasions emergency and medical services were summoned.

Numerous false complaints about Vann and Vann-Totlis were made to the owner of the complex and just days after signing the rental agreement the tenants were presented with an eviction notice.

Prior to receiving the notice, the tenants penned their own letters, detailing their own feelings of harassment by management and their new neighbors.

Management chose to ignore the tenants’ letters and concerns and shortly after the notice was sent, Vann was hospitalized for a mental breakdown.

Vann-Totlis suffers from malnutrition due to the stress caused by facing an unjust eviction.

The Federal Fair Housing Amendment Act (42 U.S. code 3601-3619, 3631) prohibits discrimination against people who have a physical or mental disability including mobility impairments, visual impairments or mental illness.

Not getting to know your neighbors while jumping to conclusions created an awful situation for two women who needed help instead of harm.

Contra Costa County officials have failed to follow explicit portions of ADA laws and fair housing laws.

Jessica Suico is a staff member of The Advocate. Contact her at [email protected].