Scamlord Story- Sharena Diamond Thomas

Tiny - Posted on 18 August 2019

My name is Sharena Diamond Thomas, and I'm informing everybody of what's  going on in my neck of the woods, East Oakland. I'm dealing with a slum lord. 


I've been in this apartment for almost two years with my family. And my landlord has literally drained me, financially, of everything. I've been replacing things that have been taken and lost in here. The landlord has not been repairing stuff, not having professional people come out and do the repairs. This has caused me and my family a great amount of stress and trauma. 


I called PG&E out to my apartment because my heater had a hissing, buzzing sound. My carbon mononixe detectors didn't go off, but it was still concerning me. So the guy came out, he checked my furnace, and he said that it didn't have carbon monoxide poisoning, but it did need to be serviced. He asked me to turn on the heater. When I turned on the heater, a smell came out of the heater that overwhelmed him to the point that he said, this must not have been cleaned in years. He said there was a back up of dust and other unhealthy things, terehat me and my family have been breathing in. Unhealthy fumes, from the furnace not being cleaned properly.


He shut down the furnaces, the one in the hallway and the one in my living room. So, we weren't going to be able to use heat.


He asked me where my hot water heater was, and I pointed him to the closet. The only time I go in there is when I sweep. But the man looked down and showed me a part that had started to melt. He informed me that the gas line, which was hooked up next to the overheated part, was a riskj. If it had gone up anymore, the whole apartment buiding would have blown out.


He disconnected my gas. Then he looked up pointed out a huge hole in the cieling. He said, look, that hole is so big, animals could come in here. He was saying, when you have your heat set on automatic, as they suggest you do, and the heat rises up, but you have a huge hole in the cieling, it will never get to the proper temperature to be safe for us. 


He said, on top of that, water is dripping down. When it rains, water comes in. And if you look at the cieling, the PG&E man said that the cieling shows evidence of past leakages.


Something is wrong with how they're hooking up the hot water heater.


I called my landlord. I sent my landlord a copy of the report from PG&E. It includes a bright pink "Hazard notice."


The landlord basically undermined me. She said she was going to send somebody out here. I told her they needed to be a licensed contractor, like the paperwork says. So, she sent her handyman over. I couldn't allow him to do the work, because he told us verbally that he did not have a licesne to do this.


I was scared. This is gas. Somebody unprofessionaly installed it in the first place. Who would allow that hole to be right there on the cieling, if they were a professional?


At this point, I've spent so much money on PG&E. I told the landlord, my PG&E bill has been so high, and my daughter and I have been struggling to pay these bills. It's on a payment plan, and we're just trying to stay afloat. Now, we see this hole. This is why.


I asked my landlord about my bill. How was she going to rectify that? And shouldn't she be putting me and my family in motel? We couldn't take baths or showers, we didn't have access to warm water, our gas was off. She didn't respond. The only thing she said was that a contractor was supposed to be here to fix it. She didn't say "licensed."


I said, what about the holes, and the hanging wires? There are wires hanging from the ceiling, next to a drip. That drip is a result of water, probably flowing over that way and dripping over the cord.


The next day, Housing came over. The inspector came out and looked at it, and asked me if the hole was noted in the PG&E paperwork. Housing actually passed this inspection with this hole up there. But they asked me if it was in the notes, and I told them that yes, it was in the notes. The notes mention the hole and how unsafe it is for it to be here. And if those wires were live wires, PG&E could not help with that. PG&E can only help with wires outside the unit.


They said that this needed to be installed by a contractor. I'm supposed to abide by that and follow through.


I've been going through a lot since I've been here. We moved in here and as a single parent, I was working, and I was trying to do better for my kids by providing them with brand new furniture. I was working hard like a dog to afford this. 


Then we got infested with bedbugs. This apartment building had been infested for a long time, untreated. So all the brand new furniture that I purchased for my family-- we had it delivered to this apartment. We didn't bring furniture here. I purchased brand new furniture for my kids. Piece by piece, layaway by layaway, to give my kids furniture. And the landlord undermined us. She ignored the fact that we were telling her we were getting bitten, to the point that I had to rush my baby girl to the hospital, because she was having a reaction. That's how we found out what was going on. We had never had that problem before. The landlord ignored it.


The health department came out. He went through everybody's apartment, found some bedbugs, but didn't really notate it. I don't think he took it as seriously as he was supposed to. This gave the landlord the chance to be deceitful to me, and continue to let my family suffer and get bit. 


They never paid for a motel room, which is required by state law, or reimbursed me for the furniture. The only thing they did for me was $20 toward laundry and $50 toward a cover for the beds.


After all this, the trouble with the heater came up again. My heater in the hallway was making some noise. It had a smell that came from it, like a burnt smell. I came to find out that it needed to be serviced and cleaned, that maybe it hasn't been cleaned properly. So, I called PG&E out. 


PG&E came to my house. When they came out, they guy asked me if he could see my hot water heater. I pointed to my closet in the kitchen. He looked down and he said, "oh my god, this is the worst thing I've ever seen."


I said, "what is it?"


He said, "come here," and he immediately cut off my gas.


He said, "look." And what he showed me was that my hot water heater was actually on fire. There were flames coming out of the nozzle. It was less than 10 inches away from the gas line.


We ended up having to evacuate my unit. 


At this point, we had no gas. I called my landlord right away to tell her what was going on. The property manager tells me that she couldn't talk to me, she'll call me back in an hour or so. I called the owner of the building. She told me not to talk to her, that I had to talk to the property manager. I got thrown around that day.


That night, we ended up staying in my house, with no hot water. I've been buying water ever since they turned off my gas to the house. We didn't have heat, gas or hot water. My landlord kept calling for different people to come out to fix it. The paperwork said I was supposed to have a licensed contractor come out to do the job, and my daughter and I kept pushing on her to do that, because with the history of staying here, she has always put a band-aid over sores in this building that are very toxic, that are very harmful to people's health. 


I asked for it to be a licensed contractor. And she didn't do that. She hired somebody to come out that didn't have credentials to do it. I turned them away the first time. The second time they came back, and somebody had a card, saying that they were a licensed contractor to the job. They came in, and they took my hot water heater out. When they took the hot water heater out, I said, if you don't know how to do this, pleaes, please, please don't do it. My kids are in her.


The guy wouldn't talk to me, he just kept on doing the work. Him and his friends, whoever were working with him, while they were hooking it up, but they were taking pictures of the instructions and trying to look up how to hook up the hot water heater. That made me very nervous at that point. I stayed to watch them, and I recorded them. 


After they plugged it up and got ready to walk out, the hot water heater started making a loud kicking sound while it was there. The man kept going and touching it, because the hot water heater was getting warm. 


I called PG&E right away. PG&E told us to get out of the house, to evacuate, and to call 911. 


I had to get my kids out of the house. My neighbors out of the house. I'm a first responder. So I was trying to get everybody out, because I didn't want anybody hurt. I got my kids and got out.


The fire department came, the PG&E people came. They rushed up in my house. My neighbor downstairs needed medical attention, because she's disabled, and getting out of the house was really strenuous for her. My daughter needed medical attention. They go upstairs and see that the guy turned on my gas, with no water in it. So that's a cocktail to blow up. 


During this whole time, when my landlord was communicating with me, she was very rude. I requested that she speak to me in English about the things that have been going on in this apartment, while she's communicating with those workers, and she wouldn't do that. And that really upset me, because those are the same people that messed up hooking up the hot water heater. 


In this process, I did turn in my paperwork to housing, and housing did come out and abate my apartment. Meaning that the housing authority will no longer pay for this apartment, and they won't be paying for it because the landlord has not been able to pass inspections two times, with me having no hot water and, at that point, no gas. The housing authority told me to call the city code compliance, and that's what I did. When I did that, city code compliance came out, and they checked my unit. They discovered that there wasn't a permit for my hot water heater to be installed in the unit. The inspector kept saying, "why is this hot water heater in the kitchen?" 


My landlord is now upset with me because the city came out and inspected this unit, and now all of the band-aids that they put in this apartment have came to be seen. They retaliated against me for that. I can't cook in my kitchen. My water is in white. That means that I don't feel comfortable cooking with this water. I've been buying water.


I've been running back and forth from one motel to the next, trying to take care of my kids. It's just impossible.


If you want to see what's been going on, check my timeline. I'm Sharena Diamond Thomas on facebook.



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