March 17, 2012

A dozen plus tenants in a million-dollar hood

Foreclosure rattles upscale San Jose neighborhood, and tenants

By Pete Carey, San Jose Mercury News
Posted:   03/14/2012 05:53:36 PM PDT, Updated: 03/15/2012 10:14:37 AM PDT

120315-lacastellet-partitionsThe two-story home in the East San Jose foothills could belong to any well-to-do family, but step through the door and you’re inside a million-dollar suburban foreclosure quagmire.

More than a dozen adults and their pets have been living in a warren of rented rooms in the foreclosed house, turning a tranquil cul-de-sac into what one upset neighbor called "a nightmare for all of us living on that block."

120315-lacastellet-laundryAccording to attorneys for the tenants, the former owner was renting out rooms — including the laundry room and a living room split in two — in the months after the home was foreclosed by the bank. They claim she never told tenants about the foreclosure. Now the tenants face eviction in a hearing to be held Thursday in Santa Clara County Superior Court.

San Jose police officers have responded 16 times since September to resolve disputes and disturbances at the five bedroom, four bath home on La Castellet Court, where houses are valued at $1 million or more. The city’s code enforcement department says it has an open case on the house.      

120315-lacastellet-staircaseRemember the Cubicle House?  This owner simply took that idea one step further now that rentals beat office space.

For all of you who have been criticizing the idea of The Real Bay Area versus The Part That Is Not, this should definitively settle those arguments.  Things like this simply Do Not Happen In The Real Bay Area.  If someone in Los Altos Hills were to notice 15 cars parked along the street in front of the 4,000 square foot housing tumor next door, Code Enforcement would not merely say they have “an open case on the house.”

And in Palo Alto, every one of those vehicles would have collected parking tickets within 2 hours and 10 minutes.

Anyway, our intrepid reporters have tracked down the house in question.

120315-lacastellet-redfin

Unfortunately for purposes of journalistic outrage, the Streetview photo does not have the aforementioned excess vehicle collection.

120315-lacastellet-streetview

Zillow can show us the neighborhood values.

120315-lacastellet-zestimates

Homeowners here certainly may have paid over a million for this area, but Zillow has a disturbing lack of faith in their reported valuations.  The expressway-like street against the backyards is Aborn. 

And if you’re wondering why the FB felt the need to fill this home chock-a-block with tenants while hiding from Bank of America, wait until you hear the bubblicious price paid for this place: $1,580,000 on Halloween of 2006. 

Comments (16) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:09 am

16 Responses to “A dozen plus tenants in a million-dollar hood”

  1. Tracy Tea House Says:

    http://www.provenceweb.fr/e/var/castellt/castellt.htm

    The village of Castellet is one of the Var region’s top tourist attractions. This superb little feudal village perched on the tip of its promontory will enchant you with its typical Provencal picturesque setting.

    Not to mention its small squares lined with beautiful old houses that have been carefully restored with taste highlighting the old stonework.

  2. CHuck Says:

    This is insane, building cabins in the living room to pack more people and still go for foreclosure. The owner must have just piled up the cash while not paying the bills.

  3. PKamp3 Says:

    Rule # 1 of Bay Area home hunting: check the number of cars on the street during the workday. It’s a decent way to figure out which houses are (how do you say?) oversubscribed…

    Seriously, 12? How did they get the 12th tenant? “Well, we have 11 people renting now, but we can wall off half the laundry room for you…”

  4. The Gilroy Alex Says:

    #2 – If they’re smart, that’s what they did. Put the money into “junk” silver coins and BURY ‘em somewhere. Then live low, “below the radar” for a few years, oops wait, that’s what we all have to do for the forseeable future.

  5. Petsmart groomer Says:

    Walking distance to mosquito-breeding lake.

  6. nomadic Says:

    I love how they built the living room cubes without bothering to take down the curtains first.

    #2, she didn’t move out and start packing in tenants until AFTER the house was in foreclosure. You can bet she was just filling her pockets in the meantime. I wonder if it was worth risking jail.

  7. SEA Says:

    Note the “pending with release” in the listing history:

    “Dec 09, 2011 - Delisted (Cancelled) – – MLSListings #3
    Nov 29, 2011 Sold (Public Records)
    This home was foreclosed. $1,000,000 – Public Records
    Oct 01, 2011 - Pending (Pending With Release) – – MLSListings #3
    Sep 14, 2011 - Relisted (Active) – – MLSListings #3″

    That foreclosure put a stop to the sale.

  8. madhaus Says:

    This reaction from the former homeloaner is priceless:

    The former owner, Emma Nguyen, who once operated the Abyss nightclub in Sunnyvale, said the tenants should stop complaining.
    “They have already received what they paid me for,” said Nguyen “If they are unhappy with it as a place to live, they should move out.” Whether she owned the home or not was “none of their business,” Nguyen said. “This is month-to-month renting. They have already lived out their $600 or $700″ rent payments, which were for the month of January.
    “So far everybody is getting one month free rent and utilities, and they’re heading into the second month right now,” Nguyen said.
    Public records show that Nguyen first received a notice she was in default two years ago. Notices that the home was going to be foreclosed on were filed in June and August. She said she moved out in October.

  9. SEA Says:

    #8- Who would expect the former ‘owner’ to care about rentards?

  10. The Gilroy Alex Says:

    HAHAHA the aptly-named Abyss in Slummyvale?? LOL that place is a crime-magnet! Downtown Slummyvale is a grim place and a dangerous one late at night, but the Abyss single-bar’edly increases the crime about 3X. Makes Paul&Harvey’s seem like a classy joint. I mean, in Paul&Harvey’s, you might get hit over the head with a pool cue. In the Abyss, you stand a chance of getting gutted like a catfish, and it would probably be for having insufficient melanin.

  11. nomadic Says:

    #8, she has a point. At least she was honest enough to make it a month-to-month deal, rather than pretending they could stay for a longer term. However, renting out foreclosed property is still illegal so I hope they make her pay back (to the bank) every penny of rent collected.

  12. madhaus Says:

    nomadic, we haven’t seen the lease agreements, so we don’t know if it was a month-to-month deal, or a one-year or six-month lease followed by month-to-month or what. But yeah, she was no longer the owner of the house and had no right to rent the rooms out at all, and not telling the tenants that a foreclosure was going to hit/already hit shows deliberate deceit on her part.

    I wonder if there were any City of San Jose ordinances broken on top of that in renting a 4 bedroom house to “over a dozen” separate tenants, including the cubes in the living room, plus the laundry room.

  13. Jb Says:

    Yes, the curtains in the living room….and the RBA – I completely agree that this would never happen in many places. Imagine this on one of those lanes in Atherton….or Woodside. Never imagined someone would bother to put up walls/ceiling. I saw a non RBA 3 bedroom – maybe 1700 sq feet – we counted bedding for at least 12 people – some beds were being slept in as we looked at the house (a short sale). No cars in the driveway.

  14. Sunny(vale) Kim Says:

    News update related to this property.
    The “landlord” is shot in recent homicide-suicide incident.

  15. nomadic Says:

    Thanks for the update, “Kim.” That’s an awful end to the story. Her poor kid.

  16. Susan I. Sheehan Says:

    I know that this is an old story, but it happened to me personally. I had lost my job in November of 2011, and subsequently lost my apartment as I was the manager. I applied for jobs, but there was nothing I was qualified for in the tough job market in the Bay Area at that time. My partner and I searched far and wide for an apartment we could afford, to no avail. We then decided to search for a room. We hit all of the sites, Craigslist being the top contender for our search. Room after room denied us. They either did not like the fact that we are Lesbians, or that we had a cat, or both, but we could NOT find a place to live, that is, until we found the NIGHTMARE FROM HELL!

    We moved into Emma’s on January 14th, 2012, and found out about the foreclosure a week later. Immediately I set out to find an attorney to represent us. Yes, I understand that I did not conduct a search on the property. I did not suspect foreclosure. I am not a RENTARD! My partner and I were desperate for a place to live.

    We were able to obtain help from the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley, whose team of lawyers agreed to defend us against Bank of America. We were able to convince most of the other renters to get on board in order to be protected.

    The time we spent at this house was a nightmare. On a daily basis, it was one flew over the cuckoos next times lord of the flies. I had never in my entire life been in a situation such as this. Seventeen people, ten dogs, two cats, no refrigerator, because had come while we were gone and taken it. She also dumped cement down all of the drains, toilets, tubs, and showers.

    Yes, we got out. Yes, Emma was murdered just a few weeks afterwards. Yes, it was turmoil. The police were called repeatedly by a man named Henrick Coster, who was a trouble maker extraordinaire, and was in collusion with Emma, being paid by him to keep his mouth shut and tell her everything that went on at the house. He wasn’t he only one in collusion with Emma. There were several, including one of her former employees by the name of L.J.


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