Tenant Manages to Live Rent Free for 2 Years in Chula Vista

Luis Castro fought against five eviction notices for nearly two years, but he ultimately prevailed and continues to reside in his home of 14 years. Castro’s experience highlights the importance of tenants knowing their rights and fighting for them. According to Castro, landlords often rely on tenants’ ignorance and passivity to avoid legal battles.

Castro began his fight after receiving his first eviction notice on May 16, 2021, which Telemundo 20 covered in an interview. Despite receiving five eviction notices in 21 months, Castro refused to vacate his home. The eviction notices were based on the pretext of substantial renovations, which, according to Castro’s investigation, did not require permission from the city. 

Although the other tenants were evicted, Castro refused to leave, and the owner of the Johnson apartments sued him for illegal occupation three times. However, the lawsuits were withdrawn just before the court date. Castro did not spend any money on lawyers, as the city and Legal Aid Society provided free resources.

Ultimately, Castro’s persistence paid off, and he was able to stay in his home for 21 months without paying rent, and the owner agreed to pay him $30,000, including $10,000 in cash and $20,000 in back rent. The lawyers of the owners of the apartments declined to comment on the case.

Castro encouraged other tenants facing similar situations to investigate whether their eviction notice is valid and to fight for their rights. He emphasized that tenants must not give up and must be aware of their rights to defend themselves. 

The Legal Aid Society offers free workshops for tenants, and they recommend attending these classes before receiving an eviction notice so that they are prepared to avoid losing their homes.