Oakland tenants refuse to pay rent, hope to buy property from owner

Tenants living at one Fruitvale apartment complex are refusing to pay rent. But that's not all, they also want to buy the property from the owner.

The tenants say they're frustrated with ignored and repeated requests for repairs, and with increases in the cost of their rent. 

"In the sink, due to the leaky pipes... the wood is all rotted out," says resident Francisco Perez.

For the past four months, Perez, a retired roofer, has been on a rent strike. He joins six of the building's 14 total tenants in the strike.

"How come he doesn't want to take care of us? It's so easy. We don't demand anything too fancy or anything," says Perez.

The tenants hope the landlord will sell the building on 29th Ave to them so they can take over the responsibilities themselves.

The tenants are working with two groups that supported 'Moms 4 Housing,' a group of mothers who illegally squatted in a West Oakland home before a judge ordered them to be evicted. The mothers are now hoping to buy that home.

"They are actually willing to sit down and negotiate the sale of the property, which we see as a fantastic win," says Israel Lepiz of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment.

Lepiz says the rent strike came as a last resort.

"The rent strike is something that you don't go to right away. It's something that you reach after you've exhausted all your other options," says Lepiz.

A second group, the Oakland Community Land Trust, has secured $3.2 million from donors in hopes of buying the Fruitvale apartment complex.

Owners of the property did not return repeated requests for comment. 

Tenants hope to hear by the end of the month if their offer will be accepted.