Rent is a reality, and rent usually, eventually goes up, especially when a property changes hands or is sold to a new owner or management group. However, rent cannot rise based on racism. According to the Fair Housing Act of 1988, it is illegal to discriminate against a renter on the “basis of race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, and national origin. Its coverage includes private housing [like an apartment complex] . . . . It is unlawful to discriminate in any aspect of selling or renting housing . . .” https://www.ada.gov/cguide.htm#anchor63409
So, when Sundial Real Estate LLC of Mesa, AZ bought the Campus Arms II apartments in Tempe, AZ (10 units total) in July 2018, we as tenants expected some changes, including the rent to be raised. My rent was increased by $50 to $692; I have lived there for two (2) years, always paid rent on time and in full, and have been a model tenant (or at least a problem-free tenant). However, my neighbor Robert, who has lived there for over seven (7) years, had his rent raised over $300 dollars; he will now be paying $911. His apartment and mine are exactly the same — a single-floor, one-bedroom, one-bath, kitchen, and open/living area. Robert is employed by an aerospace group near the PHX Sky Harbor Airport; prior to that he worked for the City of Tempe. He pays his rent on time and in full. He has been a perfect tenant, quiet, respectful, professional.
Why has his rent increased over 25%? At first they wrote him that his increase would total about $615 with taxes; then they sent him that same rental increase notice with the word ‘VOID’ written on it, and replaced it with the +$300/$911 total version. He has given his 30 day notice, but would prefer to stay, if only the rent were increased to a reasonable level, like mine. Three other tenants have been de facto ‘evicted’ or told that their leases would not be renewed. This includes an elderly woman who has lived there for fifteen (15) years, and a couple who have acted as on-site managers for the last fourteen (14) years.
We both would prefer to stay in our units, but not if the rent increases for no particular reason; they have not, for example, remodeled or modernized the apartments; no one has a dish washing machine or a washer/dryer. No one has double-pained windows or awnings, or even private patio space. No one has granite counter-tops or hardwood floors. It is a very humble, simple, plain, small collection of cement block apartments that do not warrant higher prices. Yes, Tempe is under-going re-gentrification, and its proximity to ASU makes it a desirable location, but Robert should not be asked to pay an extra $300/month for those intangibles. We have contacted Sundial Real Estate but have not heard back from them. Here is my ($50) rent increase. I am white, female, employed.
UPDATE August 29, 2018: We are filing a Fair Housing complaint with HUD via the City of Tempe, and we are contacting Maricopa County chapter of the NAACP, and our local Fox News television station.