NewsLocal NewsIn Your NeighborhoodKern River Valley


'It's not fair' No fault eviction leaves Lake Isabella resident with few options

A complex in Lake Isabella has put notices of termination for cause on multiple tenants' doors, giving them 60 days to move out
Posted at 6:22 PM, Mar 26, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-27 14:22:13-04

LAKE ISABELLA, Calif. (KERO) — A complex in Lake Isabella has put notices of termination for cause on several tenants doors, giving them 60 days to move out.

  • Video shows the apartment of Karen Hricik, who has packed up most of her belongings in anticipation of being removed from the apartment complex she has lived at since 2018.
  • Several tenants at an apartment complex in Lake Isabella are experiencing no fault evictions, meaning that although they have done nothing wrong, they have to move out.

On February 14th, many people were receiving Valentine's cards, but Karen Hricik found a different kind note affixed to her door when she came home that day. Taped to her apartment door was a notice of termination for cause, which meant that she was getting evicted and for reasons that are no fault of her own.
“I was devastated, it just blew my mind. I’ve been a wreck since then,” Hricick said.

Since 2018, Karen Hricick has lived in her apartment off of Crestview Avenue in Lake Isabella. The termination for cause notice was dated February 3rd, but she had been away visiting family until the 14th. It gave her 60 days to move out.

A copy of the termination letter Hricick says she received

“It said I had to be out by April 3rd.”

Under the Tenant Protection Act, Californian landlords need just-cause to evict a tenant.

“There’s two forms of just-cause, there is at fault just-cause, which means the tenant did something which caused the tenancy to be terminated, and there is no fault just cause,” said Anthony Estrada, a staff attorney with Greater Bakersfield Legal Assistance.

Hricik’s eviction is a no fault eviction.

“I pay my rent every month, I’ve never been late,” said Hricik.

The notice states the landlord plans to substantially remodel the unit. According to the California Department of Justice, to be a substantial remodel, the landlord must “either replace or substantially modify a structural, electrical, plumbing or other system in the unit in a way that requires a permit.”

“It’s going to require the tenant to leave for more than thirty days,” Estrada said.

Hricik said she is worried that the remodel was being used as an excuse to get her out and raise the rent.

I spoke with the owner of the property Phillip Bernado over the phone, who says he made the purchase roughly two years ago. He told me the property is in need of substantial remodeling, and he has done everything in accordance with the law.

A similar, but renovated, 375 square-foot unit in the same complex as Hricik is listed for $900 dollars a month - double the $450 that Hricik has been paying since 2018.

“Phil, that’s the landlord, he did offer me one of the studio apartments after they remodel it, but that one would be $800 dollars and it’s smaller than the place I have right now. And I can’t afford that being on social security.”

Hricick says she relies solely on social security ever since losing her job at a diner during covid.

Now, she’s packing her things up to put into storage before moving in with her nephew in Bakersfield. After that, she says she’s looked into Section 8 housing.

“So I was thinking of getting a job and with my social security and a job, I could maybe swing a new place for myself.”

Although legal, these types of no-fault evictions can take a toll on the most vulnerable.

“Does this whole process and what you are being put through, does it feel fair to you?” I asked.

“No, not at all, I’ve been a good tenant, I don’t cause trouble, I dont destroy things,” Hricik said, “It’s just been rough on me and it’s just really hard to find anything I can afford. I'm all alone and I'm counting on my family.”

Stay in Touch with Us Anytime, Anywhere: