Blogging Bayport Alameda

August 19, 2019

Duck walking and talking

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:09 am

It’s amazing that we’re getting reporting about Alameda from a British newspaper.  I don’t think we’ve seen this level of outrageous landlord tenant behavior since the Central Avenue apartments evictions which kicked off the rent stabilization discussion in Alameda.

This happens to be about the Dunes in Alameda which is located on Shoreline.  From the Guardian.

[T]he 87-year-old is faced with a threat that he is afraid he won’t survive: his California landlord is evicting him to bring in wealthier tenants, and he has nowhere else to go.

The landlords, who have been fighting to evict Rishin for a year, also targeted his terminally ill son, Yaroslav, who lived with him in the apartment until his death in April. The owners, whose formal reason for the eviction is “desire to lease the unit at a higher rental rate”, sent multiple termination notices and threats to the family while Yaroslav was fighting cancer and while he was in hospice care.


The first letter on 14 August 2018 said the landlords, Margaret Tam and her son Spencer Tam, would be increasing their rent by nearly $700 (from $2,520 to $3200).

“It was outrageous and so unexpected,” he said. “All I have left is money for food and some minimum things to take care of myself.”

Before he could even dispute the increase, the landlords came back with a much more terrifying letter two weeks later: they had decided to evict him and his son, and they had 90 days to leave.

By February, doctors for Yaroslav, who had colon cancer, told the family there was nothing left they could do, saying, “‘You just have to make his life as comfortable as possible – provide him the best life you can,’” Svetlana recalled.

The landlords made that impossible. The final eviction notice was sent on 3 April, and the family tried to conceal it from Yaroslav, but he knew what was happening and could not stop talking about his fears of dying on the street, his sister said. “It was very cruel.”

He died two weeks later at age 57.

And, from the landlords:

In a lengthy phone interview, Margaret Tam defended the eviction and process, saying she wanted to charge market rate for the apartment, and that Musiy was the only Section 8 tenant remaining in the building,

“I’m not a monster,” said Tam, who is based in Arizona. “I’m not a greedy landlord, but I do want to make money when I’m legally able to.”

Asked why she pursued the eviction while Yaroslav was dying, she responded, “Because somebody’s sick, do you get free rent? We have to do what we have to do.”

She said she could renovate and make significantly more money from his unit, argued that she has no obligation to keep him there, and that Musiy should go live with his daughter: “It’s a sad story. I cannot help him.”

It’s a shame that it has to take such an outrageous set of facts for us to get upset about this type of behavior in Alameda: Holocaust survivor, elderly gentleman, eviction attempts of terminally ill tenants, etc.   While business is business, if you’re in the business of providing housing for people maybe you should have a bit of empathy for the people making money for you.


  1. There are good landlords, and there are bad landlords — she is an example of a “very bad landlord”. Worse than that, she’s a cruel human being.

    Comment by Karen Bey — August 19, 2019 @ 6:54 am

    • True of both corporate landlords and mom’n’pop/son landlords, it would seem.

      Comment by BC — August 19, 2019 @ 10:12 am

      • The Dunes on Shoreline would not fall under the everyday understanding of mom and pop, I don’t think. That’s beside the point though. A 27% jack doesn’t work for me either.

        Comment by MP — August 19, 2019 @ 12:29 pm

  2. Fled as a child from Ukraine to Uzbekistan, then to USA, where he and his family found a safe home and he raised two children. Thank God for America. All bills paid by American taxpayers via Section 8, Social Security, and Medi-Cal, where he lived in Alameda for 17 years. I am sorry for the death of his son. However, I don’t think there is much blame nor should the landlord be shamed as she did not break any laws, and is not required to take Section 8 tenants or keep him there indefinitely.

    At 87, he is at the time of life where perhaps he should not be living alone. I hope he can work out a deal to stay a little longer until he finds more affordable housing or moves in with his daughter.

    Comment by Nowyouknow — August 19, 2019 @ 8:01 am

  3. Typical Chinese capitalist, nothing important but making more money.

    Comment by Jack — August 19, 2019 @ 8:10 am

    • Jack, the behavior of the landlord is deplorable and heartless but I must ask that you not use the term “Chinese” in front of capitalist to describe the landlord. A capitalist puts making capital above all else and can be of any race or nationality. Is there some unique differentiation you wish to make? My grandparents are of Chinese ancestry. I have experienced discrimination solely because of my race. To glibly label someone a “Chinese capitalist” just because they have what appears to be a Chinese surname just adds to that junk heap of abuse we’ve come to expect from Mr. Trump who’s main goal is to dehumanize those who disagree with him. We don’t need to use his playbook of racial insults to express our opinions.

      Comment by Serena T Chen — August 19, 2019 @ 4:54 pm

      • You are absolutely right Serena, Mr Tam is a typical American capitalist. Nothing more important than making money.

        Comment by Jack — August 19, 2019 @ 6:26 pm

      • Oh, by the way. Have you ever been in China, Serena?

        Comment by Jack — August 19, 2019 @ 6:29 pm

    • Narrator: And that’s when Jack thought, “this is a horrible story! I wonder how I could make it racist without actually offering anything of substance?”

      Comment by Rod — August 20, 2019 @ 11:02 am

  4. #2 comment by “nowyouknow:” “I am sorry for the death of his son. However……” I think you can really tell a lot about a person by their reaction to this story. Guess “nowyouknow” doesn’t believe in karma. Maybe I don’t either but I believe in what comes around goes around.

    Comment by Mike Henneberry — August 19, 2019 @ 12:09 pm

    • So what is your solution? I suggested an extension until he found affordable housing, and possibly moving in with his daughter based on his advanced age. Love to hear your karmic solution because vilifying the landlord aint it…

      Comment by Nowyouknow — August 19, 2019 @ 8:22 pm

  5. As a mom and pop landlord, I have two issues with these posts: The first is that there are good landlords both in the commercial and the mom and pop side, so please don’t tar us all with the same brush. It really annoys those of us who rent at below market, keep our rentals in good shape and are courteous and friendly to the tenants, whom we consider our neighbors; the second is that this woman and her son are people who are acting greedy, non-empathetic, and like horse’s patoots, and it matters not at all what race or ethnicity they are. They are not kind or reasonable people. Labeling people to show bad behavior is the realm of “the other” is what racists do and say.

    Comment by Kate Quick — August 19, 2019 @ 9:37 pm

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