Tenants rally in front of landlord’s Naan “N” Curry restaurant to demand repairs

by Ben Ng, 2013-01-18

A large group of angry tenants, families, and other community leaders of the Tenderloin held a loud protest in front of their landlord’s restaurant, Naan “N” Curry, to demand better living conditions for their apartment complex at 308 Turk Street. The two-story yellow building, better known as “308 Turk”, has become notorious for its housing code violations, as cited by the Department of Building Inspection (DBI). Though tenants of 308 Turk pay high rents for their apartments, the conditions in which they live in are anything but livable. Lack of heat, lack of security, mold, leaking pipes, broken windows, and rodent infested rooms are just some of the concerns tenants of 308 Turk are tired of facing.

Atique Rehman, owner of 308 Turk, is also a business partner of Naan “N’ Curry. According to the tenants, Rehman has made no attempts or taken any initiative to address the many complaints for much needed repairs in the building. In November 2012, the tenants sent letters with final requests to address their problems and never heard from Rehman. With more than thirty (30) active Notice of Violations (NOV) issued by DBI, there has been no response from this negligent landlord.

Taking matters into their own hands, community activist along with few tenants could be seen standing in front of the restaurant with images of mold and pest infested apartment complexes while chanting, “Shame on Atique Rehman!” An otherwise popular restaurant for lunch, Naan “N” Curry was empty today as curious onlookers glared in disgust at the building pictures and finally turned away.

As Program Coordinator for the Code Enforcement Outreach Program at Tenderloin Housing Clinic, I’ve been working with tenants from 308 Turk for about two months. Despite having tenants made requests to the landlord, Rehman has done absolutely nothing to address the atrocious condition of the building.

Several Director’s Hearings have been held by DBI, the latest hearing on Thursday, January 10th with a seven (7) day Order of Abatement issued. Yet the owner still has not acted, and the case went through a litigation committee review with DBI on Tuesday, January 15th. With the final outcome of the committee, the case was referred over to City Attorney to be considered for civil action.

“How is my new born baby going to be able to live like this if we adults can’t even handle breathing in and ingesting the mold that covers the walls,” says Juan, a tenant who’s been there for over three years. “I’m a tenant that pays $1100.00 every month but the landlord neglected us.”

After chanting in front of the owner’s restaurant, protestors walked inside of Naan “N” Curry and delivered a letter urging immediate action from Rehman. The onsite manager accepted the letter on behalf of the absent owner.

Shortly after the protest, the angry landlord went to 308 Turk and verbally asked some tenants to leave immediately. However, community leaders from Central City SRO collaborative and S.F.P.D intervened and asked Atique Rehman to leave the tenant’s apartment.

Tenants from 308 Turk are hoping that this action will urge Rehman to make much needed changes in their building. With support from community leaders, neighborhood organizations, and D.B.I, the tenants have a better outlook for the future of their building.

Housing conditions have improved dramatically in the Tenderloin over the past decade, with rundown buildings like 308 Turk the exception. The tenants and community are sending a powerful message that they will not tolerate landlords like Rehman, who may soon lose the building in foreclosure. Should this occur, tenants are hopeful that their repair needs will finally be addressed.

Other media coverage of the protest can be found at http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/video/8203020-frustrated-sf-tenants-protests-outside-landlords-restaurant/ and http://www.ktvu.com/s/news/video/