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Evicted Holtville tenant wins settlement

by Roman FloresImperial Valley Press
July 28th, 2011

Former Holtville resident Cova McMally won a monetary settlement Monday against the owners of the small building complex known as the Klassy Karrot Kottages after being evicted from her home last week.

In an article raising the question about a possible rise in the amount of tenant-landlord disputes in Imperial County, it was reported that McMally was evicted from the Klassy Karrot Kottages with her children.

Friday a court decision was made in favor of McMally after an order to show cause and temporary restraining order was approved by an Imperial County Superior Court judge in El Centro.

Court order

The document also ordered that the defendants, David Vernon and Alida Reyenga, show cause for: interrupting or terminating utility services furnished to McMally, preventing the plaintiff from having access to the premises by changing the locks, removing outside doors and appliances, removing personal property and “taking any action calculated to force plantiff to vacate the premises other than resort to those methods available under California law,” according to the document.

Also, the temporary restraining order also required the owner or owners of the Klassy Karrot Kottages to “immediately restore to plaintiff all utility services,” effectively ordering the owners to pay for McMally’s temporary housing in other accommodations, California Rural Legal Assistance staff attorney Franchesca Gonzalez said.

“Because we reached the settlement before going into court (Monday) the judge basically recognized that there is an issue,” Gonzalez said. “(McMally) is pretty happy about it.”

Gonzalez said the original court order was amended to extend the legal protection of the court over not only CRLA’s client, McMally, but also over every resident of the Kottages since some residents provided declarations to CRLA to be used in court on McMally’s behalf.

Gonzalez said although McMally’s case is over and done with, the judge did comment on the fact that the issue of whether Klassy Karrot Kottages is really an apartment complex or a motel was not defined by McMally’s case.

The other side

Klassy Karrot Kottages co-owner Alida Reyenga stressed her point — both when McMally was being evicted and days after the settlement had been reached — that the Kottages is a motel and not a set of apartments, she said.

“This is a motel. Anybody who comes here is a guest and if they stay here more than 30 days they become tenants,” Reyenga said last week.

“Because we’re a motel we let them come in without a security deposit,” Reyenga said. “We have good, low-income people stay here and we work with them.”

Reyenga and McMally both disagreed on both the length of time that McMally resided in the Kottages and whether McMally was on time with her rent, with many other accusations against each other.

“We have been told by many of our residents that Dave and I are the best owners they have ever dealt with,” Reyenga wrote in an e-mail. “We ourselves work very hard and especially in this economy have to live on less money than most of the residents of the Kottages.

“If it weren’t for the good residents, the bad ones would break your heart,” Reyenga wrote.

McMally in the aftermath

Meanwhile, McMally said she will work to get her and her children’s lives back in order now that the whole ordeal is over on her end of the issue.

“Right now my biggest goal is just to get my kids and get everything set so they can be in school,” McMally said Tuesday from a motel in El Centro.

“I’m not going after anyone, I just want to get a stable place for my kids,” McMally said.

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