San Diego State student confronts landlords on unpermitted rental

ByTommie C. Curtis

Jul 25, 2022 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The mom of a college student recorded the confrontation in May, though demanding a refund from the landlords.

SAN DIEGO — A warning for San Diego State College learners who are determined to hire tough-to-locate, off-campus housing: Make absolutely sure you tour the property in advance of signing a deal or putting down a deposit.

CBS 8 acquired cell cell phone video clip of a confrontation in May, involving a University Space landlord and an SDSU pupil.

The scholar, Josh Montalto, was demanding funds again immediately after finding he had rented an unpermitted garage device in January, located in the 4100 block of Campanile Travel.

In an interview with CBS 8, Montalto, 24, admitted he was naïve when he put down a deposit for the device at the landlord’s office environment two blocks south of the SDSU campus. He signed a six-month lease, at $1,200 per thirty day period, without looking at the residence to start with.

After moving in, Montalto stated the difficulties began.

“The household was a dump. I will inform you that it was a dump,” stated Montalto.

For starters, Montalto explained, the swimming pool pump was damaged for weeks.  And, he claimed, the dwelling had a roach infestation.

“There was a ton. We experienced much more than 50 cockroaches. I can recall far more than 50,” he stated.

Montalto also remembered a sewage backup and electricity outages when it rained.

The complications have been verified by Montalto’s roommate, Nika Tsitelashvili, a international exchange student who states he also place down a deposit on the assets, sight unseen.

“At one particular issue, I was not heading to indicator a lease for the reason that this space was not on the lookout habitable for me. It was extremely unfair. But they threatened us to not give our deposit back again,” mentioned Tsitelashvili.

A couple months immediately after shifting in, Montalto mentioned, he started off coughing. He claimed the coughing got greater when left the house to travel out of point out, and resumed when he returned.

“So hard to breathe. You have to retain coughing. And it was not pleasant. It is each two or a few minutes. You hear this cough frequently at night and you won’t be able to snooze. Which is how bad it was,” Montalto explained.

A few weeks later on, a San Diego town inspector visited the home and instructed Montalto that the garage device was not permitted as a rental dwelling device. 

In actuality, the landlord experienced been supplied discover in January to “instantly cease making use of the garage as habitable area,” in accordance to the San Diego code enforcement civil recognize received by CBS 8.

That’s when Montalto’s mother, Connie Lafuente, stepped in.

“Right away, I was concerned. I spoke with him and I reported what do you sense we should really do?  And he claimed, ‘Mom, no marvel I am sensation unwell. I assume I must shift out,’” Lafuente explained.

The mother utilised her mobile phone to secretly record the confrontation in Could with the landlord, Waleed “Bill” Salameh, and his wife, Lana Kamouh.

“The city inspector said to my son, you should not be in this space because it is not permitted,” Lafuente said during the videotaped dialogue.

“We’ve currently expended $30,000 to implement for a allow,” Salameh responded, boasting the garage device was close to staying permitted by the city.

“So, your space, primarily, is just about legit at this place,” Salameh mentioned.

“But it really is not legit, right now,” Lafuente countered.


For the duration of the 10-minute confrontation, Salameh denied duty for any of Montalto’s health and fitness challenges. He also claimed Montalto experienced harmed the plumbing at the property by putting baby wipes down the rest room, which Montalto denied.

When Salameh and his wife found out they ended up getting videotaped, the pair threatened legal action.

“We are going to sue you,” Kamouh claimed at the end of the video clip.

“We are not frightened of them. We are trying to expose them so they can halt and they can be liable landlords, so they can supply a harmless space for all college students,” Lafuente reported.

CBS 8 spoke on the telephone with Kamouh and asked for an on-camera job interview. Kamouh stated she would ask her spouse about it, but the few did not reply to CBS 8’s request.

In a letter to Monalto, the landlord more alleged that Montalto threw a fraternity get together at the household, ensuing in damages and cleanup fees, so Monalto’s deposit would not be refunded.

Montalto denied possessing a fraternity get together at the home. His ask for for a hire refund also was denied.

Look at: Cell telephone video clip of landlord confrontation with SDSU student:

CBS 8 reached out to SDSU, which features pupils a manual for off-campus housing. The university responded with the following statement:

“Whilst the university does not have jurisdiction in controlling off-campus housing matters involving residents and landlords, San Diego Condition College gives a large-assortment of university student support expert services and dedicated team to guide in addressing concerns with unique learners when they report an issue. These assistance providers contain the Economic Crisis Reaction Staff (ECRT), which can present assist for any pupil who is dealing with or suffering from housing insecurity.  Additionally, SDSU’s Linked Pupils contracts with an outside the house lawful companies company to provide no cost authorized and money services to enrolled college students.”

The Town of San Diego features a search portal where past and current code enforcement conditions can be accessed by avenue handle location.