San Mateo has rejected an appeal by the property owner of 1409 Beacon Ave. to not pay temporary relocation costs to the city for the displacement of two tenants due to substandard living conditions and code violations.

The property owner of the single-family residence, Ahmad Dawoud, was responsible for addressing issues of lack of hot water at the property, which forced the two tenants to relocate temporarily, according to a city report. Other violations included unsafe use of power cords and outlets and wall alterations to the garage. The tenants first notified the city of problems with hot water Aug. 12, and the city gave Dawoud the deadline of Aug. 20 to turn on the hot water, which he did not do, according to the city.

City officials decided it gave the property owner enough time to address the issue, and he did not correct the problems in the abatement period, forcing the city to order the property vacated. The city moved the two tenants to a Best Western Coyote Point Inn in San Mateo. Over the next month, the city reached out to Dawoud several times before the city determined the issue was resolved in September. When he fixed the problem, the tenants were able to return. Dawoud is responsible for paying the city $7,248 for the tenants’ temporary relocation and other associated costs to the city for fixing the problem. He said he was not responsible for reimbursing the city for relocation costs, leading to the appeal on Jan. 4 at the San Mateo City Council meeting.

Dawoud, who attended the meeting via Zoom, provided public comment for his appeal. He said he sent the tenant a notice in December to leave the property because he wanted to sell it, and he provided other examples of fixing the property after requests from the tenant. He said the tenant who leased the property had stopped paying rent and should be a factor in the city’s decision.

“I don’t think it’s fair for me to pay for somebody that shouldn’t be there,” said Dawoud.

Dawoud also claimed he did not give the authorization to sublease the property.

The master tenant, Emad Alshaer, spoke at the meeting and said email communications between the two shows he is telling the truth and that subleasing was authorized.

The City Council heard perspectives from the property owner, tenant and city staff to determine who was telling the truth.

“It seems like this is a matter of he said, she said, and it seems like there is a lot of holes all around, and it’s hard to figure out what are the facts,”  Mayor Eric Rodriguez said.

Councilwoman Amourence Lee said based on all the evidence of communications available for the council, she believed the landlord was fully aware and in agreement to sublease.

“I am in favor of siding with the tenant,” Lee said.

After hearing information from city staff about the issue, the San Mateo City Council voted to deny the appeal 4-0, with Councilman Rick Bonilla absent from the meeting. San Mateo City Attorney Shawn Mason will draft a written opinion to approve the rejection at the City Council’s next meeting.

Councilwoman Diane Papan said, “It doesn’t take a month to fix a water heater. For me, the timing just isn’t adding up to the purported facts. I’m OK with denying the appeal and letting us seek reimbursement of the tenant costs. It just doesn’t add up to the testimony that we received.”

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