H-SANTA MARIA

Feb 18, 2011 9:03 PM by Ariel Wesler

Renters upset about living conditions at Budget Inn

Some renters in Santa Maria say they are fed up with poor living conditions at a local motel. The Budget Inn operates as a motel, but also rents out rooms by the week for permanent housing.

One of the residents says nearly half of the rooms are rented to long-term tenants. Many of them have complained about bed bugs, mold, and broken heaters.

Bedbugs are just the beginning for people living at the Budget Inn in Santa Maria.

"Most of the people don't have adequate heating or window locks. We've all got mold growing," said Jennifer Wolfe

She has lived there with her three kids since November and used to be a housekeeper at the motel. She sent us some pictures documenting the horrid conditions. They include wood rott, exposed pipes and broken heaters.

"One room in particular has absolutely no heater in the area that it's supposed to be," Wolfe said.

Code Compliance officers tell us they have investigated the Budget Inn 14 times for violations since 1993.

"I think it was February of last year there was a problem and they ended up having to tent and fumigate the entire building," said Officer Celia Lennon.

We tried contacting the owner ourselves, but never heard back. Code compliance assures tenants they are looking into all the complaints.

"The bed bugs, any sub-standard housing conditions, and a lack of smoke detectors," Lennon said.

Wolfe can't leave because of her bad credit. She says while it's the cheapest place in town, it's not what she signed up for.

"I want the owner to accept responsibility for this and come in here and fix these things," Wolfe said. "We get to deal with the bedbugs. They don't."

The Santa Barbara County Health Department has already sent a letter to the hotel addressed to the owner, talking about the bed bugs. It says if the motel does not take care of the problem, it will be charged for a mandatory health inspection.

Wolfe says some tenants have not come forward with complaints, fearing they will be evicted.

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