COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho — Kahl Chirico's rent on Saturday is $1,000 a month. On Sunday, it's going up to $3,000, as reported by KREM 2 news partner the Coeur d'Alene/Post Falls Press.
The cause and effect of rent tripling depends upon whom you ask.
Chirico, a former Marine now working as a machinist, rents a two-bedroom, one-bath apartment on Laurel Avenue in Coeur d'Alene with his daughter, Hannah, 17.
For the past four years, Hometown Property Management has offered annual lease renewals with a modest increase in rent.
However, Chirico was notified in advance that they would not be renewing his agreement, and that the lease would terminate on July 31.
Upset by the non-renewal, Chirico contacted management to see if a short-term lease could be accommodated. His daughter's knee surgery on July 6 complicated Chirico's situation.
Chirico told The Press he directly asked property managers why they would not renew the lease.
"They said it was up to the landlord and it was none of my business," Chirico said.
Unwilling to move while his daughter recovers from surgery, Chirico asked for a short-term lease. He said she's unable to bear any weight on the knee and that there's a high risk for re-injury.
Chirico believes the outrageous rent increase and refusal to renew his lease is a direct response to maintenance complaints he's made.
Last Sept. 11, Chirico discovered a leak above his shower and asked that it be fixed. Numerous requests were made, Chirico said. Yet when he and Hannah returned from her surgery, the shower was still not operable.
"I texted them saying that if her knee gets infected I'm holding them responsible," he said. “But you can’t do this because we requested maintenance; you can’t retaliate like that.”
During a phone interview with The Press, Jonathan Frantz, attorney for Hometown Property Management, said Chirico's perspective isn’t accurate.
"Hometown Property Management made every effort to complete repairs," he said. "Things can get sticky when trying to set up repairs between a tenant and contractors."
Frantz said the rent increase has nothing to do with maintenance requests.
He said the owners of the property have decided to remodel the unit; it must be vacant for the construction.
Frantz also said that Chirico has known for a year — dating back to when he didn't receive a new annual lease — that his lease expires July 31. Frantz said the issue is that Chirico simply refuses to leave.
“Multiple times, Kahl flat out said he wouldn’t leave,” Frantz said. “He was notified in May that the lease wouldn’t renew, which is when these problems came out.”
“Absolutely I refused to leave,” Chirico said. “My child’s leg is hurt and all of my requests have gone unnoticed.”
In response to Chirico’s request to stay temporarily, Hometown Property Management offered a month-to-month rate of $3,000.
Frantz said that rental rate wasn't chosen out of spite or malice.
“It is in the contract,” he said. “If you hold over on your lease, damages are affixed. It is stated in his contract that the hold-over rate is three times the monthly rent.”
Frantz said Hometown Property Management has remodeling scheduled and new tenants in line. The company is held liable when it can't follow through on commitments, he added.
“If I pay that rent,” Chirico said, “it will leave me $400 to pay for everything else my daughter and I need.”
He is currently searching for a new place. “I’ve had zero luck, we have no place to go,” Chirico said.
“It’s not really about the property to me,” he said. “It’s about my daughter having a safe place to heal.”
Idaho code 55-307 states that there are no limits to how often or how high a tenant's rent can be increased, unless stated in a previous contract.