The Isla Vista Tenants Union held its first open house informational meeting of 2005 yesterday on Tuesday, opening its doors to local residents who have housing questions.

Approximately a dozen people attended the meeting, which was held at the tenants union’s office at 970 Embarcadero del Mar. Both students and Isla Vista residents attended to discuss evictions, housing inspections, deposits and housing contracts.

Rebecca Prather, the new head coordinator for the tenants union, introduced herself at the meeting and said it is important that the organization resume its work fighting for the rights of local residents.

“Anyone in Isla Vista is a member of the Isla Vista Tenants Union, whether you are a student or have a family,” Prather said.

The union, which is funded through Associated Students, was created five years ago by a group of 30 students after over a dozen families said they were unfairly evicted from their I.V. homes. Since then, the organization has been committed to defending the rights of local tenants, Prather said.

“Our organization is not just about tenants rights and housing, but social rights in general,” Prather said.

Some of the projects the union is currently working on include organizing an Isla Vista Community Center in Estero Park, demanding that Isla Vista have a county building inspector, and educating local residents about the I.V. Master Plan.

Prather said the organization will be holding quarterly open house sessions, like the one last Tuesday night, in order to introduce new projects and discuss the status of existing projects. In addition to the tenants union’s quarterly meetings, the organization also holds office hours Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. to answer any questions an Isla Vista resident might have.

Sophomore sociology majors Katie Zuppann and Karen Merritt attended the meeting to seek advice regarding a problem they have with their landlord.

“We just had questions about what kind of measures can be done, as far as repairs go,” Merritt said. “There is a question of what is wear and tear and what isn’t – sometimes landlords take advantage of that.”

Zuppann and Merritt live with two other girls in a house on the 6700 block of Sabado Tarde Road. Their landlord recently charged them $1,500 for repairs after the toilet in their house overflowed, causing damage to the surrounding carpet, Zuppann said.

“The amount she is charging us is way more than the cost of the repair,” Zuppann said.

The tenants union’s coordinators advised the girls to have a meeting with the rest of their house and then ask their landlord to explain the exact costs of repair.