BUSINESS
06/26/2012 06:34 pm ET

John Callaghan, L.A. Landlord, Divided A Triplex Into 44 Apartments, Prosecutors Say

Sure, people put up walls in apartments to turn one-bedroom units into two-bedroom units.

In Los Angeles, one landlord's taken this thrifty tactic to an uncomfortable, illegal, dangerous and, seemingly, insane place: Turning three apartments into 44 rented rooms.

The L.A. Times reports that John Callaghan is facing criminal charges for stuffing renters into the 44 "apartments," where unsurprisingly the wiring has been deemed faulty and the units lack smoke detectors. (h/t the Consumerist). Callaghan is facing fines and jail time if found guilty. The L.A. Times was not able to reach him for comment.

It may seem surprising that tenants would pay to live in such unfortunate conditions, but with many pushed out of the home buying market, rents are skyrocketing in L.A. and everywhere else across the country -- meaning that tenants are eager to get their hands on whatever space they can. The average monthly rent for apartments in the U.S. hit $1,008 in the first quarter of this year, breaking the record high set in the third quarter of 2008, according to a separate L.A. Times report.

University of Southern California’s real estate center predicts that rents in Los Angeles County will see a 10 percent boost in the next two years, according to the L.A. Times.

In Washington, D.C., the rental market has gotten so tight that many have opted to forgo refrigerators, stoves and other items simply to find an affordable space in a good location, according to expressnightout.com.

But it’s low-income renters that have suffered from the most from the recent renting boom. As more Americans are driven out of their homes and into the rental market by foreclosures, poorer Americans who have typically relied on the rental market are finding it “incredibly difficult” to afford rental housing, Megan Bolton, a senior research analyst at the National Low Income Housing Coalition told The Huffington Post in March.

That’s because to afford to rent a typical two-bedroom apartment a worker would have to be making $18.25 per hour, according to the organization.

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