How a one-time Bay Area tech worker amassed $43,804.72 in rental debt

Just a year ago, CJ Paillant lived in a brand new apartment complex in Oakland’s Jack London Square with a rooftop terrace, a game lounge and a pool with a hot tub that he and a friend rented for nearly $5,400 a month.

But Paillant, a product manager for a Silicon Valley software company, lost his job early on in the pandemic. So did his roommate. Together, they now owe $43,804.72 in rent.

“I got stuck in my luxury apartment,” said Paillant, who stayed to avoid a fee for breaking his lease but has since moved to West Oakland. He hopes to negotiate a repayment plan with his former landlords, but

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