Blast from the Past: Reddy Realty

23:50 Mon 14 Mar 2011. Updated: 00:51 15 Mar 2011
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From 1999–2000 I lived in a Berkeley apartment, and was recently reminded that it was rented from a criminal sex offender who would ultimately plead guilty to, among other things, the transportation of minors for illegal sexual activity.

The managing company was Reddy Realty, who at the time were estimated to own about 60% of the rental properties in Berkeley; the company belonged to Lakireddy Bali Reddy, who along with other members of the family was apparently involved in sex trafficking, indentured servitude, and suspicious deaths; his Wikipedia page and these Chronicle stories cover it fairly well.

What reminded me of the case was coming across[*] a letter Reddy Realty sent out to tenants when the scandal broke, the essential message of which was “keep paying your rent”:

February 14, 2000

Prasad Lakireddy

To: All Valued Tenants
Re: Our Business and Management Assurance
As you may be already aware, we are going through family legal problems.
It concerns my father, Mr. L.B.Reddy. It is his personal affair.

[In other words: nothing to do with us, your landlords. Keep sending those rent checks in.]

Please be advised that it is strictly a family matter and will not affect our day-to-day operations of our business or property management

[Like we said: the rent. It still comes due.]

The Business Manager is me: Prasad Lakireddy … My uncle Jay Lakireddy is the Maintenance Coordinator, available at the Realty number for any maintenance problems.

Our staff at the Realty Office will courteously assist you in matters relating to our daily business.

[Don’t even think about coming to us with any moral outrage.]

We are open during normal business hours including Saturdays. Our resident managers are also available at your service.

Our goal is to keep the properties in excellent condition and provide services in a professional manner. I urge you to bear with us and give us a fair chance to address your concerns / complaints before you take it directly to the Rent Board or City of Berkeley.

[Because the number of complaints is already embarrassing, and with this new thing, come on, it’s like kicking a guy when he’s down, so just let us know and maybe all this adverse publicity means we’ll get around to fixing your stuff in a timely manner.]

My family and I would like to thank you very much for you cooperation, patience and understanding during the difficult period that we are going through.

[Our lives, they are tough; when you think about it, we’re really the victims here.]

Once again, I hereby give you my assurance that we are here to serve and assist you in all matters of your valued tenancy.


Prasad Lakireddy

I don’t think I noticed at the time that it was dated Valentine’s Day.

In fairness, I don’t recall many problems with the unit or the landlords—except that they were extremely quick with eviction notices, even in cases where their clerical error was responsible for their thinking the rent hadn’t been paid. Given the large student population they dealt with, that does seem rather abusive. I also remember getting a lot of material from the Berkeley Rent Board with reminders about renters’ rights—material that I think was sent specifically to people renting from Reddy Realty.

At the time, I found it a quite amazing nightmare tale of globalization, with developed-world money facilitating oppression and exploitation, and the importation of said exploitation to super-liberal Berkeley—where it was apparently happening under everyone’s noses for quite awhile before a student reporter broke it open—was a reminder of how you can’t really go too far from the ugly underbelly.

[*] While scanning old documents as part of the process of throwing stuff away, which so far seems a very healthy exercise.

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