Well folks, it appears the city of Los Angeles under Mayor Eric Garcetti is still performing unconstitutional inspections of apartments! In this video you’ll see Bill Hooey and George (Housing Provider) explain the shenanigans of the LAHD. Then you will see the inspectors break into tenants homes with a locksmith and intimidate tenants with police officers. The tenants on this video do not want the inspectors to enter. The inspectors provide an inspection warrant which is illegal under the constitution. The tenants are getting their rights violated by the city of Los Angeles, the LAHD and mayor Eric Garcetti! Watch the video and see for yourself!
Okay everyone, we got them on video. It is about to go wild…
There is a local landlord who became tired of the LAHD harassing him for the last ten years so he went to court and won. The court ordered the LAHD to leave him alone and not show up at his properties until the next schedule SCEP inspection. The LAHD was furious they were beaten in court so they approach another judge and convinced him to sign an administrative warrant so they could force their way into all the apartment in all of his buildings.
Yes, while tenants were not home, the LAHD had a locksmith disable the locks so they could enter their apartments and then there were tenants who were home but would not open the door for the LAHD. The locksmith disabled their locks so the inspectors could easily walk in.
Apparently the LAHD believes that the US constitution does not apply to them. They have more authority than the Police or the FBI because in order to enter a home or apartment in the USA, law enforcement needs a warrant with the occupant’s name on it. The LAHD’s position is that one warrant gives them the authority to enter every unit in the building. This is insane and according to our attorneys totally illegal. The LAHD is a renegade government agency here in the City of Los Angeles that does not listen to the Mayor or the City Council. Throughout the upper management there is a culture of ant-landlordism, originally brought in by Mercedes Marquez. These people need to be weeded out, gotten rid of and hopefully end up in jail for their illegal actions.
For the longest time, we had no “hard proof” regarding the outrageous and illegal conduct of housing inspectors. Now, we have them on video breaking into apartments.
I think this is a gift from God. After you read this entire e-mail click on the link at the end of this message to view the video. I’ve been working on this video for more than a month. It is 32 minutes long and you will be glad you saw it all.
When I arrived at the apartment building to video the LAHD committing this crime, they called the LAPD to prevent me from following them with my camera. I proved to the Police Officers that I am in the media and the constitution says “freedom the press”. It does not say “if the LAHD is okay with it”.
I had been invited onto the premises by the owner. After explaining much to the LAPD, I was allowed to enter the building by the Police and then the LAHD inspectors started screaming at me that they didn’t want to appear on video. I ignored that. The time for payback has arrived. Over the next few weeks, I will doing my best to get this on the national media to show the entire country how much corruption there really is in LA. Maybe we can get the Feds to take notice??? Fun times are ahead.
Now we need to send this video around to everyone in LA. I’m going to start blasting the News Media tomorrow. For LA landlords, in a strange way, the good thing is that the LAHD is now attacking tenants and violating their rights. If we can get a substantial amount of tenants angry at the city and once their voices are heard, it will shake up the city officials because having such a large voting bloc turn against them could end their political careers. Sometimes one must fight fire with fire.
For decades local politicians knew they could violate the rights of landlords because we are less than one percent of the population whereas renters are sixty three percent. Getting elected in LA has much to do with demonizing landlords and winning over the tenants. Now we are on the road to waking up the tenants and causing them to realize that the LAHD does not respect them. This strategy might give us widespread support among tenants and give us the power we need to force city officials to get rid of the top people at the LAHD who are evil and resent anyone who worked hard to achieve any measure of financial success. I know there are people in LA who are making an effort to improve relations between lanldlords and the LAHD. I believe that evil is never satisfied. You don’t make peace with it, you destroy it. You fight it head on.
Save the link below, post it everywhere you can, send it to everyone you know in Los Angeles and send it to elected officials whose e-mail addresses you have. Imagine if the Mayor and the entire LA City Council started receiving this link a few hundred times. If we create a huge outcry, we will see some major changes.
Now it is time to do your part. Get in touch with your inner warrior and go for it.
Here is a short update from each of the two law firms that are working with us who are filing lawsuits against the LAHD / City of Los Angeles on behalf of landlord rights.
From Law Firm #1 – 09/26/14
Status of Case #1:
Got GM and RAC decision thrown out in Court. Got sent back to Housing for new hearing. While on way back, got out of REAP. Housing now doesn’t know what to do. We want our money and rents back. Housing is stalling. Will probably be back in court soon.
Status of Case #2:
Got GM and RAC decsion thown out in Court. Got sent back to Housing for new hearing. GM and RAC put property back in REAP. In response we set a new court date in November to enforce Court order. Probably will be lots of fireworks.
Both of above cases attack hearing officer making decisions that violate the Court requirements of specificity. The Hearing examiner decisions are simply boilerplate “you are in violation” without any specifics.
An area that is rapidly developing into a major fight: The Health Dept refuses to let us videotape their inspections. Pull out a video camera and health will leave your property. Past videotapes have shown that the health inspectors are grossly incompetent. Several showdowns are coming up in Court with the City and County. The law is on our side, because we are allowed to videotape police already.
Law Firm #2 – 09/26/14
Here is the update on the REAP and SCEP lawsuits.
The REAP lawsuit is three separate petitions that have been consolidated into one as per order of the court. The Fair
Housing Coalition is listed on all three petitions. The next step in that lawsuit is to bring a motion to certify the class as one
of the petitions is a class action.
The substantive merits of the case will not be litigated until after the certification issue is decided.
As far as the lawsuit that alleges that SCEP fees are unconstitutional because they are a tax that was not approved
by the voters in violation of proposition 26, the court has denied the motion to certify the class so we have filed an appeal.
We have also filed another claim to essentially start the whole process over again in case we do not win on appeal.
I will try to keep this as short as possible… Two days ago on Tuesday, nine of us, mostly members of our coalition, attended a special meeting at the Los Angeles City Hall. Also attending this meeting were two people from another landlord association (supporting us) and three attorneys who are either landlords themselves or represent landlords in legal matters.
The meeting was held at the offices of the Los Angeles City Council man who is the Chairman of the Housing Committee. The Assistant General Manager of the LAHD who is the head of code enforcement and the administrator who oversees REAP also attended. They had been ordered there by the Council Man. I believe these two LAHD bosses are big time landlord haters.
For the last several years, the four top people at the LAHD have been the ones who created and enforced an anti-landlord agenda at this city department. I had met with two of them about two years ago at their offices and they basically told me that they could do whatever they wanted and LA landlords would have to “live with it”.
Now they were meeting with us again at the offices of a council member who happens to be landlord himself in LA. The meeting went on for about an hour and it was not a “love fest”. These two top administrators who have gotten away for years misleading the housing committee (which is composed of five members of the LA City Council) felt the heat. When they first came into the room before the meeting started, they wanted to eject all attorneys from the room. We overcame that request and the attorneys sat through the meeting and got to speak.
I made it clear to them that we need to make several changes the municipal code. The first change we want is to change the law so that when an inspector enters an apartment during a SCEP inspection or at any other time, if the inspector sees a code violation that was cause by the tenants such a damage to the inside of the apartment, the inspector should have the authority to cite the tenant. At this time, landlords get cited when tenants do damage. This is discrimination and it needs to stop.
I told them that we are pushing to have our requests for changes in the law, to be put on the agenda so that it can be approved in committee and then by the full city council.
It was obvious to me that the assistant general manger was not thrilled with my idea but he agreed not to lobby against it. I could tell he was uncomfortable because he was attending a meeting put together by a council member who believes in fairness for landlords. It took us four and a half years to get enough fair-minded people elected to the LA City Council in order to have the votes we need to change the unfair laws that affect us all. Now, we must keep pushing so these matters get on the agenda and get voted on.
When they do get on the agenda for a committee and then a council vote, we will need as many landlords as possible to show up in large numbers, as a united front, so these things get approved.
At our upcoming meetings, I will go over what happened at the meeting in great detail. You will want to hear this. If you are not a member of our coalition and you want to know more, you should join our group and attend our meetings.
Thank you for your support.
Rent Adjustment Commission nominees Betsy Handler and Allyne Winderman violate City Charter
The Rent Adjustment Commission is the so-called oversight board of the LAHD. According to the City Charter RAC Regulations 101.01A:
Beyond its role in formulating policies and rules, the Commission has a civic responsibility to foster a climate of better understanding between landlords and tenants, and not to polarize these two important segments of the City. The Commission therefore encourages open communication between landlords and tenants. A sense of openness and cooperation between landlords and tenants can reduce tensions that might otherwise arise.
Members of the RAC are nominated by the mayor and voted in by the City Council. They can be neither Landlords nor Tenants. Recently, outgoing mayor Villaraigosa has nominated two interesting people to the Rent Adjustment Commission which also happens to be the Rent Appeals Board. This is important because the Rent Appeals Board allows Landlords to fight unfair decisions from the LAHD by a supposedly unbiased board.
Betsy Handler and Allyne Winderman are both extremely biased tenant activists that were nominated by the mayor to serve on the RAC. They are technically neither Landlords nor Tenants but they violate the spirit of the RAC Regulations.
As an Appeals Hearing Board, the RAC has a special role in providing a final administrative avenue of review to parties who are aggrieved by a determination by the General Manager or his or her delegate. It is the policy of the RAC that appeals be conducted fairly and impartially. (RAC 101.01B)
Let’s take a look the supposed impartial nominees: Betsy Handler and Allyne Winderman.
Betsy Handler shown in the picture below to the right giving a check to a tenant she received by suing a Property Owner.
She was Director of Legal Services for the Inner City Law Center. The Inner City Law Center’s modus operandi is to find a building, which is usually composed of many small units with large immigrant families. She has her cronies go to the building and then tells the tenants they can be rich and make a lot of money if they take part in a class action lawsuit against the landlord. Betsy Handler then tells the tenants that they need proof so she “teaches” them how to live in dirtier conditions, break things in the apartment, leave trash so vermin and insects can come. Then she teaches them how to call the LAHD and complain about “housing violations” or call the Health Department to complain about “health violations” which are not caused by the Landlord at all. The LAHD and Health Department than gang up on the Landlord and put them in REAP and task force. In some cases, Landlords are prosecuted criminally. And on top of that Betsy Handler files a class action lawsuit. The Property Owner is hit with a triple whammy. Their rental income is confiscated by the City 100% through REAP. They are prosecuted criminally. And then hit with a gigantic lawsuit that will take Hundreds of Thousands of dollars to defend. Very few Property Owners are sophisticated enough to survive this onslaught so what usually happens is a huge settlement to Inner City Law Center and a few dollars for the tenants. Or the building is confiscated through REAP and the owner goes into foreclosure at which time a city related non-profit (ie Restore Neighborhoods LA) purchases the property for pennies on the dollar and it turns into “affordable housing”.
Betsy Handler will now serve on the board that decides if Property Owners go into REAP. Do you think she will be fair or she will serve the interests and kickbacks of her old position and help her friends and cronies out?
Our next nominee is: Allyne Winderman – ex-director of Rent Stabilization and Housing in the City of West Hollywood. Shown Below.
In case people don’t know. West Hollywood has the most severe Rent Controls in the United States and for the past 10 years the allowable Rent Increase has hovered below 1% per year. How is that fair return on investment. How will she be impartial and fair on the RAC board and give Landlords a fair shot. Answer: She won’t obviously.
These two nominees were recently brought for the Housing Committee. Several Fair Housing Coalition Members were in attendance and spoke out against voting these nominees in. Our concerns were heard and one Councilmember in particular responded: Richard Alarcon.
He goes on the record as saying that the Rent Adjustment Commission is designed solely for the Tenants and that he doesn’t understand why Landlords even showed up for the nominee hearing. He obviously doesn’t know the LA City Charter as RAC 101.01A-B clearly state that the RAC is intended to foster both landlord and tenant harmony. Richard Alarcon seemed angry and defiant as he also stated that the mayor chooses the nominee and the City Council basically rubberstamps the nominee. The City Council is a puppet board of an outgoing Mayor?
It is important we act against these two nominees when they go for a full council vote. Please call all your City Councilmembers and tell them we don’t want Betsy Handler or Allyne Winderman. They are biased, tenant activists that have no place on an impartial review board!
Ed Reyes, District 1 (213) 473-7001 Councilmember.Reyes@lacity.org
Paul Krekorian, District 2 (213) 473-7002 Councilmember.Krekorian@lacity.org
Dennis Zine, District 3 (213) 473-7003 Councilmember.Zine@lacity.org
Tom LaBonge, District 4 (213) 473-7004 Councilmember.Labonge@lacity.org
Paul Koretz, District 5 (213) 473-7005 email@example.com
Tony Cardenas, District 6 (213) 473-7006 Councilmember.Cardenas@lacity.org
Richard Alarcon, District 7 (213) 473-7007 Councilmember.Alarcon@lacity.org
Bernard Parks, District 8 (213) 473-7008 Councilmember.Parks@lacity.org
Jan Perry, District 9 (213) 473-7009 Councilmember.Perry@lacity.org
Herb Wesson, District 10 (213) 473-7010 Councilmember.Wesson@lacity.org
Bill Rosendahl, District 11 (213) 473-7011 Councilmember.Rosendahl@lacity.org
Mitchell Englander, District 12 (213) 473-7012 Councilmember.Englander@lacity.org
Eric Garcetti, District 13 213) 473-7013 Councilmember.Garcetti@lacity.org
Jose Huizar, District 14 (213) 473-7014 Councilmember.Huizar@lacity.org
Joe Buscaino, District 15 (213) 473-7015 Councilmember.Buscanio@lacity.org
We are having a landlord meeting this coming Wednesday night.
February 6, 2013 at 7 PM
Location: 658 S. Venice Blvd.
Venice, CA 90291
This location is ½ block east of Abbott Kinney on the south side.
It is in the community room of a Extra Space Storage Company.
Please attend this meeting if you are able to do so.
This February is a very important month for LA landlords. The City elections are taking place in March and we must reach out to as many candidates as possible to impress upon them that we are not to be taken lightly; that landlords deserve justice and equality in Los Angeles. Now is the time to interact with them, before they are elected. Seven council seats will be filled, plus a new Mayor and City Attorney. If the right people are elected, local landlords could get the relief that is long overdue.
We now have 210 members. We are growing slowly but at least we are attracting quality landlords who want to be
involved and fight back against the injustice that is the standard policy of the LAHD toward housing providers.
The Fair Housing Coalition
Los Angeles, CA 90046
“Equality Under The Law For Landlords And Renters”
In the City of Los Angeles, the laws on the books, the municipal codes of the LAHD and the practices of the Los Angeles Housing Department discriminate against housing providers. We believe in equality under the law for both landlords and renters.
Here are the reforms that we are seeking at this time.
#1 – No REAP Rent Discounts.
Explanation: When a building is placed in REAP renters should not be offered or given any form of rent discount. If a renter decides to pay his/her rent to the LAHD, they may do so but only after being presented with a written promise and evidence that doing so will result in more timely repairs to the residence, a copy of which might also be sent to the landlord. No rent discount is to be offered by the LAHD in order to bribe the tenant.
Explanation… When a renter receives a fifty percent rent discount, it encourages that tenant to do what they can to keep the building in REAP and deprives the landlord of funds to correct needed repairs. Imagine how exciting it is for low-income wage earners, especially those with several children to feed, to receive a fifty percent rent reduction. This inspires renters to tamper with smoke detectors and do other damage to the property to keep rent low and it also becomes very difficult for landlord to get out of REAP. This destroys relationships of trust between landlords and renters because it invites intense greed into the equation.
Even an honest decent tenant in many cases can be corrupted when the LAHD offers them a fifty percent rent discount. Giving REAP rent discounts sets off a very bad domino effect between landlords and renters. In the end, nothing good comes out of it.
#2 – All REAP hearings are to be held in a court of law and with a real judge hearing the case. It is a denial of due process of law for an employee of the LAHD to put on a robe, pretend to be a judge and place a property in REAP. This process, as it is now, is a civil rights violation that must be put to an end immediately.
#3 – Destructive Tenants Must Be Cited.
Explanation: When a tenant does damage to the inside of his/her apartment, by admitting to having done the damage to the apartment building or when there is proof that a tenant has created the damage, housing inspectors should cite and fine the tenant. A copy of this report should be made available to the landlord within seven days should the landlord desire to go forward with an eviction of the destructive tenant.
#4 – Controlling Tenant Retaliation
If a landlord can prove or if there is substantial evidence that a tenant caused intentional damage to the property as retaliation, then the LAHD case against the landlord is to be denied and a report must be made by the LAHD to document what the tenant did. If the tenant committed a code violation, the tenant should be fined by the proper city agency.
#5 No citing landlords for code violations that are not de facto (by their own sole and very nature) serious health and safety issues. A code violation may not be taken as prima facie evidence of a health and safety issue.
Explanation: Since the City of Los Angeles does not allow landlords to evict for overcrowding, in rental units where it is obvious that there are too many people living in an apartment, that apartment should be issued a wavier and the landlord should not be cited for minor code violations. The only code violations that a landlord may be cited for is something that is a serious health and safety issue, no cosmetic issues.
#6 – Tenants Must Notify The Landlord First When A Repair Is Needed
Explanation: Tenants are to fill out a LAHD repair form and serve the landlord before they may file a complaint with the LAHD. Tenants must prove they gave the landlord the notice and the opportunity to make repairs to the unit. If they fail to do this, then the complaint will be closed.
#7 – A New Department To Help Landlords Comply.
There should be a department set up with inspectors who are landlord friendly. After a landlord has been cited for code violations, the landlord should be able to call a phone number and talk with inspectors who have been trained to be landlord friendly, to work in a spirit of cooperation with landlords. These inspectors will come out to the property, to explain to the landlord what is needed to fix the code violations. These inspectors will not cite landlords and this service should be free considering how much we pay for SCEP inspections.
#8 – No Outreach Contractors For Renters Or Landlords
Explanation: After an inspector has come out to a property and all the code violations have been fixed, there is no need for a 2nd inspection by a renter’s activist group. Having a second inspection implies that the City of Los Angeles believes that their own housing inspectors lack the knowledge to make a final determination if the property is now up to code. If this is the case, then the City should fire these inspectors and hire inspectors with a background in construction or engineering. If the city hires outreach contractors for landlords, they really can’t do much other than advise landlords how to comply. They can’t fight against the city because they are being paid by the city. This is a waste of taxpayer’s money.
#9 – Create An Oversight Committee Composed of Three Landlords And Three Renters
Explanation: If any landlord or renter in the City of Los Angeles has a problem with a specific municipal code or a specific policy of the LAHD, they can speak before this committee to solve the problem and suggest changes. Then the committee can vote on the matter. If they end up in a deadlock and cannot agree, a retired judge would come in and cast the deciding vote.
#10 – Capital Improvement Rent Increase Is Raised From $55 to $200.
Explanation: Older buildings that are under rent control require more maintenance because of their age and in many cases, apartments are over-crowded. If the LAHD comes along and gives the owner a long list of repairs they want the owner to do and if the tenants in any apartment are paying less than seventy five percent of fair market value rent, the owner should be allowed to raise the rent two hundred dollars after the repairs have been made. To make it easier for the tenants, the rent could be raised one hundred dollars and then twelve months later, the rent would be raised the other one hundred dollars.
#11– Tenants Should Be Allowed To Opt Out Of SCEP.
Explanation: If a tenant feels that his/her landlord is doing a good maintaining the property, the tenant can fill out a form, give it to his/her landlord and then the landlord turns it in to the LAHD. So, the next time the building is due for a SCEP inspection, those tenants who have opted out of SCEP, will be assured that their apartments will not be inspected and fees will not be collected. If all the tenants in a building agree to opt out of SCEP, then the housing inspector will be limited to inspecting the outside of the building and the walkways within the building.
#12 – Close Unfair Eviction Loopholes
Explanation: When a landlord starts an eviction action against a tenant for non-payment of rent, the law unfairly allows tenants to file numerous appeals and motions to delay the court date. On top of that, there are predatory law firms that will represent the non-rent paying tenant and ask for a jury trial as a mean to extract eight to ten thousand dollars from a landlord in order to settle the case. Why should a landlord be force to pay a tenant who is not paying their rent, so much money just to get the tenant to move out? These predatory law firms are nothing more than gangsters. They are criminals using a loophole in the law to steal money from landlords. The law should allow only one delay for the eviction court trail and a single judge should decide the case.
#13 – Tenant Move Out Fees Should Be Limited To $3,000
Because of unfair tenant move-out laws, a landlord may have to pay a renter up to $18,000 to move out. This is outrageous considering that many renters are living in rent control buildings and they are paying rent, which is less than fifty-percent of fair market value. The move-out fee should be based on the tenant’s actual costs, so if a tenant spends $1,500 on a mover and it took three days off from their job the tenant should be entitled to those costs alone and not $18,000. In special hardship cases, determined by a court, a landlord could be required to pay the first month’s rent of the tenant’s next apartment up to $1,500.
For those apartments regulated by rent control where the tenant is paying less than seventy five percent of fair market value rent, the move out fee should be capped at four months rent.
It is insane and immoral for a tenant who was paying low rent for several years, to end up receiving two to five years rent returned to him/her as their move out fee. If a tenant had such low rent for so several years, it was the tenant’s obligation to put some of the savings in the bank and maybe buy their own home. The way landlords are being forced to subsidize tenants in Los Angeles is evil and borders on socialism.
#14 – Police Reports
There are criminals who bring crime and violence into an apartment building. This puts other tenants at risk. If the LAPD has to visit an apartment for any type of violation of the law, the landlord should be notified by the LAPD. A copy of the report should be made available to the landlord within fourteen days. Most landlords would not mind paying a small fee for a copy of that report.
Since more Police Officers are hurt or killed when responding to calls of domestic disturbances than any other type of request for Police service; it would be a good thing for the Police, the landlord and the other tenants in the building, for the landlord to be able to obtain a copy of the Police report. This could help the landlord evict criminal tenants.
#15 – All LAHD Late Fees Must Be Limited To A Three Percent Fine.
At this time, if a landlord is just one day late in paying for an inspection by a LAHD inspector or in registering his/her units, the landlord is hit with a three hundred percent late fee. This is usury; it is nothing more than government approved racketeering. If a private party wrote a contract concerning a loan or payment for service and it contain such an outrageous late fee, no court of law would allow it to be enforced, if there were a dispute between the two parties and the matter ended up in court. It is wrong for a government agency to charge late fees that are comparable to organized crime.
Bill Hooey (323) 397-8740
Barbara Darwish is gathering information to launch a major lawsuit against the LAHD / City of Los Angeles. If you are a landlord who has been violated by the LAHD, you need to respond to this notice. Here is the information that Barbara needs:
ALL INCOME PROPERTY OWNERS WHO HAVE HAD THEIR PROPERTIES IN PLACED IN REAP OR CITED FOR UNAPPROVED CONSTRUCTION NEED TO GATHER THEIR PAPERWORK/DOCUMENTS AND MAIL TO BARBARA DARWISH AT:
19528 VENTURA BLVD., #184
TARZANA, CALIF. 91356
or scan and email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Gather as much documentation as you have (should be copies) and provide a brief description of the situation. It’s also an EXCELLENT idea if you have lost any paperwork to go to the nearest LAHD Office and obtain a “Certified Copy” of your file by completing a form called “RECORDS REQUEST FORM” On this form there is a section which states “provide a description providing the APN or Property address.” So, you will write “THE DATE IN WHICH YOUR PROBLEMS FIRST BEGAN TO THE DATE IN WHICH IT ENDED. IF IT HAS NOT ENDED SIMPLY WRITE TO TODAY’S DATE. MAKE SURE YOU STATE THAT YOU WANT THESE DOCUMENTS CERTIFIED.
Indicate to all that there is going to be a lawsuit filed and the atty. is requesting all of these items. This is for fact finding. If Erin Brockovich prevailed so will we.
We are not going to be eating “dog shit” much longer.
Our City of Los Angeles is suffering and things are getting worse. The malady was caused by previous City Councils creating laws that are driving jobs out of LA. Our present City Council can remedy that situation. Employers are leaving the City of Los Angeles because of our extremely unfriendly local business climate. Two things that are truly hurting LA’s image are REAP and SCEP. The Los Angeles Housing Department is using these to drive landlords out of business. REAP and SCEP create a further domino effect. The end result is that more poor people are becoming homeless.
Originally REAP was designed to punish slumlords, especially those who owned older buildings with many sub-standard units. In reality REAP and SCEP have done much more damage than good. Now is the time to repeal these two damaging laws.
The LAHD is like a young tiger that has just come of age and savored its first taste of blood. It wants more. The LAHD, in the absence of those slumlords, because most of them have gone out of business, has trained its focus upon decent landlords who own older properties that are under rent control. The City of Los Angeles bears most of the blame because many rent-controlled units generate such little income that the landlord doesn’t have the flow of cash to fix every cosmetic problem as soon as it appears. I know of many landlords who are collecting $400 or less for a one-bedroom apartment. In some areas that amount is about one third of fair market value. This oppressive atmosphere, created by the City of Los Angeles, is targeted against our housing providers.
The LAHD routinely enters and cites landlords for the most minor code violations, violations that are neither health nor habitability issues. Then it puts the building into REAP and often drives the landlord out of business. The reality is that older apartment buildings, especially those built before October 1, 1978, require more monthly maintenance than do newer buildings. But those same landlords, because of unfair rent-control laws, have the lowest cash flow.
Another problem caused by the City of Los Angeles is the difficulty landlords have in evicting tenants for over-crowding. In 2006, the Los Angeles City Council repealed a law that limited how many people per square foot could reside in an apartment. Now we have the situation where large families live in small apartments citywide. If there are six people living in a small one-bedroom apartment, that unit will experience excessive “wear and tear.” That is not the landlord’s fault. It is a tradition in many cultures that even the poorest families have a great number of children.
The end result is that there are thousands of landlords who own older apartment buildings and who are under attack by the LAHD. These buildings are over-crowded; they generate very little cash flow and require constant above average maintenance. From the LAHD’s point of view, everything is the landlord’s fault. Even when tenants admit to a housing inspector that they have done damage to the property, they are seldom cited. It is the landlord who is cited because, in the eyes of the LAHD, he/she is the enemy.
In LA, a landlord’s civil rights mean almost nothing. The managers of the LAHD create new policies on a whim and begin to enforce these policies as if they were part of the municipal code. This is illegal. These managers are creating a massive liability for our city.
Why are landlords being punished twice for the same code violation? A landlord is first punished when his/her building is put into REAP. The tenants are given a fifty percent rent deduction and they start paying that rent directly to the LAHD. This puts the landlord in a “Catch-22” position. He/she does not have the income to pay the mortgage, insurance, taxes or fix the code violations. This, in itself, is overly cruel and unusual punishment. The second punishment comes at the same time. While the LAHD has seized the landlord’s rent, the LAHD will ask the LA City Attorney’s Office to prosecute the landlord in criminal court. Now the court gets into the act to punish the landlord once again with more costs and fines. The landlord is unjustly under siege. First, the LAHD deprives the landlord of his/her cash flow; second, the City Attorney prosecutes the landlord for not making the repairs. How can any landlord make improvements to a property without the funds to pay for them?
Most of the landlords in this situation are small “mom and pop” housing providers. The City of Los Angeles is bankrupting many of the very people it should be helping: the elderly and minorities. Most “mom and pop” landlords have worked hard all their lives. They have contributed to our community and want some independence when they retire. The LAHD is robbing them of their livelihoods.
The truth is becoming more apparent. When we trace ownership of the thousands of properties that have been put in REAP over the years, where the landlords have lost their buildings in foreclosure, from what we have been told, we will discover that our City or a City/non-profit partnership has become the new owner. This smells like organized crime to any thinking person.
Why do so many housing inspectors have a “storm-trooper” personality? If you took a survey, you would find that the majority of LA landlords have had terrible experiences with housing inspectors. They talk to the landlord as if he/she is a criminal. Yet tenants, even those who admit to damaging their own apartments, are treated with warm smiles. Who orders the housing inspectors not to cite tenants when those same tenants freely admit to having removed smoke detectors and caused other damages?
If a landlord is not maintaining his/her building properly, to habitability and health standards, of course he/she should be cited. And if the landlord refuses to do the right thing, then he/she should be prosecuted in the courts. Those LAHD general manager hearings, held at the offices of the LAHD, are nothing more than theater: a sham kangaroo court. The presiding manager is draped in a robe, mimicking the appearance of a judge, but is not a real judge. The LAHD creates the illusion of due process. If murderers are entitled to their day in court, why are landlords in LA being denied the due process guaranteed to all of us?
This is the current situation in Los Angeles:
- Unfair rent-control laws deprive landlords of the money they need to properly maintain their buildings.
- Housing Inspectors cite landlords for minor issues and rarely cite tenants, even when tenants admit to having damaged the landlord’s property.
- Property and rents are being expropriated from landlords without due process.
- LAHD has created a hostile culture where landlords are prejudged to be the enemy and tenants are always assumed to be the victims.
Of course, there are good and bad landlords, just as there are good and bad renters. The law needs to be fair to both and treat each equally. To put matters in real world perspective, when it comes to crime in LA, what proportion is being caused by landlords? What proportion is being caused by tenants?
Our City’s image is being tarnished. Anyone who has ever studied sales knows that in a year a happy customer will praise a business where he or she got a good deal to four or five other persons. On the other hand an unhappy customer will disparage a business that ripped them off to at least one hundred other people. The senses of injustice and anger are very powerful driving forces. Consequently, LA is considered America’s largest most business unfriendly city. Eliminating REAP and SCEP will go a long way towards improving our city’s image. Retaining REAP and SCEP will continue to erode our city’s reputation.
The City of Los Angeles is ripping off our landlords. Many landlords own other businesses as well and the word is spreading about the “Un-American” agenda of the LAHD. Until the City of Los Angeles starts treating landlords fairly, word will continue to spread that LA is a highly corrupt city where no respectable businessman should invest. Landlords and business owners are fleeing LA in unprecedented numbers.
This must stop. To stop it we are asking for your vote to repeal both REAP and SCEP. These two distorted practices are doing exponentially much more harm than good. Most tenants in Los Angeles are intelligent. They do know who to call if their landlord is not making appropriate proper repairs. SCEP is an unnecessary and predatory institution. It is an invasion of our citizens’ privacy. We do not need it in Los Angeles.
Most renters, you will find, do not want housing inspectors roaming through their homes. It is an invasion of their privacy. What will come next? Will the LAHD have the LAPD going door to door to inspect houses and apartments in the hopes that they will find something illegal? We are asking for your help because you are a member of our Los Angeles City Council. We are asking for your vote to get rid of REAP and SCEP. These institutions make our City government look mean and vicious.
The LAHD has contempt for the law. A member of our coalition, Barbara Darwish, sued the LAHD and won her case in Superior Court. The judgment said that LAHD couldn’t use the “ministerial provisions” of the RSO to enforce building codes, as there were “enforcement provisions” codes in the LAMC. Ministerial provisions include charging fees. The LAHD and LADBS tried to use an internal memo between the general managers to claim that each department could enforce the others’ codes. General managers do not have the authority to make law. When Ms. Darwish presented this court judgment to the Office of the LAHD she was told that the LAHD had no intention of complying with the judge’s ruling. This speaks volumes about their attitudes. LAHD is building an evil empire for itself. LAHD is out of control. LAHD must be stopped.
We would like to have a private meeting with you. Once we have ten Council Members who join with us in fostering a more equitable community in Los Angeles, the matter should be brought to the floor for a vote.
Fair Housing Coalition