Landlord Harassment of Rent-Controlled Tenants

Illegal evictions and unlawful landlord harassment and intimidation are all too common in rent-controlled cities in California like Los Angeles, where the soaring market rate continues to rise. Los Angeles' Rent Control Stabilization Ordinance("LARSO"), like many other tenants rights laws in cities across California, shields tenants from landlord abuse by restricting the number of legal bases for landlords to evict tenants. LARSO of the Los Angeles Municipal Code("LAMC") limits landlords to fourteen(14) legal causes to evict a tenant including "at fault" evictions (8) and "no-fault" evictions(6). Landlords must provide tenants with specific relocation monies depending upon their age(62+), duration of the tenancy (greater than or equal to 3 years), and income amount and if the landlord qualifies as a "Mom & Pop Property." LAMC 1515.08.A.8. Currently(May 2019), tenant relocation monies under Los Angeles' rent control ordinance range from $20,450 to $7,900 per household.

Bottom line, if your landlord is harassing, intimidating, or otherwise interfering with the use and enjoyment of your home, and is serving you with various notices and claiming unheard of exceptions, you need to reach out and speak with a knowledgeable and experienced tenants rights attorney or lawyer versed in unlawful detainer and eviction proceedings. Your landlord's bad behavior could serve as a defense to any unlawful detainer matter(eviction) as well as the basis for damages in a tenant's rights civil suit. California law provides tenants with a multitude of actions to bring against landlords to enforce basic rights including quiet enjoyment, habitable living conditions and to be free of landlord harassment, intimidation, and other retaliatory behavior. Cal. Civ. Code 1927, 1941, 1942.2.

Landlords who flout the law through intimidation tactics the law are there to cheat tenants out of being fully compensated for the time, expense and hassle of having to relocate and find a new home (especially in a competitive in such a highly competitive space like our current housing and rental unit markets ). What drives these apartment building and other property owners is pure greed and the prospect of doubling (even tripling) rent rolls. Where a rent-controlled tenant may pay $1600 for a one bedroom, a market rate tenant could almost certainly pay $4000 for the same unit (albeit out of rent control). For tenants who have not moved from their rent-controlled apartment, duplex, or another rental unit for even ten or twenty plus years, the difference between market rate and the rent-control is staggering. If, however, a tenant is over 62, disabled or has lived there longer than ten years, a landlord cannot use the owner occupy exception to regain possession.

No matter how hard your landlord tries, do not let them convince you--in any way--that you are somehow responsible for their misfortune and financial problems. A landlord's business affairs and accounting have nothing to with your tenancy. The reduced rent you pay is a business risk that any reasonable party would understand and assume as an owner of rental properties in a rent-controlled city like Los Angeles.

Given the tremendous value of these rent-controlled apartments, condos, etc..., the local municipal laws and ordinances which implement rent control usually permit landlords to make "cash for keys" offers to buy out tenants. LAMC 151.91. The procedures required by these laws help ensure that the landlord does not unduly influence, harass and intimidate the tenant during the buyout of the rent-controlled unit and that the tenant is fully aware of their rights as tenants under the lease agreement and California and local(Los Angeles) law. LAMC 151.90.130. Better yet, the tenant buyout option encourages landlords to behave above-board and not abuse and misuse the narrow exceptions to wrongfully evict tenants. Landlords seeking end runs around local rent control laws and tenants rights, for example, often use the owner occupy exception to evict tenants on the pretext that the owner or qualified family member intends to move into the unit. LAMC 151.09.A.8. In addition to being governed by strict procedural requirements, this oft-abused exception carries especially trough penalties which can be as high as three times move out costs.

Rent control laws and other local and state law protecting tenants rights are complicated and vary widely from city to city across California, so hiring a seasoned landlord-tenant and eviction attorney is a must. Tenant or landlord, Reccius Law has the legal know-how and courtroom experience to protect your property rights and interests!