So, let’s start at the beginning. Some of the data developed through the apartment industry reflects that many tenants have failed to apply for the “relief programs” available. The computer programming apparently requires an advanced Master’s Degree from the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, or MIT! It’s too difficult, complicated, and the system gives rise to abandonment, frustration and failure. Simply stated, tenants who have otherwise qualified, have failed to do so. Landlords trying to cooperate have also been rejected. The “outreach program” is terrible. So, many tenants remain living in units and haven’t paid rent since March 2020.
Big Political Joke
(Providers are not laughing!)
Effective September 1, 2020, the tenants were supposed to pay at least 25% of the rent. None have done so. There was a loophole built in by the tenant activists where the tenants were required to make the payment, but they could roll it over or bank it until January 31, 2021, and of course, then, that deadline was relaxed and moved to June 30, 2021. Now, they want to relax and move it maybe to perhaps December 31, 2021. It doesn’t really matter because in San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, Santa Monica, Long Beach, Inglewood and so many other cities, the individual Council Districts have extended the eviction moratorium until probably the latter part of September 2021.
Remember, in Los Angeles, all rents have been frozen, and the tenants do not have to pay the annual rental adjustment or increase until sometime in 2023 or perhaps later! Meanwhile, landlords’ expenses have probably increased at a factor of 15% per year. Water, sewage and trash have gone up 25% per year. Essential apartment and housing fixtures and appliances have gone up 300%. Roofing, gardeners, landscapers, pest control, plumbers, electricians, handymen and materials have gone up 100%.
Remember, property taxes go up 2% per year. Sometimes, your insurance goes up 40%. All along, in Los Angeles, they now want to decrease the annual rental adjustment to 60% of CPI.
In West Hollywood, I believe it’s 75% of CPI, and in Santa Monica it’s 75% of CPI, so the annual rental adjustment in Santa Monica will be 1.7% or less. AB 1482, in some jurisdictions, will allow a rental increase of 8.6%, but none of the owners are doing so in order to protect and preserve good tenants.
Many tenants are incredibly wealthy. They’re working remotely from home. Facebook, Sony Studios, Paramount, 20th Century Fox, CBS, NBC, Disney, Universal, Amazon, Microsoft, Apple and Google all employ these people. They’re really wealthy. Yet their rents have been frozen since March 2020, and they’re gaming the system. There is no evidence of COVID-19 hardship. No evidence whatsoever, but try and prevail in court.
Plan to Collect in Court?
The eviction courts are not going to throw anyone out. SB 91 is flawed. A tenant should put up, each and every month, at least one half of the rent due. The provision that you can collect money through Small Claims Court is another big joke and fatally flawed. No landlord can afford to risk going to Small Claims Court. Remember, if you’re a claimant or a plaintiff in Small Claims Court, you have no right of appeal. Plus, most liberal judges will rule in favor of the tenant! Our lawmakers knew this as they laughingly passed this ridiculous law.
So, a landlord cannot afford to go to court and have a commissioner or maybe a local attorney who knows little or nothing about landlord-tenant law hear the case, because if they don’t win, or if the judge is confused or misguided, then the defendant/tenant wins, and the landlord has no right of appeal. Be careful. Change the law. Both parties should have an absolute right of appeal.
Tenants Should Pay
All tenants should pay for their own water, sewage and trash. All tenants should pay 50% of earthquake retrofit, and balcony and stair repair. Tenants should pay one half of the cost of property taxes, parcel taxes and bonds. Let’s make some changes that are fair.
Please click here to print the protest letter and join the “Big Protest”! Also, send a copy of this article with your “Protest” picture and I thank you!
Michael Millman is an Attorney and a Mar Vista activist.