If you own rental units in the City of Los Angeles and you’ve had encounters with the Los Angeles Housing Department, most likely you have learned “the hard way” that the LAHD has an anti-landlord agenda. They levy so many fines against landlords and put so many properties in REAP that they actually create cash flow for the City of Los Angeles. Yes, the LAHD is a cash cow for the City. It is also, in my humble opinion, a criminal operation.
Maybe you’ve noticed that when tenants create a code violation inside their unit that it is you who is cited. Is that fair? Of course not, but the LAHD is not about fairness, they are about generating income for the City. They are a corrupt government agency. Well … if you are tired of this corruption, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Just so you understand… I met some fair-minded inspectors and some decent people in various departments at the LAHD but the marching orders come from the top and that is the source of the evil inside this operation.
Recently, I met with three of the top people at the L.A. City Attorney’s office and I have convinced them that there is the possibility of an anti-landlord agenda at the LAHD that goes so far that it breaks the law. They told me to give them some proof. This is why I am writing this article. Do you know a landlord who has been severely mistreated by the LAHD? Maybe this person had his/her property put in REAP for no good reason? If you or someone you know has an eye-opening story to tell, I need it reduced to one-page and e-mailed to me.
I’m also talking with a Federal Law Enforcement Agency and they want the same type of proof. I often speak before the Los Angeles City Council and I expose wrongdoing at the LAHD. Now, one council member approached me and told me that he wants some proof and he has promised to take action and put a stop to it. So, if you can provide me with some hard facts of horrible mistreatment, I will give it to the City Attorney’s Office, the Council Member and a Federal Agency. We need to cut the LAHD down to size and get rid of SCEP and REAP. If we don’t, they will keep coming up with more bad ideas.
Speaking of bad ideas… ACE (Administrative Code Enforcement) could be the next big nightmare for Los Angeles landlords. Councilman Paul Koretz and City Attorney Carmen Trutanich created the idea for this new law. It was presented to the Budget and Finance Committee at City Hall (the first step in making a proposal a new law). We put the word out and about twenty landlords spoke up against this bad idea. Several of Council members on the committee agreed with us and they sent it back to the City Attorney’s Office for a partial re-write. Basically, here is how ACE would work if the LA City Council approves it.
You own an apartment building and a neighbor down the block notices from the street that you have a potential code violation. It might be a broken awning, a front fence that is a foot too high, some old sofa on the curb, or car parts on the front lawn, etc. Your neighbor will be able to call the Los Angeles Police Department and they will send out a Police Officer to write you a ticket for that code violation. The ticket will be an instant fine and it doesn’t matter if you fix the code violation the next day, you will still have to pay the ticket and most fines will be in the one thousand dollar price range. Isn’t that wonderful? Is Stalin secretly running City Hall? It is impossible to see what your tenants are doing twenty-four hours a day but once your tenant does something illegal; it will be you who gets fined.
In the City of Los Angeles, we already have the Fire Department, The Health Department, Building and Safety and the LAHD. Do we need another level of enforcement against landlords? No, we do not. I’ve talked to a few Police Officers while standing in line at local stores and they hate the idea. They prefer to chase and capture criminals. Most landlords know the LAHD and Building and Safety codes often conflict with each other and sometimes you can be cited by one department but the other one won’t sign off so you end up stuck in a form of limbo (or Hell) and you can’t get the case closed for one code violation — and then, they city wants to fine you some more. We must work together to fight the insanity.
We are also in the process of working with the City Attorney’s Office to set up a town hall meeting sometime in January where the City Attorney will stand before an auditorium full of landlords and explain why “ACE” is a good idea. He will also be listening to your feedback. Once I get the exact date and location, I urge all L.A. landlords to attend. If you want to be there call me or e-mail.
In the City of Los Angeles, landlords can no longer sit back and wait for some hero to come along and fight for their rights. I’ve been fighting for two years and I’m constantly amazed how few landlords are willing to show up in City Hall and speak up when someone is trying to create a new law that will hurt us. I believe that the politicians have figured this out and they know they can cater to the radical renters groups, (because they are a bigger voting block) – they can violate our rights and we will just keep quiet and take it. I decided two years ago not to take it anymore.
If you believe that ownership of your property is worth fighting for, you must get involved. If you call me or send me your e-mail address, I will notify you of upcoming hearings that you should know about. Then, put on your “war face” and show up.
And… if you have a horrible story to tell because of how you’ve been mistreated by the Los Angeles Housing Department, contact me by phone or e-mail. I want to expose what is going on. We must expose the culture of corruption inside the LAHD. I have been fighting back against some other bad ideas during the last two years and we won a few times. If you like the taste of victory, you need to become proactive. With all due respect, whenever I write an article for the AOA magazine, I end up getting many phone calls with landlords wanting to give me ideas concerning other things I should be fight for or against. I need to explain that ideas are almost meaningless. It is not the idea that has value, it is the effort put behind the idea. Have you ever heard some guy comment about a popular new invention and claim that he thought of it years ago but did nothing?
That is why he is still broke. If you do nothing then nothing is going to be your end result. Prayer is good but one should pray for guidance and not to have God do his work for him/her. If you do most of the heavy lifting, if you’re working hard for the greater good, God will come in at the proper time. Even so, we need you to get involved in this battle good versus evil.
Bill Hooey may be reached at (323) 397-8740, at [email protected] or P.O. Box 46123, Los Angeles, CA 90046.