This article was posted on Tuesday, Oct 01, 2013

I believe that the “Systematic Code Enforcement Program” is a SCAM and that is why landlords in the City of Los Angeles must come together and become proactive to get rid of this very bad LAHD law/policy.

The LAHD claims they have the legal authority to enter your apartment building and go through all your rental units once every three years looking for code violations so they can cite you.  This whole thing is simply a money grab for a city that is poorly managed and has a long history of wasting taxpayer’s moneys in so many ways.

On a national level, those who know are aware thatLos Angelesis the worst run big city in theUSA.  Aside from that, Los Angeles also has a national reputation of being very business unfriendly.  SCEP is part of why this is so.

When SCEP was created, our elected officials claimed that by routinely inspecting every apartment in the City, they would make sure that landlords were doing a good job at providing a decent quality of life for their tenants.  On paper that sounds good but then again so does “The Communist Manifesto”.  Here is what is wrong with SCEP:

  1. When a LAHD inspector enters an apartment and finds code violations, it is the landlord who gets cited.  Now, the LAHD claims it does cite tenants but I know hundreds of landlords who own rental property inL.A.and I don’t know of one landlord who has ever seen a tenant get cited for creating a code violation. The logic behind this according to the LAHD is that in the end, the owner is responsible for the condition of the property.  That is BS.  Sure, the owner is responsible for routine maintenance but I’ve been at dozens of inspections where it is obvious that the tenant caused the code violation inside his/her unit.  Removal of smoke detectors, missing screens, illegal construction inside the apartment, damaged to the inside of the unit and even the storing of industrial chemicals (such as welding tanks) that could create an inferno; when a tenant does things like this, they should be cited.  I’ve been at many inspections when an LAHD inspector points out a code violation to the landlord and the tenant nearby speaks up, without being tricked, readily admits that he committed the code violation.  Even then, tenants are not cited, the landlord gets cited.  This is corruption. One inspector admitted to me there is no place on the screen of his portable device to write anything negative about any tenant.  Yet, there is plenty of space to write negative remarks about the landlord.  This is not by accident it is by design.

Another inspector told me “off the record” that tenants can easily move away and then the LAHD won’t be able to collect the fines associated to the code violation.  Whereas the landlord is much easier to find and collect money from.  This is discrimination.

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  1. If your local Police department suspects that you are involved in criminal activity, if they come to your home and knock on the door, they are required by law to have a warrant in order to enter your home.  If they don’t have a warrant, you don’t have to allow them to enter.

So why are housing inspectors allowed to enter apartments when a tenant doesn’t want them to enter?  A lawyer recently told me that a tenant has the legal right to tell the inspector to go away.  Now if the tenant does this, then inspectors go get an administrative warrant and accompanied by the Police show up at a later date to enter the apartment.   I’ve been there when tenants have told inspectors, they rather not have the inspector come into their apartment and then some inspectors pull out their badge which looks much like a LAPD badge.  Sometimes an inspector will make a vague reference about “going to jail”.    This tactic really scares many renters, especially those who were not born in this country.   This is a violation of a tenant’s privacy.

I know many renters who simply don’t want the LAHD entering their apartment at all.  Tenants don’t like to take time off from their job waiting for the inspector to show up.  Most tenants are not aware of a LAHD policy that if a housing inspector sees something inside of an apartment that hints of illegal activity, the housing inspector is suppose to notify the LAPD.  How is that for a warm and comforting thought?

  1. Collecting the inspection fees. I know dozen of landlords, who pay the SCEP fees and then try to collect the tenant’s share from his renters.   There are many tenants who give their landlord a hard time and simply don’t want to pay any SCEP fees at all.  Collecting these SCEP fees from renters has ruined many good relationships between landlord and renters.  It is also time consuming for a landlord to explain to every tenant why they are obligated the pay their portion of the inspection fees.  This is just a hassle, it wastes time for landlords and I don’t know of any tenant who feels good about paying SCEP fees.
  2. We must stop the insanity. If we landlords don’t come together and fight back against SCEP, it won’t be long before those landlord haters at the LAHD come up with another plan to take more money out of your pocket.  As of this writing the LAHD is trying to figure out a way to obtain legal jurisdiction over single-family homes.  Here is the first step…  Near the end of July, they were lobbying for the Los Angeles City Council to approve a $274 filing fee every time a bank forecloses on a single-family home.  That fee would be paid to the LAHD.

Having a registry of homes being foreclosed does not improve the quality of life for anyone, it does not lower the crime rate, and it does nothing for the general public good.

It only gives the Los Angeles Housing Department more power and more money to hire more inspectors.  This is a really bad idea. If passed, it will cause banks to pass those fees onto their customers and may cause some banks to be much more rigid when it comes to giving home mortgage loans to first time buyers.

You may be one of those landlords who believes that you will get fairness from your government so long as you maintain your property well, pay your taxes on time and obey the law.   That is the way it used to be in an America that no longer exists, at least not in the City of Los Angeles.  For you to get fairness from your local government you need to be aware of what is going on and you need to be involved.  There are evil forces lobbying the government in order to hurt our industry and some are inside the government.

This is a Call to Action and Here is Your First Step

Would you be willing to have your tenants sign a petition to allow them to opt out of SCEP?  At this time, tenants are not allowed to opt out.  If we acquire enough signatures,

if we lobby the Mayor and the City Council, if we come together like an army, we will win.  We can take the teeth out of SCEP.

Tell your tenants to check out  I believe that in life, when things are unfair, there are only two types of people complainers and warriors.  Complainers never improve anything; it is the warriors of the world who change things.  Are you willing to get in touch with your inner warrior?

If you’re willing to fight for your rights because you don’t want the government taking more of them away, you should contact me so we can fight together to make life better for housing providers in Los Angeles.

Bill Hooey is with the Fair Housing Coalition, fighting for the rights of Los   Angeles housing providers and may be reached at 323-397-8740, [email protected] or











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