Letters

Dear AOA:

As a renter, I think it is time to move on from this moratorium. I have witnessed first-hand the abuse that goes on in my community. I live in an 8-unit complex and six of the units have intentionally withheld rent just because they can. The non-paying neighbors have posted on my door to also join their rent-strike as part of their revolt against this system they do not like. All of the renters are working and have no current covid hardship. Even though I have every opportunity to do this to my landlord, I choose not to because my landlord has been greatly impacted too for no fault of his own. My landlord is a first-generation immigrant family that always attends to my needs in my unit. They work hard, their kids often come by to help with the maintenance and I have gotten to know their entire family. It sickens me to see the stress they are going through with emboldened tenants who have no respect for the property they are living in for free. The amount of disregard of cleaning up after themselves in the communal areas have definitely stopped. I try to help the owners whenever the landlord or his kids come by with the general maintenance just so I can continue to talk to them and to see how they are doing. I do not think the city knows the amount of destruction they are causing to these good hard working small landlords. It is definitely a side of the story that never gets told. I would hope the City recognizes their policies are not perfect and makes some changes that allow these hard-working small landlords to regain some control of their property again. – Margarita R.

Letter Sent to Nury Martinez at LA City Rent Control

Dear Nury:

I have offered affordable housing to low-income families for 20 years. My rents are no higher than $1,500 for a two-bedroom apartment. I was recently offered a building in the city of Los Angeles but turned it down. The eviction moratorium means more than you perhaps understand. It allows tenants not to pay but also to do whatever they want upsetting paying tenants. Your moratorium creates havoc. It’s a financial liability. I’m sorry you chose that instead of affordable housing for the city of Los Angeles. – Jennifer D.

Letter Sent to the Mayor:

Mr. Mayor:

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Yesterday, I attended Councilman Lee’s rally ending the eviction moratorium. It really disturbed me what I heard. An elderly 84-year-old woman with lung disease cannot collect rent and move to her apartment. Another gentleman (who was crying) who cannot afford to send his children to college due to the fact the tenants do not pay the rent because you, Mayor Garcetti, took over our property rights. Meanwhile, the tenant, who does not pay the rent, bought new Mercedes. Tell me, Mr. Mayor, which company, department store, or grocery store can stay in business without getting paid?

I came to this country as an immigrant who worked hard and bought a small apartment building to enjoy my senior years. I had two hip replacement surgeries and I have physical issues.  I cannot find any other job at the age of 70. How am I supposed to make a living? I have family who come from Cuba. In Cuba, if you rent an apartment, you have to pay rent. You are killing all the landlords silently. You and council president Martinez are very upset that Russia is demolishing/bombing apartment buildings. You guys are doing same to us with the exception of bombing but killing us SILENTLY.

I have a tenant who claims to have Covid but she does not. She goes out every night, bought new clothes and she thinks she owns my building by telling other tenants what to do. She complained to the housing department that I am not doing her repairs. Instead of the housing department asking her if she is paying her rent, the housing department calls me and orders me to do the repairs otherwise I face consequences. I just spent over $90K to do earthquake retrofit in my building and now you want balcony inspection/repair but are telling tenants “DONT PAY YOUR RENT.” You, Mr. Mayor, and Nury Martinez are doing great job eliminating the landlords. Why are you discriminating against landlords? I know you are not going to read this e-mail – one of your deputies will and they may reply with excuses they gave me with a bunch of numbers to call.  I spent days calling and none of them helped.  THIS MORATORIUM MUST END NOW UNLESS YOU WANT LANDLORDS TO GET SICK, BE ELIMINATED OR DIE.  Thank you. – Benny H.

SENT TO CITY OF L.A.

Nury Martinez:

I own a small apartment building in the city of Los Angeles.  I have worked hard and saved for over 30 years to be able to purchase the property. I have a tenant that has not paid the rent since March of 2020 due to the eviction moratorium. The tenant has received the assistance from housing is key which was paid up until March 2022.  However, the tenant has not paid any rent since then and does not intend to pay any rent as long as the eviction moratorium is in place which is scheduled to continue until at least August of 2023. I know for a fact that the tenant has continued to work since the beginning of the moratorium and has not suffered any financial loss.

The cost to provide housing and to operate the property is increasing every year and the city has not allowed any rent increases since march of 2020.  I still have to pay my property taxes, increasing mortgage payment, insurance, water and power, gas, trash, gardener, and maintenance for the property.  

It is completely unbelievable that the city can expect a small property owner to bear the financial rental losses and the tenants don’t even have to prove that they have been affected by Covid.

Something must be done immediately to put a stop to this unfair eviction and rental increase moratorium.  Thank you, Marty D.

California Violates Housing Providers’ Constitutional Rights!

Dear AOA:

Food stamps (EBT) are an excellent program for helping the poor. After vetting, if one qualifies for food stamps, they receive a set number of stamps to spend at the grocery store. The grocery store accepts those food stamps and the federal government compensates the store fully. There is no loss to the grocery store. They are just a conduit for a good social program.

Los Angeles County has created a social program for people who may have been affected by Covid. But the issue is anyone who stopped paying rent got a free pass. The program never vetted those who really needed it. It was given to all on the backs of any housing provider who had tenants who decided not to pay. It didn’t matter if they had a full-time job and were never affected by the pandemic. They could just quit paying rent. There was no recourse for the housing providers who have suffered greatly. This was a good idea to help the needy but terrible implementation. The government had actually taken from the housing provider and gave to the tenant, a free handout. It’s as if they reached

into our pockets and pulled money out; money that is needed for maintenance, utilities, insurance, water and county property tax. We understand that there’s a lot of expense in being a housing provider.

The “Takings Clause” of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution reads as follows: “Nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” In understanding the provision, we both agree that it is helpful to keep in mind the reasons behind it. We agree that the clause is intended to uphold the principle that the government should not single out isolated individuals to bear excessive burdens, even in support of an important public good. When this happens, the payment of “just compensation” provides a means of removing any special burden. The most influential statement of this principle is found in Armstrong v. United States (1960), where the Supreme Court wrote: “The Fifth Amendment’s [Takings Clause] . . . was designed to bar Government

from forcing some people alone to bear public burdens which, in all fairness and justice, should be borne by the public as a whole.” Basically, the state of California and Los Angeles County are violating housing providers constitutional rights. – John Shafer

 

Jeff:

I have been sending letters telling these morons they have REDUCED the number of housing units by this Moratorium.  No one wants to give up possession of their property knowing they most likely would not be able to evict.  It cost my friend over $50,000 to evict his tenant and regain possession of his property, He has a mortgage payment, never received rent, incurred horrific legal expenses and then had to practically rebuild his unit … it was severely damaged……TORN APART.

Our laws are backwards.

Thank you for keeping AOA in the forefront for landlords like myself and others in California. Please give my best to your father. You both are what we need in California.

Thank you, Linda B. – Alameda County

 

Sent to the City of L.A.

Hello Alex:

It was disconcerting to hear that your office is doing nothing in concert with the LA Housing Department to provide recommendations to City Council with respect to commercial evictions.

Please find attached copy of the Council President’s motion stamped February 22, 2022

for the L.A. Housing Department together with the City Attorney’s Office to prepare a report 

withing 30 days with recommendations and possible amendments to the eviction moratorium.

The eviction moratorium is found in Ordinance 186606 and specifically addresses commercial evictions in SEC. 49.99.3. PROHIBITION ON COMMERCIAL EVICTIONS.

Without a doubt, your office is also responsible for co-handling the report to be presented to city council. 

Below is an email that I sent to Anna Hovesepian in Nury Martinez’s office: 

“There is an overall problem with the changes to Ordinance 186606. Attorneys and judges are left to interpret the status of the law without a definitive declaration of the law adopted by City Council.  The City Council itself had problems in interpreting the status of the law with respect to commercial evictions and asked the City’s Chief Legislative Analyst (“CLA”) to advise them as to the same.  In two reports to City Council dated 3-17-22 and 4-13-22, the CLA reported on page 5 as follows: “As of February 1, 2022, commercial tenants are no longer protected from eviction due to nonpayment of rent. Tenants who comply with the County’s tenant protection procedures will have an extended period of time to repay past due rent, which depends on the number of employees at the business, unless prior arrangement have been made with the landlord….”

While on Page 6, the CLA states that commercial tenants have 12 months (in the case of 10-100 employees) to repay rent by January 31, 2023, or 6 months (in the case of 9 or less employees) to repay rent by July 1, 2023, in equal monthly installments. This is confusing in light of Nuri Martinez’s motion stamped February 22, 2022, requiring the Housing Department and City Attorney to report back in 30 days with recommendations and amendments to the eviction moratorium. In the motion Ms. Martinez states the following: “To make sure residents are not confused about upcoming changes to Los Angeles’s emergency protections, the city must work from the State’s deadline of May 2023 for rental payment during COVID-19. In alignment with the year-long repayment period, we must provide enough time for tenants to comfortably pay rent that accumulated over the pandemic.”

This statement gives rise to the following issues that are further confusing the Courts, attorneys, and the public alike in so far as:

  • When did the Pandemic begin and end for purposes of calculating past due rent to be repaid?
  • The State mandates that past due rent be repaid by May 2023, the City Council and/or Mayor should have ended the emergency declaration and the eviction moratorium as of April 30, 2022.

The City Council’s refusal to deal with these issues causes confusion for all concerned. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that none of the county or city’s Tenant Protection Notices have addressed these issues at all. Please see the following attached documents:

  • Los Angeles County Updated COVID-19 Tenant Protection for Commercial Tenants Last updated September 30,2021
  • Los Angeles County Updated COVID-19 Tenant Protection resolution updated January 26, 2022; and
  • Workforce Development Aging and Community Services report to City Council dated and adopted by City Council February 15, 2022.

The people deserve a clear and concise statement of the current law in a NEW Ordinance.

My recommendation as to commercial evictions are as follows:

  1. Effective February 1, 2022, SEC. 49.99.3. PROHIBITION ON COMMERCIAL EVICTIONS is repealed.
  2. For purposes of calculating past due rent covered by the now repealed Ordinance 186606 more specifically SEC. 49.99.3. PROHIBITION ON COMMERCIAL EVICTIONS, Past Due Rent shall be defined by all amounts not paid by a commercial tenant from May 1, 2020, to and including January 31, 2022 (“Protected Period”).
  3. Commercial and/or guarantors’ failure to pay current or past due rent under the Protected Period are subject to eviction. Furthermore, any and all past due rent shall become immediately due and payable plus interest at 10% on a go forward basis.
  4. Landlords shall have the right to bring civil causes of action for fraud against any commercial tenant and/or guarantors who claims COVID-19 hardship falsely. In such actions, commercial tenants and/or guarantors shall be barred from bring a harassment action against the landlord.

It is incumbent on the City Council to repeal and replace Ordinance 186606 eliminating any confusion as to the current status of the law as it is preempted by the state law. Nothing must be left as to interpretation. It may already be too late for residential tenants and commercial tenants of 10 or more employees.”

I hope you were wrong and that someone in your office is dealing with the issues raised in this email.

Moreover, I hope you forward this email to the person handling recommendations to City Council and that my suggestions are included in your recommendations to City Council. Please do not hesitate to call me with any question or comments you may have. I look forward to hearing from you. 

Best regards, Michael Hartounian