The below article was written by Michael Millman, Esq.  Mr.  Millman is an Attorney and a Mar Vista activist and can be reached at (310) 477-1201.   

Happy New Year.  2017 appears to be a very interesting and unique time in the Rental Housing Industry.  As we recall, President-Elect Donald Trump and his father had many subsidized rentals in the New York area and had to deal with many of the challenges and problems associated with Section 8 Housing.

Most recently, several Appellate Courts have restricted the “opportunity” of an apartment owner to opt out of the program.  No apartment owner is going to enter into an arrangement which will last in perpetuity and will not afford an arrangement to terminate the Section 8 program.  The program itself is fatally flawed. 

FIRST:  The Housing Authority refuses to set the “vouchers” at realistic, fair MARKET VALUE.

SECOND:  It takes many weeks to arrange for an inspection in order to qualify the rental unit for acceptance into the program.

THIRD:  If a tenant complains of a difficulty or problem at the rental unit, the program allows the program executor to merely terminate monthly rent until the problem is addressed and resolved.

FINALLY:  As suggested, it’s virtually impossible to withdraw from the program voluntarily and in one case, the court refused to allow the Los Angeles annual rental adjustment of 3% to be affixed and passed through. Nonetheless, our state elected officials and others want to mandate Section 8 as a mandatory program.

Tenant Screening

As we recall, in 2016, the State Legislature dramatically restricted an apartment owner’s access to eviction court records.  The automatic sealing for the first 60 days of the litigation/eviction has now been extended to perpetuity unless the tenant loses at trial.  In time, it will be almost impossible to discover whether a tenant candidate has been processed through the eviction court system.

Several years ago, Assemblyperson Reggie Sawyer-Jones (D-Los Angeles) proposed that landlords not be able to make an inquiry as to whether a tenant candidate had a criminal history or background.  That bill was defeated by a coalition of apartment associations.  Unfortunately, several weeks ago, the L.A. City Council adopted a substantially similar or identical provision or regulation as it applies to employers.  No criminal background checks until the employer has scheduled a second or third employee interview.  The concealing of criminal background and history of convictions apparently has become very popular with our “grassroots” tenant activists.  Apartment scholars and others believe that either at the local level or state level, we will see a possible revisiting of this inappropriate and drastic restriction on our ability to ensure a tenant community which is secure and safe.

Continue to support your local apartment associations.  Read and become better informed.  Survey your computer as “red alerts” may be posted to either oppose or support local or state legislation.

Michael Millman is an Attorney and a Mar Vista activist and can be reached at (310) 477-1201.