LA Landlord Takes LAHD to Court … and Wins

VOICES-Hold on to your hat, it is going to get windy. 

There is a landlord who is a member of our coalition and he took the LAHD to court and won.   The LAHD just would not stop harassing him.  He along with this attorney Thomas Nitti of Santa Monica convinced a judge that the LAHD has an agenda against him.  So, the court order the LAHD to leave him alone except for regularly schedule SCEP inspections.  He is not due for another one of those for another three years. 

This made the LAHD very angry, the fact that a landlord fought back and won in court. Then the LAHD went to another judge and convinced that judge that his buildings are in terrible condition (which they are not) and that judge gave the LAHD a court order allowing them to inspect all his buildings all over again. 

The LAHD decided to bring in the LA County Health Department so they could stick it to the landlord as many ways as possible.   When they arrived at the building, they found a “Denial of Entrance” sign posted on every apartment door in the building.  Each was signed by the tenant of that apartment.   

The posted sign basically said “I as the legal resident of this unit do not want any inspector entering my apartment. There is nothing wrong with this unit and if I want your help, I will call you.  Do not enter my unit for any reason.” 

Even though the law requires law enforcement to have a warrant to enter your home, it seems that the LAHD believes they have the authority to disregard the US Constitution. 

The LAHD brought in a locksmith to disable the door locks so they could enter every unit.  They also brought in the LAHD to protect the locksmith so no one could stop him.   Some of the tenants were home and others were not.  Can you imagine how the tenants felt when they saw six people entering their apartments? 

First one in the door was a LAPD officer, followed by three people from the LAHD and two health inspectors.  I arrived before all this happened and I told the Police that I am in the media. I write articles for the AOA magazine and I host a weekly radio show.  

The inspectors screamed at me not to video their faces but the Police told them that since I had been invited inside the property by the owner, they could not stop me. 

According to the owner’s lawyer, the breaking into to all the tenants’ apartments was illegal. Now five of the tenants want to sue the city.  They are furious because these inspectors opened up dresser drawers and looked behind their furniture. 

I plan to help them so we start winning over tenant support citywide.  The next day, I went to City Hall and told the housing committee what had happened and that I have it all on video.  A reporter from the LA Times, who happened to be there, told me that she was interested in doing a story on this. 

Yesterday, Wednesday, 12/17/14, the LAHD and the Health Department showed up again at another property in Hollywood owned by the same landlord.  This time, they did not bring a locksmith, the LAPD was not there (I think they figured out that being there would create bad press for them and already the Police are getting too much bad press nationally). 

And… the reporter from the LA Times that I had met a week earlier did show up with a photo journalist who took plenty of pictures.  She interviewed the owner, she interviewed me and she stayed there for two hours following the inspectors as they tried   to scare the renters and con their way into the apartments.  How wonderful is that for us housing providers? 

Only one tenant allowed them in, all the other tenants either did not answer the door or told then “NO” they were not going to let them.  Again, I got it all on video.  Over the next few days, I plan to interview five angry tenants (angry at the LAH) and the landlord’s attorney. Once I have all that on video, I’m going to edit the whole thing, put it on-line and start promoting it to every I know in the local and national media.  Then you’ll see our city leaders all stating in the media that they had “no idea” all this was going on. 

What gives up a bit more “fire power” is that now the LAHD has no problem violating the tenant’s right to say “NO” to them. 

Fun times are ahead …  Maybe God is in a good mood this Holiday season and he gave LA landlords a wonderful present.

   

(Bill Hooey heads the Fair Housing Coalition, advocates for Los Angeles’ landlords.)

-cw

 

 

 

CityWatch

Vol 12 Issue 102

Pub: Dec 19, 2014

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