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Elderly Tenant to Get Apartment Back Under Settlement Agreement

By Lookout Staff

April 11 -- An 88-year-old tenant will return to the Santa Monica rent-controlled apartment he called home for nearly 40 years under a settlement last week between the landlord and the City.

The City charged that the tenant had been illegally displaced under its tenant relocation ordinance when the landlord vacated the unit for City-mandated repairs.

Santa Monica law requires that landlords provide their tenants with temporary apartments located in the city if they are forced to leave for more than 30 days. If tenants are displaced less than 30 days, the landlord must make daily payments to compensate for temporary housing, meals and other expenses.

In this case, the tenant had been forced to vacate the apartment he had lived in since 1969 nearly a year ago and has been living with his sister in Laguna Niguel, almost 70 miles from the beachside city.

“As a result of being displaced from his home, the tenant in this case had to live without most of his belongings, reschedule or cancel his doctors appointments, most of which were in Santa Monica, and live with the stress of not knowing if or when he could return to his apartment,” said Deputy City Attorney Eda Suh.

The landlord refused to pay the tenant relocation benefits, accept his rent payments and acknowledge his right to return to his unit, Suh said.

After a family member filed a complaint with the City Attorney’s Consumer Protection Unit, the landlord agreed to pay the tenant $15,928 in relocation fees and fully comply with the other provisions of the City’s Relocation law.

“When we learned of this situation, we immediately contacted the landlord to advise her of the law and get her side of the story,” said Paula Rockenstein, the City’s Consumer Affairs Specialist.

The landlord finally agreed to the settlement after the City threatened to file a lawsuit to enforce the law, City officials said.

“Once the landlord realized that the relocation law applied to her – and that the City would enforce that law – the parties came to a swift resolution,” Suh said.

Under the settlement, the landlord agreed to:

  • Pay the tenant $15,928 to compensate the tenant for the 11 months he has been displaced, in lieu of the comparable housing required by the law.
  • Continue to pay the tenant the equivalent value of comparable housing until the tenant moves back into his apartment.
  • Accept rent payments from the tenant.
  • Acknowledge the tenant’s right to return when the repairs are completed.
  • Make timely progress on the repairs to the building to ensure that the tenant is able to return to his apartment as soon as possible.

“It turned out that both the landlord and the tenant were unclear about the relocation law and all of its requirements,” said Suh. “It’s a great example of how educating our residents about the law can help to bring these problem situations to a good resolution.”





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