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
“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,
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
- Make timely progress on the repairs to the building to ensure
that the tenant is able to return to his apartment as soon as
“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.”