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Lawsuits Claim Pico Neighborhood Landlord Harassed Tenants


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By Jorge Casuso

May 24, 2024 -- The landlord of a three-unit rent control building in Santa Monica's Pico Neighborhood has been charged with discrimination in two separate lawsuits filed by the City and two former tenants.

The City's lawsuit filed in State Superior Court alleges that landlord Masoud Atef "intentionally discriminated against a tenant based on disability," according to the City Attorney's office.

The 25-page complaint also alleges that Atef "engaged in harassment against tenants of multiple units at the same property" at 1836 Euclid Street.

According to the City Attorney's office, the disabled tenant, who has lived on the property since 2021 and is "immunocompromised," asked Atef "multiple times" to "remediate toxic mold in her unit and temporarily relocate her during the remediation."

The lawsuit alleges that Atef declined to consider the request and told the tenant that his building is not suitable for tenants with “special conditions.

He also allegedly told the tenant that his building is “not a wise choice for someone with respiratory issues” or for those who “require special care and attention.”

Santa Monica’s Housing Anti-Discrimination Ordinance requires landlords to make "reasonable accommodations for disabled tenants" and prohibits them "from making a rental unit unavailable to a person because of that person’s disability," the City Attorney's office said.

It also prohibits landlords from "making any statements that indicate a preference, limitation, or discrimination with respect to a disability."

The complaint also alleges that Atef "has committed tenant harassment, using fraud, intimidation and coercion to influence his tenants to vacate."

These include "hiding the rent-control status of his property from his tenants," "serving illegal eviction and rent increase notices" and "threatening to evict a tenant for not agreeing to a new lease."

He also is accused of "refusing to make necessary repairs,""abusing the right to enter," "unlawfully changing tenancy terms," and "removing housing services and amenities."

Atef told The Lookout that "the lawsuit is baseless" and that he is consulting with his attorney before speaking about the case.

The City’s lawsuit seeks a court order that Atef "refrain from future harassment and discrimination" and "receive training in fair housing and landlord-tenant laws."

It also seeks to have Atef "grant the disabled tenant’s reasonable accommodations request" and "restore housing services taken away from the tenant."

In addition, the suit "seeks to recover monetary damages, punitive damages, attorneys’ fees, and other relief."

Two of Atef’s former tenants have filed a separate lawsuit with 12 causes of action alleging they moved out because of harassment, City officials said.

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