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 Member Update
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you don’t pay, for a late fee which is an outrageous amount. If a private individual charged the same rate the City is charging you, he would be prosecuted for usury. How many times are landlords cited due to tenant intentional acts of destruction or negligence?
You also have to pay when you are criminally prosecuted pursuant to the tenets of the HCID+LA when they process your inspections, re-inspections, putting a file together and forwarding it to the City Attorney’s Office. Can the City show us one other “criminal,” such as a murderer, rapist, or child molester who has to pay to be prosecuted? But it only gets worse! Under the doctrine of the Bachrach case, a 1980 Los Angeles Appellate Department case that only affects the County of Los Angeles, you cannot put on any defense. The City Attorney’s Office only has to show that you owned, possessed or managed the property while there was a code violation. This is known as strict liability. Prosecution does not have to show mens rea, a guilty state of mind, nor actus rea, a guilty act.
Even the Taliban and terrorists may put on a defense in court. You, as an owner of rental property, cannot. Is this fair? Is this right? Is this justice? Why are the Mayor and the City Council afraid of giving you the rights of any other criminal defendant? Is it a surprise that there is inadequate housing and a diminishing affordable housing base?
THE REAP RAPE
REAP (the Rent Escrow Account Program) is always accompanied by a rent reduction of up to 50%. This means that if your property is in REAP, your tenant pays rent into a trust fund at a reduced rate, with you not receiving any monies. The City will charge you $50 per unit per month for the “privilege” of being placed in REAP. Of course, you still must pay for gas, water, electricity, insurance, your trust deed on the property and all the other expenses. Additionally, you must bring the building into code compliance. Where is the money coming from to make all these payments? At the same time, the City will file a substandard order, which is recorded against your property. This effectively means that most lenders will not refinance the property. Get the point! They
want your building and they’re not shy about taking it away from you.
Most Council members and the Mayor have not, are not, and will not, in the near future, be redressing your grievances and helping you. It is equally clear that in addition to the political endeavors we engage in, we must aggressively go forth to slay the dragons in courts of law. This, of course, requires the expenditure of monies. We need your political, emotional, and moral support. But we also need, and strongly request, your immediate financial support.
If not now, then when? If not you, then who? If you don’t step-up to the plate and be counted, who will be around when you need immediate help? Rodney Dangerfield said it many times, “I don’t get no respect.” Let us show the Mayor and City Council that we aim to get respect. We aim to do what’s right. The time has come. The time is now.
The Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles has worked hard and been fair with the City Attorney’s Office and HCID+LA in setting up programs and courses to instruct, teach, and educate owners how to manage, operate and perform as the owners of rental housing. The public does not understand, the worse slumlord in the City of Los Angeles is the City of Los Angeles. Who wants to live in a City-owned rental housing unit? We are no longer willing to be doormats but will stand up for our rights by taking the appropriate legal action.
The present system is not working when profit becomes a four-letter word. Unless we develop an open line of communication where government does not favor one side over another, or actively work hand-in-hand with tenants to the detriment of owners, we will have no alternative other than continuing to file lawsuits against the City.
 Harold Greenberg, Esq. is the Managing Partner of The Law Firm of Harold Greenberg, a boutique law firm based in Los Angeles. He is a member of the Board of Directors and is a Past President of the Board of Directors of the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles. You can reach Mr. Greenberg at (323) 732-9536.
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