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Landlords Are Frustrated! The below letter was sent to the Daily Journal By- Attorney Michael Millman

Posted on 01. Sep, 2020 by in all

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Dear Friends:

Thank you for your articles.  Let’s start at the beginning.  

The overwhelming, vast majority of apartment owners are small family-owned groups.  Yes, the true “mom and pop” owners.  Elena Popp, who has run the Eviction Network Service for 20 years or longer, was attempting to defend tenants and losing in those jurisdictions wherein an owner can serve a simple, one page notice terminating a tenancy.

She fought for years to install a Berkeley rent control bureaucracy in West Hollywood, Culver City, Inglewood, Long Beach and, of course, Santa Monica.

My good friend, Debra Carlton, with the California Apartment Association, (CAA) is very compassionate, sensitive, intelligent and nice.  However, CAA represents super-large, luxury, newly constructed rental units – many, of which, have Wall Street Hedge Fund backing.

Most apartment owners cannot wait 10 years to be repaid for back rent.  This type of legislation encourages dishonest tenants to “game the system.” They’ll create some reason why the Coronavirus impacted their livelihood and they know that the eviction process has now been postponed and delayed by the Judicial Council and local municipalities for almost 18 months or longer.  The real game by the tenant activists hasn’t been stated to you and others – forbearance or cancellation of rent.

Your newspaper certainly understands that the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution provides that “taking property” without a fair hearing and just compensation is unlawful and unconstitutional.  So some clever tenant activists have just promoted “postponing” the payment of rent until finally a landlord is so frustrated that he or she will simply tell the tenant “Let’s reach some type of compromise” rather than wait 10 years and maybe the landlord will get a repayment of 20% or less.

Remember, while the tenant is living in the unit and not paying rent, the owner is still obligated to handle the habitability issues such as maintenance, pest control, flooring, roofing, landscaping, maintenance of the laundry room, plumbing, electrical as well as maintaining the property taxes, parcel taxes, school bonds and insurance.  Who’s going to handle the mortgage payments?  Most of these small units are the only income for seniors.  This is their retirement.  They are not day traders in the stock market.  There is no deal with tenant activists who want to extend the time in which to repay the back rents by a factor of 10 years or longer.

 

AB 1436 is Even Worse

It extends the repayment formula by 15 months after the local municipality declares the emergency has terminated.  Do you believe Berkeley, Oakland, West Hollywood or Santa Monica would ever make a finding or determination that the emergency has terminated?  Never.

So what’s really needed are some modifications of our existing laws.  

First, the state law should provide that all tenants are responsible for paying their own water, sewage and trash.  In Los Angeles, there are 640,000 rent stabilized units with master, single water meters where the bill only comes to the owner – the tenants don’t pay water.

In Los Angeles, West Hollywood and Santa Monica, the owners now have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars doing earthquake retrofit, but the costs cannot be passed through entirely to the tenants.  Yes, Los Angeles, using an arcane formula, provides the owner may get back some money.  In West Hollywood, you get nothing.  In Santa Monica, you get less than nothing.

Write a good article titled Who Runs Santa Monica?  Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights (SMRR), the political group founded by actress Jane Fonda and Vietnam activist, Tom Hayden.  SMRR controls the City Council, Planning, the Rent Board, the College Board and the School Board.  A SMRR endorsement gets you elected.

Do the research. It was SMRR that told the Santa Monica Mayor, City Council, the City Manager and the Police Chief to take no action on May 31, 2020 when the protesters came to Santa Monica and marched on Ocean Avenue.  All of the police assets were located on Ocean Avenue.  The city was looted, burned and vandalized.  200 stores were destroyed with their inventory taken.  There was no police intervention.  None.  SMRR didn’t want confrontations where there would be possible injuries to others, yet proprietors and businesspersons were beaten, attacked and injured.  They lost their entire livelihoods when their stores were destroyed.  Drive into Santa Monica.  You’ll see on Montana Avenue, Main Street, Fourth Street, and Downtown that stores were boarded up and will never reopen.

If Sacramento and the municipalities left owners and tenants alone, they could probably negotiate a compromise to help each other. 

Thank you for your article and please understand how much I admire and respect CAA Vice President, Debra Carlton; however, respectfully, I disagree with her approach.  Tenants need help and they should get rent vouchers from the state.  Travel to the DMV, prove that you’re needy and get your voucher.

 

 

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