LOS ANGELES – March 27, 2017 – Inner City Law Center (ICLC) and Kendall Brill & Kelly LLP (KBK) are suing a corporate property-flipping landlord who seeks to force long-term, low-income residents out of a gentrifying neighborhood within walking distance of Silverlake and Echo Park.
Built in 1926, the building at 240 N. Robinson Street is home to eight low- and middle-income Latino families. The building is prized real estate because of its close proximity to LA’s increasingly expensive northeast neighborhoods.
“The landlord is targeting residents who are mostly first generation immigrants and monolingual Spanish speakers,” said David Aigboboh, an attorney with ICLC’s Homelessness Prevention Project. “Many are disabled. Every tenant has lived there for several years, and some have lived there for as long as 40 years. They are all protected by the Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Ordinance, but the landlord has ignored the requirements of this ordinance.”
Under the Los Angeles Municipal Code, a landlord must provide comparable temporary relocation housing if they require tenants to vacate a property for the purposes of renovation under a “Tenant Habitability Plan.” When their landlord refused to do so, the residents of 240 N. Robinson approached Inner City Law Center.
“The complaint provides that the Tenant Habitability Plan documents that their landlord provided to the Housing and Community Investment Department of Los Angeles (HCIDLA) proposed relocating tenants to non-existent housing,” said Philip M. Kelly, Kendall Brill & Kelly partner. “The proposed relocation address for an 80-year-old tenant who had lived in the building for 31 years was the location of a local cemetery. This is clearly in violation of the ordinance.”
HCIDLA ordered the landlord not to proceed with construction until the landlord had corrected the defects. Despite this order, in April 2016, a new corporate owner, Better Real Estate I, LLC (BRE), purchased the building and sought to implement the Tenant Habitability Plan. The new owner launched a campaign to harass and evict the residents in an effort to force them to abandon their rent-controlled tenancies. Between March 2016 and December 2016, BRE and its predecessor filed evictions against half the tenants living in the building.
BRE claims to pride itself on its ability to gentrify neighborhoods by removing low-income tenants from valuable properties. Last year, BRE placed an advertisement at a local bus stop decrying “nightmare tenants” and inviting owners to “cash out.”
“BRE sees us as ‘nightmare tenants’ because we are fighting to make sure our rights are protected,” said Uver Santa Cruz, who has lived in the building for 29 years.
ICLC has partnered with pro bono counsel from Kendall Brill & Kelly to sue BRE to stop the mass eviction of long-term residents from 240 N. Robinson Street and recover damages for the harassment and intimidation they have suffered.
About Inner City Law Center
Inner City Law Center is a non-profit law firm providing legal representation for the most vulnerable individuals and families in Los Angeles who have nowhere else to turn. As the only legal services provider headquartered on Skid Row, ICLC focuses on combating slum housing, preventing homelessness, and aiding homeless veterans. For more information, please visit www.InnerCityLaw.org
About Kendall Brill & Kelly
Kendall Brill & Kelly LLP is a Los Angeles based litigation boutique serving top-tier clients with the depth of legal experience rarely found in a firm its size. At KBK, our attorneys routinely litigate alongside and against the very top firms in Los Angeles and around the country, combining the highest standards of advocacy with a tenacious commitment to achieving the best possible solutions for our clients. As a result, KBK is regularly retained by high-profile clients to perform cutting edge legal work in high-stakes litigation, including entertainment and media litigation, intellectual property litigation, complex commercial litigation, legal malpractice defense, employment litigation, white collar defense, internal corporate investigations, and appellate advocacy. For more information, please visit www.KBKFirm.com