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City Wins Injunction in Tenant Harassment Case
By Jorge Casuso
November 27, 2019 -- Two landlords accused of repeatedly parking in a tenant's space, tossing belongings from their storage space and filing a false eviction have agreed to a judgment and court injunction, the City Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday.
The injunction comes after the City's Consumer Protection Division filed claims against Hsing-Ching Hsieh et al in state court under Santa Monica's Tenant Harassment Ordinance.
The landlords -- who claimed it was a case of mistaken identity -- were ordered to pay the City $35,000 in damages and fees, City officials said.
The judge also ordered the defendants to "hire a third-party property management group to manage the apartment building and to pay the legal fees their tenant incurred while fighting the landlords’ unsuccessful eviction attempt," officials said.
Under the injunction, the defendants must pay a minimum penalty of $10,000 for each future violation of the City’s tenant harassment ordinance.
The ordinance -- one of the strictest in the state -- prohibits landlords and managers from engaging in "bad faith" actions against tenants intended to "make them want to move out," the City Attorney's office said.
Such actions include taking away services provided in the lease, refusing to make repairs required by law and entering a unit without proper notice.
Other actions include using lies or intimidation to make a tenant move out, giving an eviction notice based on false charges, intentionally disturbing a tenant's peace and quiet and interfering with a tenant's right to privacy.
Since 2017, the City Attorney's Office has filed 11 complaints alleging tenant harassment or discrimination, officials said.
Five have resulted in stipulated judgments and injunctions, two in settlements, and four cases remain pending.
The Consumer Protection Division and Rent Control will host the sixth annual Landlord/Tenant Forum on Wednesday, December 4, from 9 a.m. to noon at Virginia Avenue Park.
"Participants will get updates on landlord and tenant rights and responsibilities, hot topics at the local and state level, and information from the City’s Code Enforcement Division," City officials said.
Tenants who believe they have witnessed or been subject to unlawful housing discrimination or tenant harassment should contact the City Attorney’s Office at 310-458-8336.
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