For Immediate Release: April 12, 2021
“Tenant Harassment is a pernicious problem that contributes to gentrification, displacement, and homelessness in Los Angeles, and this law represents an important step in the right direction,” said Councilmember Raman. “I would like to thank Councilmember Gil Cedillo for tirelessly spearheading this ordinance through the Housing Committee, and Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson for seconding the original motion. I would also like to extend my deep appreciation to the Housing and Community Investment Department and the City Attorney’s office for lending their considerable expertise on this issue.”
“The amendments I am offering are to ensure that the law reflects the many forms of harassment that our office regularly hears about from tenants and tenants groups, and that the proscribed remedies are sufficient to ensure adequate legal representation and deter such unlawful behavior from occurring in the first place.”
Among the proposed amendments are additional key definitions of tenant harassment, including offers of cash buyouts that are accompanied by threats or intimidation (Amendment 3) and threats to report false information to government agencies like law enforcement or child protective services (Amendment 4). Both acts are among those documented most frequently by tenants rights organizations and within complaints to the Housing and Community Investment Department, and including them within this ordinance’s definition of tenant harassment is vital to its success.
Additional proposals include a broader definition of standing that would allow nonprofit organizations to stand in for tenants in filing civil suits (Amendment 6), as well as the requirement that remedies such as compensatory damages and reasonable attorney’s fees be mandatory should a tenant prevail in court (Amendment 7). By providing mechanisms through which low-income tenants can secure legal representation, these proposed changes allow vulnerable tenants to more effectively exercise their new legal rights.
Finally, Councilmember Raman has proposed a rent adjustment penalty (Amendments 11, 12), in which units made vacant though a violation of the new ordinance can only be rented at the lawful rent in effect at the time of vacancy. Longtime tenants of rent-stabilized apartments are the most common victims of tenant harassment due to state laws that allow for rents to be raised to market rate when a vacancy occurs. By imposing this penalty, the ordinance would directly disincentivize this kind of unlawful behavior.