SoCalGas to Copen Tenants: It’s Up to You!

Here is the message that SoCalGas has for Dr. Stephen Copen’s tenants: “Pay the $1,359 your landlord owes or we’ll shut off your gas.” Helpfully this NOTICE TO TENANTS lets them know that they could take the burden of paying utilities off the landlord’s hands if they assume individual or joint responsibility for the debt. SoCal gas suggests tenants could then deduct the arrears from their rent. Good luck with that!

The shut-off notice should come as no big surprise to any resident in his 12-unit apartment building at 152 South Reeves. Maintenance has never been his priority. Indeed it took a couple of Renters Alliance complaints to code enforcement to prompt him to undertake a recent primp-up at 152. But Renters Alliance can’t get the landlord to pay the gas bill. Looks like it’s up to tenants!

SoCal Gas shutoff notice at 152 Reeves detail

Now, the gas company is an accommodating creditor; SoCal Gas gives Dr. Copen nearly month to pay the arrears — and he can make two easy payments! Or tenants can do it and deduct from the rent which is never a good idea.

If only this landlord bestowed upon his tenants the same grace and forbearance as SoCal gas. We’ve heard cases where he gave his tenants a 3-day notice to pay-or-quit only a day after the rent is due (which is his right to do). That’s a real problem when his tenant thinks she’s in discussions with Copen to resolve the late payment but in the meantime his quick-evict attorney Friedman has headed down to the courthouse to file the unlawful detainer papers.

But you know maybe we’re getting this guy all wrong! We welcome hearing from Copen tenants in any of his Beverly Hills properties. Please get in touch.

  • 152 South Reeves
  • 156 South Reeves / 9415-9421 Charleville
  • 200 South Reeves
  • 201 South Reeves / 9428-9430 Charleville
  • 136 South Roxbury
  • 458-460 South Roxbury

Postscript: A call to SoCalGas made it clear that clearing the arrears is easier said than done. Once past the ridiculous phone menu, the tenant will learn that the arrears cannot be paid by tenants unless they also agree to take responsibility for the account. But non-public account information is needed in order to take that action (the account number is not sufficient). That suggests a call to the landlord: “Can you help us to pay your gas bill?”