‘Fit for Human Habitation’ is Too Low a Habitability Standard

Beverly Hills needs a local habitability standard! Today the city defaults to the state law’s requirement: residential must be fit for human habitation. That is a low bar and most landlords meet it. But some problem landlords fail to maintain their property and then pocket the savings as profit. Case in point: 421 South Maple Drive in Beverly Hills. From the outside it is appealing to an apartment shopper. But poor conditions inside were a reminder that we hold very low expectations for the state of rental housing in Beverly Hills — and some landlords even fail to meet them.

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Courier Gets It Wrong: Relocation Fees Would Fall, Not Rise

Again the Beverly Hills Courier gets it wrong. A recent report says the Rent Stabilization Commission’s recommended change to Beverly Hills relocation fees would result in higher compensation for most tenants. Not true: nine out of ten households would receive a lower fee — as much as several thousand dollars less — while some households would see their compensation further slashed if they rent from a ‘mom-and-pop’ landlord. We try to correct the record with this letter to the editor but the “Newspaper of Record for Beverly Hills” declined to print it.

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RSO Basics and Updates Webinar: Our Review

Beverly Hills rent stabilization division this week hosted a webinar Q&A titled RSO Basics and Updates. It is the latest virtual ‘training’ on tenant and landlord responsibilities. Helen Morales, deputy director of the rent stabilization division, walked through the basics: history of the rent stabilization ordinance, reasons for no-fault termination, the city’s moratorium and more. Dry stuff mostly, but there are a few nuggets to highlight before we render our verdict.

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Governor Gavin Newsom Must Not Be Recalled

On September 14th voters will answer the question that could change the direction of the Golden State: Should we recall Governor Gavin Newsom? For those of us who rent housing the answer is NO. This governor has been there for us. He signed legislation to extend rent control throughout the state and wrangled the legislature to send to his desk not only one eviction moratorium but three of them. Whatever one thinks of masks and mandates it seems clear that the governor has put public health at the forefront of the state’s response to the pandemic. In my book that alone is a ground to oppose a recall.

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AB 889: More Transparency on Rental Housing Providers

Assembly Bill 889 introduced by Assemblymember Gipson in February would require landlords who hold rental property in the name of a corporation or limited liability company to identify the beneficial owners to the California Secretary of State. Renters Alliance supports full disclosure of ownership interests and so does Beverly Hills: the city’s legislative liaison committee agreed to support the bill in Sacramento. Let’s take a look at AB 889 and why we support it.

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The Challenge of Holding a Nuisance Landlord to Account

State law says that a tenant who is “maintaining, committing, or permitting the maintenance or commission of a nuisance” on the premises has effectively terminated his lease. The landlord can petition the court for restitution of possession of the premises upon serving the tenant only a 3-day notice. It is an effective means of dealing with the nuisance and preserving the quiet enjoyment of the premises for both landlord and other tenants. But no provision in state law protects tenants when it is the landlord himself who is the nuisance!

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David Hockney’s ‘A Neat Lawn’: Local Apartment Captured in an Iconic Image

British artist David Hockney painted A Neat Lawn in 1967 shortly after moving to Los Angeles with boyfriend Peter Schlesinger. They were slumming nearby just off Pico Boulevard. It was “the worst place we lived in,” Hockney has said. Yet this period in the late 1960s was among Hockney’s most productive. Among his greatest works was this one that flattened the Southern California domestic landscape (and lifestyle) into an amalgam of colored bands. Hockney didn’t need to look far for his inspiration, though, as the pictured property, 1033 South Bedford, is only blocks from Pico. What can we take-away from A Neat Lawn?

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The Wheels Have Fallen Off the Rent Stabilization Commission

On the Rent Stabilization Commission’s March 3rd agenda was action item: relocation fees. Commissioners had earlier reached consensus on reducing the relocation fee but this fourth round of discussion was to nail down the many details yet to be decided. Just three minutes into the meeting, though, after the pledge and roll call, it came to an abrupt end. No business could be done because no tenant representative was on hand. This was the moment when the wheels finally came off.

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Term Limits for Beverly Hills: Why the Hurry?

Beverly Hills city councilmember John Mirisch has stood out as a champion of new ideas. He wants the city to provide land so that nonprofits can build senior housing. He wants developers to set aside one in every five new dwelling units as permanently affordable. He favors city hall transparency and disfavors city hall inefficiency. He will always hold Metro’s feet to the fire. So why do his fellow councilmembers want to kick him off the island?

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Stephen Copen Lays Down the Law: “Get off My Lawn!”

Let it be known that Beverly Hills landlord Stephen Copen threatened to call the cops on ‘Little Guy,’ an unprepossessing Shepherd-Chihuhua senior who has a penchant for sniffing lawns up and down Reeves Drive. His offense late on Saturday night: trespassing on Copen’s lawn at #152. Little Guy was guilty. And this wasn’t his first offense. So Copen’s phone came out and Little Guy and I had to make a getaway. But not before a frank exchange of views!

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