July 20, 2022 12:28 PM
The Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office Public Rights Division has obtained a stipulated judgment and injunction against a local landlord in a lawsuit where the City alleged the landlord attempted a wrongful eviction against a family in a rent-controlled apartment home. Last April, the City filed a lawsuit alleging that the landlord used fraudulent and coercive tactics to attempt to force a family to leave their home after the tenants asked for repairs and maintenance work. Only after the tenants vacated did the landlord make the requested repairs and remodel the apartment, subsequently listing the unit for a much higher rent.
“Protecting tenants’ rights is a fundamental part of what we do,” said City Attorney Douglas Sloan. “We expect both landlords and tenants to play by the rules, and when landlords abuse their position, the City’s Tenant Harassment Ordinance ensures accountability.”
The lawsuit alleged that the landlord’s misconduct included:
- Using delay tactics in responding to tenants’ repeated requests for repairs to address lack of hot water, black wastewater in the bathroom, broken outside lighting, and a fly infestation.
- When tenants sought to correct a rent payment issue, the property manager told them to wait to pay and refused to answer questions about how to pay. The landlord then brought an eviction lawsuit without providing the legally required eviction notice.
- Refusing to provide their contact information, as required by law, so the tenants could not reach them when the property manager told them to wait to pay their rent and did not answer their questions about how and whom to pay.
The judgment, signed by the parties and approved by Judge H. Jay Ford, III, includes the following terms and requirements for the defendants Ross Vaisburd, Empresa Real Alta California LLC, 848 18th Street LLC, Rolana Serebryanaya, and Rolana Serebryanaya’s Trust.
- Payment of $65,000 to the City for tenants’ restitution and City’s costs and fees.
- Attending property management training in 2022 and 2023.
- Reporting all eviction notices and lawsuits in Santa Monica to the Public Rights Division of the City Attorney’s Office for one year following the stipulation to the judgment.
- Providing City-approved disclosures meeting state law requirements to all tenants in Santa Monica properties.
In agreeing to the stipulated judgment, the defendants did not admit to any wrongdoing.
The City’s Tenant Harassment Ordinance prohibits a landlord from trying to influence tenants to vacate through fraud, intimidation, or coercion, and from attempting evictions that are untenable under the law and facts of the case. Any questions or complaints should be directed to the Public Rights Division at (310) 458-8336.
Acting Public Information Coordinator