A settlement agreement has been finalized between the Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office and the owners and managers of AZ Shores at 1305 2nd Street in Santa Monica after tenants at the 49 unit complex filed harassment and privacy complaints.
The City Attorney’s office, the City’s Housing Division, Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA), and the law firm of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher spent several months investigating the complaints and working out an agreement with the property’s management company Wilshire Skyline, Inc.
The agreement resolves harassment and privacy complaints filed by several tenants from AZ Shores.
The tenants’ complaints included:
· Harassment and discrimination against Section 8 tenants.
· Failure to accommodate tenants with disabilities.
· Invasion of tenants’ privacy through security cameras.
· Unfair guest policies.
· Commission to managers who persuaded tenants to vacate.
Under the agreement, the management company, Wilshire Skyline, Inc., along with the property owners, agreed to the following:
· Fair Housing: Adoption of a written policy prohibiting discrimination, fair housing training, record keeping, notices to City regarding Section 8 tenants, and parking restored for disabled tenants.
· Tenant Harassment: Adoption of written tenant harassment policy and training. Enhanced penalties ($2,500 instead of $1,000) for the owners’ future violations of Santa Monica’s Tenant Harassment law.
· Reasonable accommodation procedures for Tenants with Disabilities: Adoption of a written procedure. Access for social workers improved. Parking spaces for disabled tenants were restored.
· Privacy: Adoption of new guest policy clarifying tenants’ rights to have guests, access for the City to review use of security cameras, adjustment to the cameras’ line of view to protect privacy, and adoption of policy on limitations of the uses for the security cameras.
· Processing repair requests: Adoption of a written policy and procedure for tenants who need repairs. The policy includes forms, improved response times, and contact information in the event of an emergency.
· Unfair business practices: Prohibition of commissions to employees who persuade tenants to leave, give up their parking spaces, or have vehicles towed. Enhanced relocation notices giving tenants more time to seek legal advice.
· Bed bug remediation: Adoption of clear instructions and written offers for tenants regarding remediation, use of contractors registered with EPA, and notice for tenants with disabilities who may need more help with moving during remediation.
Santa Monica Deputy City Attorney Gary Rhoades said this was a great result for the tenants.
“It covers nearly all aspects of their tenancy,” Rhoades said. “And we believe the privacy terms dealing with security cameras and guests are the first of their kind in the City and probably the county.”
Rhoades said the owners and manager entered into the agreement as a compromise and without admitting liability, fault, or guilt.
“To their credit, the owners and managers began cooperating with us when they learned of the complaints,” Rhoades said. “And so this agreement reflects a great deal of collaborative work by all the parties.”
The City Attorney’s Office, along with LAFLA, will continue to monitor the agreement for a period of 10 years.