January 27, 2023 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office Obtains $65,000 Judgment and Injunction Against Landlord in Tenant Harassment Case

In agreeing to the stipulated judgment, the defendants did not admit to any wrongdoing

By Sam Catanzaro

The Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office 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. In agreeing to the stipulated judgment, the defendants did not admit to any wrongdoing.  

The City filed a lawsuit in April 2021 alleging that the defendants – Ross Vaisburd, Empresa Real Alta California LLC, 848 18th Street LLC, Rolana Serebryanaya, and Rolana Serebryanaya’s Trust – 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. 

The lawsuit alleged that the landlord used 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,” the city said in a press release. “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: Attending property management training, 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.  

“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,” the city said.

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