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What are my rights as a tenant when my RSO apartment building has No Certificate of Occupancy but is registered w/LAHD?

Los Angeles, CA |

LAHD inspectors have been out numerous times to assess the illegal kitchenettes. After several Not in Compliance reports and several years later, the landlord is now forced to comply and take out our stoves, sinks & cabinets and replace them with a 2 top burner. After reviewing the "Habitability Plan" which states no relocation is offered and the construction to be done 8am-5pm, our belongings to be covered with tarps, loss of utilities for days at a time, we are offered "meal reimbursement & reimbursement for costs."
My issues:
(1) I work from home from 9am-6pm then go to my 2nd job from 8pm-2am
(2) I have a small dog who cannot be around all the construction
(3) The tarps cannot protect my belongings from being covered by lead based paint

Can you explain my rights as a tenant? Please

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Attorney answers 2

Best Answer
Posted

You have the right to contest the "Habitability Plan", though the time may have expired. You should contact the LAHD.

If the LAHD has registered the apartment building and there is no certificate of occupancy, you should contact the LAHD and ask why. They may have accepted approved building permits for habitable housing units in lieu of the Certificate of Occupancy.

Asker

Posted

I've sent in my contested "Habitability Plan" within the 15 days for a hearing. I have the certified: C.O.O, Declaration of Registration & Notice to Comply. Our building is one complaint away from being Red Tagged. The answer to "Why there is no C.O.O.?" It was an oversight until B&S started getting numerous complaints from tenants for a variety of reasons. They realized there was no COO. The construction/Habitability Plan is to change our illegal apartments to "light Housekeeping." Tenants from both buildings are banning together to file a lawsuit. I'm all for it, but the lawyer wants 40% on contingency which I'm ok with. However, he wants 40% of our Relocation money as well? That I do not agree with because it's not an amount he has to negotiate. It is already covered by RSO. I've got evidence of wrong doing and fraud but don't know what to do with it.

Brad S Kane

Brad S Kane

Posted

I have handled many of these cases and the Relocation Assistance is often disputed both in terms of whether any is due and, if so, the amount. Thus, Relocation Assistance is often included in the contingency agreement. Typically, lawyers charge 25% pre-litigation, 331/3% after a lawsuit is filed up to 60 days before the first trial date, then 40% through trial. However, contingency fees are negotiable. Perhaps, you and the other tenants can negotiate the proposed fee with the lawyer.

Asker

Posted

Ha! I tried to negotiate the Attorney fees. His response to my inquiry regarding "Negotiable Attorney Fees" was, "that's my fee. You can go with another attorney if you don't agree with my terms. I have to put "negotiable" in the contract. He's asking 40% if we settle & 50% if we go to trial. All on Contingency. I'm pretty much the one that's not afraid to speak up. Plus, a year ago when I noticed wrong doing on the part of our landlord...I began my own investigation on our property. In my discovery, I found that our buildings have No Certificate of Occupancy, there is a Declaration of Registration with HD, several Notice and Order to Comply, Notice and Order of Abatement. I obtained current certified copies of all.

Brad S Kane

Brad S Kane

Posted

If do not like your attorney or his fees, you can always speak with other attorneys. Sounds like the other tenants will follow your lead.

Asker

Posted

Thank you so much for your advice. I'm meeting with a recommended attorney tomorrow. The other tenants are trying to get me on board, but I want a second opinion. I'm shocked they went to the first suggested attorney? If my meeting tomorrow doesn't go well, I'll be contacting you for council :)

Posted

If the building has no certificate of occupancy, you don't have to pay any rent and you can sue the landlord for disgorgement of previously paid rent as well.

Asker

Posted

Thank you for your response. I obtained certified documentation such as, Certificate of Occupancy, Notice and Order to Comply & Declaration of Registration. There is No C.O.O. it's still listed as a hotel. However, the building is Registered as an Apartment dwelling. My concern is, if I stop paying rent will they start the eviction process? My lease states I'm leasing an "apartment" which is void because it is registered as a hotel. I have an arsenal of evidence but, not sure how to take action?