Big Win for Los Angeles Landlords: Superior Court Judge Jaffe crushes the LAHD in latest ruling

This is a huge win for those of us in the Los Angeles multifamily real estate market.  See article from the Fair Housing Coalition below.  What are you thoughts on this ruling by Judge Yaffe? -Trevor

The case is Barbara Darwoush vs. City of Los Angeles – 10/06/2011

Los Angeles multifamily real estate market. A recent ruling by Judge Yaffe may lay the groundwork for many lawsuits by discriminated Housing Providers in the city of Los Angeles. The judge effectively stated that the LAHD is overstepping its legislative authority by citing matters relating to building code. In this lawsuit the LAHD wanted a landlord to reduce the amount of legal units from 4 to 2. The judge ruled that the LAHD has no authority telling a landlord how many units his building can legally operate since they do not have this authority under the existing law! As long as the landlord pays the rental registration fees and provides an emergency number the LAHD has no business in judging the amount of legal units a building has.

The basis summary of the ruling is that the LAHD is greatly overstepping its ministerial duties and is not allowed to use provisions of the RSO to cite matters relating to building code.  The only department that can cite matters of the building code is the LADBS (Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety), not the LAHD. The judge’s mandate says that the LAHD cannot cite matters relating to building code since that is not part of the Rent Stabilization Ordinance.  The judge goes even further and says the Building Department itself has adequate enforcement provisions.

“The City does not authorize its Housing Department to use the ministerial provisions of the Rent Stabilization Ordinance to force a landlord to comply with the city’s building code. The building code is to be enforced by utilizing the enforcement provisions contained in that code.”

The judge also added more salt to the open festering wound that is the LAHD. The city contends it can cite illegal units because the authority derives from a memorandum issued by the General Manager of the Building Department and the General Manager of the Housing Department issued to their staffs on December 1, 1999 stating that the Housing Department henceforth will enforce building code provisions as they pertain to multi-family housing.

Here is the Judge’s Response:

The contention has no merit because the two general managers who issued the memorandum do not have the authority to repeal or amend a county ordinance duly adopted by the City Council, the legislative body of the City.

Judge Yaffe is basically stating the LAHD had no authority since December  1, 1999 to cite matters relating to building code.

This is a bombshell ruling! Since that time tens of thousands of properties have been placed into REAP due to supposed building code infractions cited by non-authorized LAHD inspectors. Hundreds of Millions of Dollars have been confiscated from Landlords since December 1, 1999 because of matters relating to building code violations once again cited by non-authorized LAHD inspectors. Thousands of people have lost their properties illegally. The city has confiscated their property with no citing authority that was never law!

The SCEP Inspections run by the LAHD on multi-family properties all cite matters related to building code.  For the past 12 years the LAHD has been doing this illegally. Tens of thousands of properties since that time have been placed into REAP. Hundreds of Millions of Dollars, perhaps Billions of Dollars have been illegally confiscated by the LAHD. We can now say this with a straight face since the Judge basically has mandated what Housing Providers have been saying all along: The LAHD  has no business whatsoever citing building code. Not only should the city be sued for billions, perhaps even individual inspectors should be sued for causing immense amount of pain and suffering to Housing Providers, many of whom have died from the stress caused by the LAHD.

Shouldn’t the city return the money it has stolen over false pretenses over that past 12 years? Imagine all the people who lost their livelihood and property due to the LAHD overstepping its ministerial authority.  They should all be compensated for loss of property, pain and suffering.

This settlement should be in the billions of dollars.