One person's failure to get a permit and have their Additional Dwelling Unit up to code has resulted in an 18-month tenant who refuses to leave or cooperate, and the City of Los Angeles breathing down their neck.
He seems like a nice guy trying to do what people do and make a buck on an Airbnb, but being a good doctor doesn't mean you paid attention to California and Los Angeles' stringent laws around housing. These laws are designed to fuck over the tenant until you color outside the lines. Without even realizing the hole he was digging himself into, this uneducated landlord would have painted themselves into a corner, but the tenant has refused to allow them access to do maintenance.
Because she stayed in the unit for six months, she qualified for L.A.'s recently adopted Just Cause Ordinance. It requires a landlord to have a legal reason to evict her, and if there is no legal reason, the landlord is required to pay for relocation assistance for the tenant.
And since the unit still isn't approved for occupancy, Hirschhorn's legal argument is that she shouldn't pay rent — and that she's owed all the rent she paid during her original stay. So she stopped paying.
"As the unit did not have a certificate of occupancy, the maximum allowable rent for the unit was $0.00," Hirschhorn's lawsuit against Jovanovic says.
Gonzalez, the city investigator, also concluded that the unit is subject to L.A.'s Rent Stabilization Ordinance, giving Hirschhorn much stronger tenant protections.
The tenant may not even be doing anything wrong, just making sure the law is applied. It seems like the tenant clearly knew her rights and the landlord was just trying to be a nice person, but didn't lawyer up until too many mistakes were made. As an anecdotal view, having moved back to Los Angeles slightly before the pandemic, I am shocked at how bad the rental housing situation is, and living in a densely multi-family neighborhood it seems good landlords are a rarity. Stories of nightmare tenants are far fewer than those of nightmare landlords.