SANTA MONICA—Santa Monica landlords Hsing-Chin Hsieh and Hsieh- Shuyu Xu agreed to a judgment and court ordered injunction on Monday, November 18 after the City Attorney’s Office filed claims against them under the City’s Tenant Harassment Ordinance. The ordinance was put into effect in 2015 after the city of Santa Monica experienced reported instances of residential landlords and building managers entering local tenants’ units without legal justification to harass them or extend their entries beyond their proper scope.
Defendants Hsing-Chin and Hsieh- Shuyu committed unlawful harassment when they attempted to evict a rent-controlled tenant and his family out of their two bedroom and three bathroom home without justification. Their intimidation tactics included raiding the tenants’ storage space to dispose of personal belongings and parking in the tenants’ vehicle space at the rent- controlled property. According to court documents, the defendants claimed that raiding the tenants’ storage space was a case of mistaken identity.
The defendants filed an eviction case against the tenant that was quickly dismissed. In a justified eviction in the State of California, a landlord must serve the tenant in question a written notice of eviction, file the eviction complaint with the corresponding county court, and serve the official eviction court documents to the tenant. The tenant is able to decide if their response to the eviction will be filed with the serving court or to the landlord evicting them. Only after this process is satisfied is an eviction trial possible.
Defendants Hsing-Chin and Hsieh-Shuyu were ordered by Superior Court Judge Mark Young to pay $35,000 in damages and fees and a hire a third-party property management group to manage the apartment building. The defendants were ordered to pay legal fees their tenant(s) incurred while fighting the landlords’ eviction attempt.
Future violations of the City’s Tenant Harassment Ordinance will subject the defendants to a minimum penalty of $10,000 per violation. Examples of harassment violations Santa Monica law prohibits are:
- Taking away services provided in the lease (such as parking or laundry)
- Entering the apartment without proper notice
- Using lies or intimidation intended to threaten a tenant to move out
- Giving a “three-day notice” or other eviction notice that’s based on false charges
- Refusing to do repairs that are required by law
- Intentionally disturbing a tenant’s peace and quiet
- Interfering with a tenant’s right to privacy
If a tenant suspects they have been a witness to, or been the subject of unlawful housing discrimination or tenant harassment, contact the City Attorney’s Office at (310) 458-8336. The City’s Code Enforcement Division and the City Attorney’s Office investigate violations of City and State fair housing laws. The City Attorney’s Office cannot represent individual tenants in legal matters due to the fact that the City Attorney’s Office files enforcement actions on behalf of the city and the People of the State of California.