SANTA MONICA—On Wednesday, February 3, the city of Santa Monica announced that the City Attorney’s Office filed a lawsuit against local landlords in the city for violating the city’s eviction moratorium and Tenant Harassment Ordinance.
According to the complaint, since the defendants purchased the 30-unit apartment building in 2017, they have “engaged in a campaign to empty out the building of long-term tenants.” Twenty-three of the thirty units were vacant at the time the complaint was filed, according to Santa Monica Rent Control records. It is further alleged that the defendants engaged in unlawful behavior towards five of the last-remaining tenants, including intimidation, fraud, and attempted evictions without justification.
The named defendants include Hanokh Golshirazian, Youseph Golshirazian, and SoCal Investment Company, LLC, who manage and own the multi-residential property located at 153 San Vicente Boulevard in Santa Monica.
According to the complaint, in August 2020, the defendants informed five rent-controlled tenants that the city approved plans for major repairs and all that remains is for Rent Control to approve the temporary relocation plans for the tenants. The defendants asked the tenants to sign a temporary move out agreement and assured them that they could move back into their units once the repairs were complete. The defendants also indicated in another letter that once the repair work starts, the building would be uninhabitable, and refusal to temporarily relocate would constitute a nuisance.
Attorneys from the city and the Santa Monica Rent Control Board wrote to the defendants indicating that their letters contained multiple misleading and false statements and that the proposed remodeling plans had not been approved, nor were the tenants required by law to be temporarily relocated.
The five tenants refused to relocate due to fear that they may not be allowed to move back in. In November 2020, the defendants filed unlawful detainer actions against the five tenants based on their refusal to temporarily relocate. The tenants then went to court in December 2020 to fight the evictions with legal aid from LAFLA-Santa Monica. The defendants dropped the eviction actions and served the tenants with a Three-Day Notice to Quit.
It is alleged that at the time the complaint was filed at least two of the vacant units were listed on Airbnb.com as vacation rentals. The complaint further alleges that the property was advertised for sale on Loopnet.com, where it stated that “[o]nly five units are currently occupied and Seller is in the process of completing the buy-outs.”
“It is always illegal for landlords to harass or otherwise threaten tenants’ housing security with false or misleading statements. It is even worse when that happens during the middle of a public health and economic crisis,” said George Cardona, Interim City Attorney. “The City will take all appropriate enforcement actions against landlords who violate the City’s tenant protection laws, and help tenants stay housed in their homes.”