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Charging Tenants for Upkeep Violates Law, S.M. Official Says

January 20, 1985

Santa Monica City Atty. Robert M. Myers, in a letter to the Rent Control Board, said that a program allowing landlords to pass on the costs of some maintenance to tenants violates the Rent Control Charter Amendment.

Myers wrote that the program, known as the Interior Replacement Pilot Program, does not contain sufficient safeguards for tenants. Myers said that allowing landlords increases for maintenance provides "double recovery" because of other provisions in the rent law that allow rent increases.

Myers wrote the rent control law in 1978 and voters approved it in 1979.

The Rent Control Board was to vote on the program two weeks ago. The proposal, designed to provide incentives for maintaining apartments, would allow tenants and renters to negotiate rent increases if the landlord agreed to replace such items as drapes and appliances.

But the board postponed the vote after the state Court of Appeal ruled that the board can award rent decreases when landlords fail to maintain apartments. That decision reversed a decision by Santa Monica Superior Court Judge Laurence J. Rittenband that had kept the board from awarding decreases for inadequate maintenance since August, 1983.

The board asked the staff to study whether the program is needed in light of the ruling by the Court of Appeal.

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