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One Renter's Mediation Story

November 10, 1985

Concurrent with the ending of rent controls in Marina del Rey, Supervisor Deane Dana instituted a mediation process, with the avowed purpose of peaceably settling rent hike differences between tenants and landlords (or lessees, as they are called in the marina). The following is my experience with this process.

In early October, I was involved in a "mediation hearing" with the owner of my apartment. Although I had agreed to a 9% rent increase only last May, the owner was demanding another 9% hike barely five months later. I entered the mediation process expecting to hear the owner's defense of this sudden new increase in rent. I honestly didn't know what to expect from the "hearing," except a reasonable airing of the facts.

During this mediation, I presented what I considered valid evidence of why my present rent was fair payment to the owner. During my 12 1/2 years of residence, my rent has kept ahead of inflation. I have (up to now) never received a rent increase that was not good for at least one year. I presented uncontested proof that the maintenance of the building and its grounds has deteriorated since the present owners took possession of the property. I noted that most of the benefits from Prop. 13 have been absorbed by the owner. . . . Here is the response I received:

First, I was told that since I have so many complaints, I must not like living there and should move. I was handed a list of other apartments to look at. Strangely, the rents were higher than what I was already paying. I was informed (that) "the management had instructions to raise old tenants' rent up to current market levels within one year." I was not thanked for having been a reliable tenant for so long, but, instead, heard about "how much money the owners are losing on you."

I was treated like a cheap bum who was freeloading off of them and the county. The management kindly offered me $1,000 in moving expenses. The issue in this so-called mediation, was not why my rent should be raised, but where I should consider moving. They didn't like my calling my apartment "home" and couldn't think of any rights renters might have except to get screwed by the apartment owners. The mediators seriously offered the suggestion that a "hardship plea" might get me a break. . . . "It's happened before," I was told.

With the situation so one-sided, I "accepted" the additional 9% rent hike in "exchange" for some maintenance work on my apartment. The mediation broke up with the owner's representative suggesting they "all get together on New Year's Eve and celebrate." The mediators felt that "Deane Dana should give us all plaques or something for services." I noticed that no one invited me to the party. I guess they assumed that I wouldn't have a good time.


Marina del Rey

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