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Injunction Fails to Resolve Dispute Between Landlords, West Hollywood

May 15, 1986

A preliminary injunction issued Monday by a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge has not resolved a dispute between West Hollywood and five landlords over whether the city's Rent Stabilization Commission can conduct hearings on excess-rent cases.

Lawyers for the five landlords went to court in April, seeking a court order to stop the rent commission from hearing any tenant complaints about landlords who demand excessively high rents. In a decision issued two weeks ago, Judge David Rothman precluded the commission from forcing landlords to refund excessive rent payments to their tenants.

But neither that ruling nor an injunction issued on Monday by Rothman has bridged the gap between the city and the landlords who filed the suit.

Attorneys David M. Shell and Craig Mordoh, who are representing the landlords, said the judge's most recent order forbids the city from holding any excess-rent hearings. "The judge was as plain as day," Mordoh said. "The city cannot hold any hearings on excess rent, period."

But City Atty. Michael Jenkins insisted thatthe judge's order forbids the city only from awarding refunds to tenants. "It couldn't be clearer," Jenkins said. "His (Rothman's) ruling has no bearing on the city's power to adjudicate what the correct rent level is for future purposes."

Jenkins said the rent commission will continue to conduct its excess-rent hearings. In response, Shell said that if any of his clients are compelled to attend excess-rent hearings, he will ask for a contempt citation brought against the city.

Said Mordoh: "I think this case is going to be around for awhile."

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