A real estate company that has renovated 30 apartment houses in Hollywood has acceded to the demands of tenants who claim that living conditions were unbearable in their building.
For much of July, water at the Hollywood Biltmore apartments was shut off for eight hours a day, five days a week. The tenants went to court to have the water temporarily turned back on, but Realty Investors and Property Management Inc. argued that a further shut-off was necessary to finish plumbing repairs.
Agreed to Conditions
The tenants, mostly fixed-income senior citizens, filed a lawsuit claiming that Realty Investors was trying to force them to move out so it could attract higher-paying renters.
The suit has yet to go to trial. But Realty Investors has agreed to a preliminary injunction stating that water cannot be turned off for more than two hours a day, for one month. In addition, pool and patio furniture, which had been removed, must be put back.
The injunction, which will be in effect until the trial, also prohibits the company from asking any of the five tenants listed in the suit to move out or offering them money to do so.
"They are basically agreeing to what the law states they must do," said Anna Burns, an attorney for Bet Tzedek Legal Services, which is representing the tenants.
Allan S. Cohen, Realty Investors' attorney, said the company agreed to the preliminary injunction so that renovation work--which had stopped during legal proceedings--could continue. Realty Investors did not admit to any wrongdoing.
When the Century City company took over the Hollywood Biltmore, many of the tenants chose to move out rather than remain during renovation work. The company paid others to leave. Some tenants remained and, of those, five filed suit.
Nicki Frank, president of Realty Investors, said that the Biltmore is being repainted, the pool is being re-tiled and cabanas, awnings and a waterfall are being installed on the grounds.
"Our building's on the way," Frank said. "It's going to be beautiful."
Despite the agreement, tenants said they are still unhappy and will continue their efforts to win damages against Realty Investors.
"They took over here and just harassed everyone in the place," said Samuel Palazzola, 70, a 12-year resident of the Biltmore. "Sure, we want money."