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W. Hollywood's Rent Control Law

August 13, 1989

Again, I write to protest the unfair treatment of landlords (I hate that word) by West Hollywood's onerous rent control law. (The Times, July 13.) Just because a few other cities have similar legislation does not make our law any more fair, equitable or reasonable.

We were absent for a few weeks on a necessary trip to the Midwest, only to return to find that the screws had again been tightened. Fees have been doubled with the owner alone paying for the increase. How can the powers-that-be maintain that these costs are not a business expense, but must be subtracted from the owner's "exorbitant profits"?

Hard on the heels of this injustice comes a list of new fees. Among them are new fees for rent change applications: $25 for tenants but $250 and up for landlords with the landlord required to reimburse all tenants if the tenant succeeds. No remuneration, or course, to landlords for "fishing expeditions" by tenants. Our city fathers and their burgeoning progeny are now killing two birds with one stone; catering to the tenant majority by socking it to the landlords and brazenly raising fees to help balance an engorged city budget.

These fees as well as the loss of normal market rents are most certainly a "taking" of property rights as banned by the Bill of Rights, but these rights seem to have been set aside by our local government in order to protect and curry favor of the tenant majority. Granted, some low income and/or senior citizen tenants need help to provide them with a decent place to live at rents they can afford, but to expect landlords to carry this burden alone instead of the city and the electorate as a whole is ridiculous and totally unfair. This path leads inevitably down the path to socialism and communism.

Also unfair is the penalizing of existing apartment projects by excluding projects from rent control which are built after 1984. This is patently being done so as not to discourage new housing, which the city wants. This exclusion will not work as developers and lenders know that this favoritism could easily end abruptly at the whim of our irresponsible city government.

--RICHARD A. BANTA

West Hollywood

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