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Eviction Measure Approved

March 19, 2003|Jocelyn Y. Stewart | Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve an amendment to the Rent Stabilization Ordinance that prohibits certain evictions when a landlord changes a lease agreement without the consent of the tenant.

"This does not favor tenants, it does not favor landlords, it's just plain common sense," Councilman Eric Garcetti said.

The amendment was the council's response to a citywide trend of landlords' changing lease terms, requiring extensive personal information and imposing an 18-point list of regulations that tenant attorneys called unconscionable and unreasonable. Landlords said the lease changes helped them regulate and maintain order in their buildings.

When tenants failed to supply the information or could not abide by the new terms of the lease, they faced eviction. Sometimes referred to as "the landlord's solution," such changes were often imposed on tenants who lived in rent-controlled units, and were protected from other types of evictions.

Councilwoman Wendy Greuel, who introduced the motion for the amendment with Garcetti, said that under a changed lease, a landlord could restrict what color curtains a tenant could hang -- then evict those who failed to abide.

"It really has created enormous problems," she said, "and we want to close that loophole."

The amendment had been opposed by Dennis P. Block, a landlord attorney who argued that the changes were permissible under the law. Block maintained that a landlord has a right to request certain information and to impose regulations. The Apartment Assn. of Greater Los Angeles also opposed the amendment, saying it violated property owners' civil rights.

Under the amendment, the owner can evict a tenant for violating new lease agreements only if the tenant has agreed in writing to the new provisions. Written approval is not needed if the change is permitted or required under federal, state or local law.

The amendment requires the mayor's signature.

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