Residents of an apartment building in the Belmont Shore area of Long Beach were surprised last week by eviction notices giving them just three days to vacate their apartments. Probably not-so-coincidentally, all of the residents who received notices had also recently requested to have their units inspected for traces of mold. As the Long Beach Post reports, the property manager, Entourage Property Management LLC, explained the evictions simply by stating that "health concerns 'may or may not exist,' which 'may or may not' require construction efforts to eliminate them." Well, that seems reasonable.
All this began when one unit in the apartment building was found to be contaminated. After that, concerned neighbors began scheduling inspections of their own. One couple called Entourage to ask about the results of this inspection and were told that no mold was found. Now, they are being forced out of the apartment where they have lived for the last 11 months.
Typically, California state law requires landlords to give tenants between 30 and 60 days of notice when they are being evicted, depending on how long they have occupied the unit. Giving tenants just three days of notice is unusual, and requires serious breaches of contract on the part of occupants. In this case, the property manager says that the units have been damaged by the occupants—a claim that they deny.
This kind of occurrence may seem like a bit of a horror story, but there's evidence to suggest incidents like this aren't all that uncommon in Long Beach. Earlier this month, the Long Beach Post reported on several cases of landlords allegedly retaliating against tenants. One woman had her tires slashed after reporting code violations in her building. Another, Maria Boeker, has had her electricity, water, and gas inexplicably disconnected multiple times. "The people that know the situation say 'this city is the anarchy city,'" she tells the Post. "There’s no laws, there’s no protection for tenants, there’s no protection for anybody."
The city made an attempt to address tenant concerns this past summer, when it passed a measure that stepped up fines for landlords who fail to bring units up to code. Still, local officials stopped short of creating a system similar to the one employed by Los Angeles, in which the city would hold rental payments in escrow until landlords make necessary repairs.
Josh Butler, the director of renter advocacy group Housing Long Beach, tells the Post that the tenants evicted by Entourage have a good chance at lodging a successful legal challenge against the evictions. He says this is partly because of how blatant the retaliation appears to be and partly because the tenants have been working together and have an understanding of their rights in this situation. In other cases, such abuses may never come to light at all.
- A Request for Inspection, Then a Notice To Vacate [Long Beach Post]
- Long Beach Renters Still Falling Through the Cracks Despite Stronger Housing Inspection Program [Long Beach Post]
- With 'deplorable' conditions for some renters, Long Beach debates inspections [LA Times]
- 10 Los Angeles Renters' Rights Your Landlord Doesn't Want You to Know [Curbed LA]