The Santa Monica City Attorney’s Consumer Protection Division has filed two separate lawsuits against landlords alleging violations of local laws protecting tenants against harassment and discrimination.
The first lawsuit, filed in Santa Monica Superior Court, alleges that landlords Cecil McNabb and Kathy Golshani tried to disrupt the already-challenging daily routine of a mother taking care of her severely developmentally disabled daughter. The daughter is quadriplegic with cerebral palsy and epilepsy, and requires special care in the transfer of herself and her wheelchair in a ramp-equipped van. The lawsuit claims the owners tried to force the mother and daughter out of their longtime rent-controlled home by stopping them from using the carport to transfer the daughter to the accessible van. The complaint also alleges that the owner caused the tenant’s hot water to be shut off for four days.
The mother and daughter have lived in the rent controlled apartment building since 1999. The City’s discrimination law requires landlords to provide to tenants reasonable accommodations based on their disabilities.
“Under the fair housing laws, once a tenant gives her landlord medical proof showing that she needs a housing accommodation because of her disability, then the landlord must provide the accommodation,” said Deputy City Attorney Gary Rhoades. Rhoades said it was the third case the office has filed using the discrimination and harassment laws together since January 2015.
In the second lawsuit, filed Friday, March 11, the City Attorney alleges that a local landlord attempted to harass his tenant into vacating her home, by installing video cameras aimed at her apartment. The complaint alleges that the tenant has lived in her rent-controlled Santa Monica apartment since 2012. After the landlord’s first requests that she vacate her apartment were spurned, the complaint alleges that the landlord, Cristofer Garvin, and his attorney, Rosario Perry, turned to other tactics which included falsely accusing the tenant of violating the lease, threatening an eviction, and installing two video cameras aimed at her apartment to further harass her.
The City’s Tenant Harassment law specifically prohibits a landlord from interfering with the privacy of a tenant.
Deputy City Attorney Rhoades said that a tenant’s privacy is destroyed when a landlord turns what are supposed to be security cameras against the tenant. “Tenants often become fearful and anxious over such intrusion,” he said. “They feel spied upon and like they have to duck their head every time they come and go from their own home. Even in the age of surveillance, privacy remains very important especially when it comes to our apartments and homes. Legitimate security is one thing, harassment masquerading as security another.”