CITY HALL — A Santa Monica landlord who allegedly claimed she was going out of the rental business and evicted her tenants but then re-leased her units at higher rates, has agreed to pay a total of $120,000 in damages to a former tenant and City Hall.

Under the deal, the landlord, Cheryl Kautzky, is required to pay $100,000 to Edward Vincent, a former tenant who allegedly paid excess rent while living in her building, and $20,000 to City Hall, according to the City Attorney’s Office, which announced the deal on Wednesday.

“We think this is a fair resolution of a difficult case,” said Adam Radinsky, head of the consumer protection unit in the Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office.

The settlement ends two lawsuits, one filed by Vincent and one filed by City Hall.

Kautzky purchased a four-unit Santa Monica rental property in 2000, according to Radinsky. At the time, three of the four units were occupied by tenants paying controlled rents far below market price. In 2001, Kautzky filed papers to “Ellis” the property — a procedure where owners of rent-controlled apartments evict their tenants and go out of the rental business. The rent-controlled tenants were evicted in 2002 under the Ellis Act process, according to the City Attorney’s Office.

Both the lawsuits that were settled Wednesday accused Kautzky and her daughter of unlawfully re-renting apartments at their property at market rates soon after the evictions. Under Santa Monica law, any new tenancies at the Kautzkys’ property should have been subject to rent control with the maximum rent equal to the maximum rent allowed before the Ellis evictions, Radinsky said.

Vincent also alleged the Kautzkys forced him out of his apartment in 2008 by removing all of his belongings while he was away from home and threatening him with bodily harm when he returned. Cheryl Kautzky sold the property in 2009.

The city of Santa Monica’s civil lawsuit against the Kautzkys alleged their actions violated the city’s Tenant Harassment Ordinance. Vincent filed a separate lawsuit alleging he had paid excess rent and been wrongfully evicted, among other claims.

“This case shows that breaking the rental laws does not pay,” Radinsky said. “When landlords go out of the rental business, they need to follow the law. And tenants should know that they have legal rights and can’t simply be thrown out on the street.”

The settlement came as jury selection for the civil trial was underway. Radinsky said most cases involving tenant complaints about unlawful harassment are resolved at an earlier stage.

nickt@www.smdp.com

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