The Santa Monica City Attorney’s office has obtained a preliminary injunction against Ronald Walden, a local landlord, based on allegations that Walden repeatedly entered his tenants’ home without notice or justification. The order, signed by Santa Monica Superior Court judge Lisa Hart Cole on Friday, limits Walden’s access to the house while the case is pending before trial. No trial date has been set.

Walden, who lives in Simi Valley, owns a three-bedroom house on Pacific Street in Santa Monica. He has rented the house out for many years, to various tenants. Typically there have been four or five tenants at a time occupying the three-bedroom house.

The City Attorney’s office filed the tenant harassment lawsuit on April 24, after its investigation revealed numerous complaints by current and former tenants that Walden had committed acts of harassment and discrimination at the property. Among other things, tenants alleged that Walden:

–         Rents exclusively to young women, typically ages 18-25

–         Refuses to allow male visitors to the property

–         Regularly violates the tenants’ privacy by entering the house with no prior notice or legal justification, simply using his key to enter and remaining at the house for long periods of time

Landlord-tenant law in California is clear on the privacy rights of tenants. Even though the landlord owns the property, it is the tenant’s home. The law puts strict limits on when a landlord may enter a tenant’s home: for certain repairs, showings, and emergencies. And even under those situations, a 24-hour advance written notice is required (except in emergencies).

“We hope this injunction helps give the tenants some peace and maintains the status quo until trial,” said Deputy City Attorney Gary Rhoades.

Andrea Cavanaugh, the City Attorney’s Consumer Affairs Specialist, conducted the investigation that led to the filing of the case in court.

The City Attorney’s Office will continue to monitor Walden’s compliance with the injunction as it prepares the case for trial.

—        Submitted by Adam Radinsky