The City Attorney has filed a criminal complaint against the son of Santa Monica’s most notorious landlord.
The City announced Wednesday that it charged Adam Shekhter, Saul Reuben Robin, Edward Jose Valentin and several affiliated companies with tenant harassment, maintaining a public nuisance and violating local zoning laws.
Neil Shekhter bought two rent-controlled properties on Tenth Street (1238 and 1242) more than two years ago and subdivided them into micro-units. The properties have been managed by My Suite, LLC, a new company formed by Neil’s son, Adam.
More than a dozen tenants took buyout offers to leave the 20-unit property since he bought it, according to city records. However, those that have stayed have said building is now being operated as corporate housing rather than as stable, affordable housing for long-term tenants.
The Code Enforcement Division of the City’s Planning & Community Development Department started investigating the case against Adam Shekhter in June 2018 and filed criminal charges against the defendants on Dec. 18, 2018. Shekhter had taken over management of the Tenth Street building and others earlier that year.
The investigation alleges the defendants disobeyed repeated instructions from Code Enforcement, failed to fully pay for tenants to live elsewhere while the building was being renovated and used unlawful tactics – such as illegal buyout and eviction notices – in an attempt to evict tenants.
The investigation also said the defendants had operated group housing without first obtaining required permits from the City. The Tenth Street apartment complex originally had 14 one-bedroom apartments and six two-bedroom apartments, but the website move.com advertised 34 available apartments in the building, some as small as 206 square feet.
“The allegations are unfounded, and we are prepared to vigorously defend against the meritless legal action. Let me emphasize that we are confident that if this case is in fact litigated, and all the facts are established, all parties will be fully vindicated,” said spokesman Eric Rose on behalf of the defendants.
“City prosecutors and enforcement staff will take action when individuals knowingly violate local law for personal financial gain at others’ expense,” Chief Deputy City Attorney Yibin Shen said in a press release.
The City Attorney’s Office encourages any person experiencing similar or related violations to immediately contact the Code Enforcement Division at (310) 458-4984 or visit their website to file a complaint.