My apartment door won’t close and lock. This leaves me concerned for my safety and the security of my belongings.

I have made many attempts to have my landlord fix this issue. No luck. Perplexing, as a landlord, isn’t there some responsibility to resolve this issue in some timely fashion? I was sure he would be concerned about my safety and security.

A month later, I am losing my faith in his commitment to my safety.

Now, as a Santa Monica resident, and my knowledge of their boasting “of a city concerned about tenants and protecting tenant rights”, I contacted Santa Monica Rent Control. Time to call in the professionals.

Unknown to me, I called the wrong department. Rent Control referred me to Santa Monica Code Compliance. “They handle issues related to this”.

Super! Hello Code Compliance. What? What’s that? Your department doesn’t handle this? Los Angeles County Department of Public Health? (Strange) But I live in Santa Monica. Ok..ok…I’ll call them.

Moments later I’m speaking to the LA County Department of Public Health. Yes ma’am, I was told to contact you by Santa Monica Code Compliance. I explained the trouble. What? After explaining to me “that I have a Safety issue in my Building” I was then instructed that I need to call Santa Monica Building and Safety.

Hmmmmm … makes sense.

Hello, Building and Safety. I have a problem with my door. WHAT? But I already talked to Code Compliance. But… But…

Now, my momma didn’t raise no fool. I’m starting to feel like no ones got my back. What about that stuff about protecting tenants?

Time to speak with one of my city representatives, or better yet, the mayor. You see, I’m the CEO of a small corporation, located in Santa Monica, The buck stops with me. Maybe so with the mayor.

Surprise! “You can not speak to the mayor.” Ms Haily, of the City Managers office, explained to me. My repeated requests met the same reply, however she said she would make some phone calls and get back to me. Finally!,

Guess what … she had me contact Code Compliance. This time she even had a contact, Mr. Tejeda. Now we are getting somewhere.

The following day Mr. Tejeda told me he would be able to come out sometime next week. Really? Next week sometime? But my door … ok … please, as early as possible.

Wednesday (yesterday) I called Mr. Tejeda to follow up and traded a few voicemails. Today we finally spoke. Turns out he stopped by, the day before, while I was at work. He didn’t see a problem. He told me I’m going to have to contact the LA County Dept of Public Health.

After a major freak-out, and another call to Ms. Haily, Mr. Tejeda reluctantly agreed to come see the problem. He and his colleague arrived a short time later.

(Note to self. Going over an employees head results in an angry employee at your door.)

After a long discussion, Mr. Tejeda and Mr. Galindo informed me that “there is no code that requires a working door”, “in fact, there isn’t even a code that requires a door at all”
Hmmmmm … silly me.

They left.

Now, if I’m anything, I’m persistent.

Back to Ms. Haily with the City Manager’s office, to no avail. Then I tried the mayor’s office. “No, you may not speak to the mayor. She is not interested in your problem.”

There goes my vote!

I was then directed to speak with the City Attorneys Office. I reached Ms. Rodrigues. She doesn’t understand why I was told to contact her. She will get back to me in the near future.

Tonight, again, I go to bed with a door that will not close and lock. Another restless night. I wonder, does anyone reading this lock their doors at night before sleep?

Thanks for reading. You might call this the CliffsNotes version. Writing every detail may cause me to jump off the end of the Pier.

Tenant Troubles … who has your back?

Editor’s Note: The Daily Press has chosen to withhold the author’s name to protect his safety and property due to the lack of security in his home.

Join the Conversation


  1. This is horrible- surprised no one suggested he handle the repair or replacement himself and deduct it from his rent. A letter to the owner saying he is going to do that after repeated requests might do it.
    Good luck.. this is terrible.

  2. This is utterly disgusting! Especially in a city like Santa Monica that is known – well, used to be known – for honoring its citizens. The ‘red tape’ in the area is absolutely horrendous – been there, done that for my own area issues.

  3. “Dizzying Disarray” is an unbelievable story. It’s time to hire an attorney to deal with the landlord. But it seems the writer, after several attempts to have the landlord deal with the safety issue, should be able, legally, to have the problem fixed on his/ her own and deduct the cost from the rent. Provide the landlord with before and after pictures and the receipt for the repair. No one should have to live that way.

  4. Is this really happening in Santa Monica, California?? This is a very wealthy city with many resources. I’ve gone there many times. Even with its wealth, I still had things stolen there…from a store. Imagine what could be done to an unlocked home. You live in a rich city, there might be a lot of resources. Hire an attorney or something. Maybe look around at nonprofits. I don’t know that much about tenant rights, but I’ve learned some from this site:

  5. This person’s attempts to remedy his problem is ridiculous. Why take a broken front door issue to the City level? What a waste of taxpayer money when it’s clearly a dispute between the landlord and this tenant.

    He could of clearly had it fixed and withheld the charge from the rent IF it was a legitimate charge that the landlord would normally be responsible for. But maybe it wasn’t? Maybe he caused the damage to the door himself. Something is not being told here. This story is a waste of our time.

    Stop blaming the City of SM for a personal grievance with your landlord.

  6. Here is some basic advice from Nolo Press, a publishing house run by lawyers publishing how-to books for non-lawyers. Better yet, since you are a CEO, consult an attorney who specializes in tenant representation for an hour’s time to double-check the code section cited and be sure that this is correct, up-to-date advice :
    “How to Make Repairs and Deduct the Cost (“Repair and Deduct”)
    “Another powerful legal remedy under state law (Civil Code § 1941.1-1942.5) for getting a landlord to make major repairs in California is called “repair and deduct.” It works like this: If you have tried and failed to get your landlord to fix a serious defect that makes your rental unit unfit, you can hire a repairperson to fix it (or buy a replacement part and do it yourself), and subtract the cost from the following month’s rent. Certain conditions apply:

    “You can’t spend more than one month’s rent.
    You can’t use the repair and deduct remedy more than twice in any 12-month period.
    You can’t have caused the problem, and it can’t be something that is your responsibility (such as taking out the garbage).
    “As with rent withholding, notify the landlord first and give him or her a reasonable amount of time to fix the problem before make repairs. Also, gather bids and collect pricing information before you hire someone, especially if the problem requires expertise, as would be the case with a major plumbing or electrical defect.”

    You can google “repair and deduct, California law” to get more information.
    Then you should go to the next City Council meeting, sign a speaker’s card to speak during the “public comment” part of the meeting, and read your saga to the sitting council members, who have no choice but to sit there and hear you speak, even though they are not obligated to do anything. Meanwhile folks at home will also hear and see you on T.V. and may have similar concerns that could learn from your persistence. The city is full of employees eager to collect their salaries and pensions but play it safe and pass the buck to some other department- or even some other government (the county?!!) when a tough problem comes up.

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