Two Santa Monica landlords will be fined $35,000 after a judge ruled they had harassed their tenants.
The City Attorney’s Office alleged that 1124 15th St. property owners Hsing-Ching Hsieh and Shuyu Xu-Hsieh harassed a tenant by repeatedly parking in their parking space, raiding their storage space and disposing of items and filing an untenable eviction case against the tenant that was quickly dismissed, according to a press release. The office prosecuted the landlords under the city’s tenant harassment ordinance, which prohibits conduct such as entering apartments without notifying the tenant in advance or giving false eviction notices if the conduct is done with the intent to harass.
Deputy City Attorney Gary Rhoades said the harassment happened between August 2018 and May 2019, by which time the City Attorney’s Office had contacted the landlords. They attempted to evict a tenant in October 2018.
Pursuant to the judgment signed by Superior Court Judge Mark Young, the defendants must pay the City $35,000 in damages and fees. Young also ordered the defendants to hire a third-party property management group to manage the apartment building and to pay the legal fees their tenant incurred while fighting the landlords’ unsuccessful eviction attempt. Under the injunction, future violations of the city’s tenant harassment ordinance will subject the defendants to a minimum penalty of $10,000 per violation.
Since 2017, the City Attorney’s Office has filed eleven complaints alleging tenant harassment or discrimination. Five have resulted in stipulated judgments and injunctions, two with settlements, and four cases remain pending.
If you believe that you have been a witness to or been the subject of unlawful housing discrimination or tenant harassment, please contact the City Attorney’s Office at 310-458-8336. The City’s Code Enforcement Division and the City Attorney’s Office investigate violations of city and state fair housing laws. Please be advised that the City Attorney’s Office files enforcement actions on behalf of the city and the people of the state of California; the City Attorney’s Office cannot represent individual tenants in legal matters.
On Wednesday, December 4, 9 a.m. to noon, Rent Control and the Consumer Protection Division will host the sixth annual Landlord/Tenant Forum at Virginia Avenue Park. The forum is part of the city of Santa Monica’s ongoing effort to increase public awareness of how local and state laws impact landlords and tenants. Registration is required.
This story was updated Dec. 4 at 4:20 p.m.