Hollister Avenue Apartment Owner Agrees To Tenant Harassment Settlement

Thursday, 3 Jan 2013, 8:52:00 AM

Brenton Garen

The owner of an 18-unit Santa Monica apartment building on Hollister Avenue and its manager have been ordered to pay $12,000 and attend fair housing training after a longtime tenant complained of harassment throughout 2012.

The Santa Monica City Attorney's Consumer Protection Unit announced Thursday it had obtained a court judgment and injunction against local landlord George Bassiry and his manager, Gilbert Rodriguez.

The injunction requires Bassiry and Rodriguez to attend fair housing training and to end direct contact with a longtime tenant who complained of harassment last year.

In addition to the injunction, Bassiry was ordered to pay a combined total of $12,000 to the tenant and the City, including $5,000.00 – the statutory damages provided by law – for the alleged violations.

Bassiry and Rodriguez agreed to the judgment on the same day that the City filed a tenant harassment lawsuit against them.

The City sued Bassiry and Rodriguez in Santa Monica Superior Court on Dec. 20, 2012 alleging that they attempted to get a senior citizen tenant to vacate her longtime rent-controlled apartment, through a series of baseless eviction notices, lawsuits, and threats.

The tenant fought back, getting the Legal Aid Foundation and the pro bono services of the law firm Gibson Dunn & Crutcher to help her defend the evictions.

The tenant, who has lived at the property for 32 years, forced Bassiry to drop all three lawsuits.

Santa Monica law prohibits landlords from inducing rent-controlled tenants to vacate their homes through fraud, intimidation or coercion; as well as through false evictions.

“This case involved a landlord’s campaign of baseless eviction attempts aimed at the tenant. Each lawsuit was dismissed by the landlord as soon as it became clear that the tenant was not going to vacate but fight,” said Deputy City Attorney Gary Rhoades. “While we appreciate the landlord’s cooperation in resolving the case, this is exactly the kind of misconduct the Tenant Harassment law was designed to prevent.”

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