LA County Le Taun J. Cotton was notified of illegal tenant buyouts

Los Angeles- Public records show that the LA County was notified of illegal cash buyouts occurring in the city of Los Angeles, but the county took no action against unscrupulous landlords.

[The email below has been redacted from the original eight page email.]

Response to Letter from Le Taun J. Cotton at County of Los Angeles Public Health re Hi point Apts at 90035 and Liability by County under GC 815.6 for Lack of Health and Safety

[from tenant name and email redacted]

Tue 3/1/2016 5:04 PM

To:phinfo@ph.lacounty.gov ; Udo Nwachuku ; George Cerda ;

Cc:RSO Contact ; LAHD RSO ; councilmember.wesson@lacity.org ; Rep. Karen Bass <113- ca37kb.inbox@mail.house.gov>; Rep. Karen Bass ; Fair Housing Doj ; Hi Point Apts LLC Agent C. Renfrew ; Agent Walter Barratt Hi Point Apts LLC ; Lorrie Sakauchi Hi Point Apts LLC Manager ; Alan Chen ; Justice Department ; Larry Galstian ; sylvia.lacy@lacity.org ; David Greene ; Richard Brinson ; Leila Ajalova ; Charles Garcia ; raymond.chan@lacity.org ; lauren.lastrapes@mail.house.gov ; David Casian ; deron.williams@lacity.org ; Steve Ongele ; Lincoln Lee ; Ifa Kashefi ; steve.davey@lacity.org ; mayor.garcetti@lacity.org ; giovani.dacumos@lacity.org ; Karen Penera ; Rodney Arias ; kimani.black@lacity.org ; Malika Ibrahim ; vincent.burditt@lacity.org ; Charles Floyd ; Ambassador Charles Linder Floyd ;

 Mr. Cotton: Where are the THP’s? 

To Whom It May Concern/Cotton via facsimile 626-813-3000

 I wrote via email December 17 2015 at 11:15 p.m.: 

“Your email collaboration with your supervisors incorrectly supports the pattern and practice that you feel you have the authority to deny your enforcement obligations under Health and Safety code 17920.3 “Substandard Housing” and Civil Code 1941.1. Your position is that the owner of the property does not have to comply with H & S code 17920.3 because that is what you feel the city government said. I disagree. ”

I wrote via email on November 8 2015 at 2:06 pm: 

* Carbon monoxide fumes within 20 feet of the outside of the building * Asbestos/lead testing not done and lack of safe work practices* Bed bugs

I wrote on Oct 22 2015 at 7:05 p.m.: 

“For apartments 5, 8, 15, 18, 10, 1, 6, 11 there are No THP’s                                                                  No mold inspection
No environmental impact report
No asbestos report

No lead report
Please investigate and let me know your findings.”

My further response to the Cotton February 11 letter : 

1. The February 11 2016 letter from Cotton claims that he inspected apts 15 and 18 on February 10. Cotton does not indicate why he did not inspect my apartment #9 or apartment #5 or #8. He does not indicate was apt 18 inspected for mold and asbestos and lead or is there is an inspection report on file, which city employee Charles Garcia indicated there would not be one on file, unless Cotton is calling Garcia a liar. The tenants of apt 9 are both African American and do not have a working intercom. The tenants of apt 15 and 18 are African American/Asian and African American/

2. “…rental agreements regarding units lacking a certificate of occupancy are unlawful, their enforcement by tenants is subject to the principles that we have explained.” Carter v Cohen. 188 Cal.App.4th 1038 (2010) 116 Cal. Rptr. 3d 303 

3. Illegality
If a rental unit is illegal, under California case law, any lease of that unit is deemed an illegal contract and is automatically void. As a direct consequence, the landlord is not entitled to collect any rent. A dwelling is illegal if it is situated within a municipality that prohibits the use or occupation of a building without a Certificate of Occupancy and does not have a Certificate, or if it has a Certificate that does not precisely match the building in its current state. This might happen if, for example, the landlord subsequently carries out construction without the applicable permits.

Consequences 

Landlords of illegal units can evict tenants who refuse to pay rent by taking the same action as landlords of compliant units. However, they cannot claim past due rent. In rent-controlled areas where the tenant is entitled to relocation assistance, the money remains due even if the property is illegal. The tenant can also file a claim against the landlord for the return of previously paid rent. The caveat is if the tenant is herself at equal fault, for example, because she knew about the requirement for a Certificate of Occupancy and was aware that the landlord didn’t have one when she signed the lease. http://homeguides.sfgate.com/can-lease- void-certificate- occupancy-not-present-86894.html

I request that the County within five days provide me with a copy of the CFO certificate of occupancy for Hi Point Apts, and/or any other city document that attests that the building meets all health and safety codes, the CFO as amended (sic), subject to request for court declarative and injunctive relief.

The County has not met its enforcement obligations under Health and Safety code 17920.3 “Substandard Housing” and Civil Code 1941.1. GC section 815.6.

The Cotton letter omits the status of the 1522 Hi Point St building permits prior to my complaints about the lack of permits.

While Cotton, and other in the county Public Health department has the authority to resign their positions for lack of due diligence, they do not have the authority to ignore the Los Angeles Municipal Code which mandates that no permits can issue without the required tenant habitability plan (“THP”). There is no THP for apt 18 therefore no permits should have issued thus no rent can be collected [from any tenant in the building].

On Feb 10, during your inspection Mr. Cotton, did you perform your due diligence and inspect the intercom system in all apartments?

City employee Charles Garcia has stated that out of about 13 apartment tenants who were entitled to the financial benefits of the THP process, only apt 9 has received the THP. Twelve tenants have not received the THP, nine are no longer tenants. What are you going to do about the tenants Mr Cotton, absent the illegal permits, that did not receive the THP? You don’t have the authority to ignore the THP Mr. Cotton.

Health and Safety Code 17960. The building department of every city or county shall  enforce within its jurisdiction all the provisions published in the

State Building Standards Code, the provisions of this part, and the

other rules and regulations promulgated pursuant to the provisions of

this part pertaining to the erection, construction, reconstruction,

movement, enlargement, conversion, alteration, repair, removal,

demolition, or arrangement of apartment houses, hotels, or dwellings.

17960.10.  The building department, housing department, or health

department enforcing any of the provisions of this part may develop a

list of public or publicly funded private agencies that finance or

assist residential rehabilitation or repair activities for real

property owners or renters.

CCC Section 1942.4.

“(a) A landlord of a dwelling may not demand rent, collect rent,

issue a notice of a rent increase, or issue a three-day notice to

pay rent or quit pursuant to subdivision (2) of Section 1161 of

the Code of Civil Procedure, if all of the following conditions exist

prior to the landlord’s demand or notice…”

* CCC Section 1941.1. (a) A dwelling shall be deemed untenantable

for purposes of Section 1941 if it substantially lacks any of the

following affirmative standard characteristics or is a residential unit  described in Section 17920.3 or 17920.10 of the Health and Safety Code:

I have briefly examined the permits for this building but have not completed my investigation. For the sake of apt 18 only, and not waiving any rights to ascertain proper permits for other units or the risk of injury to myself, the newest tenant moved into apt 18 around December 24 2015. As indicated in previous communications to city code enforcement, proper permits did not exist for apt 18. As the tenant moved in December 24, 2015, and the permits are now showing as final for February 1, Feb 2, and Feb 3, the tenant therefore moved into a unit that did not have the permits and certificate of occupancy until February 2016. Don’t you agree Mr. Cotton that the codes and ordinances has been violated here? In fact, around November 2015 I was told that apt 18 was ready for occupancy as told to the Los Angeles City government. This was also a knowing false representation by city government and the property owner since apt 18 did not become ready for occupancy until Feb 2016.

The letter of Cotton appears to misquote my email of December 21 2015, re apt 15,  apt 18 which was entitled:

“Please investigate permits for apt 18 at 1522 Hi Point St – A Matter of Public Interest Health and Safety “excerpt here 

“BLDG ALTER REPAIR PERMIT for apt 18
This permit shows “final” but “partial approval” on Oct 23 2015. Partial as regards the windows and kitchen and bathroom remodel.

Permit 15016-30000-19251. Partial. PLUMBING PERMIT 14042-30000-08909 This permit says “no” as to permit issued. No permit thus no permit approval.
ELECTRICAL PERMIT 15041-30000-13969

This permit refers to apts 1-18 and regards “replace plugs, switches, lights and (1) breaker box.” According to city inspector Richard Schindler there is no record of any inspections, yet he issued a finalized permit on June 19 2015. This permit seems faulty also because (1) the repairs to apt 18 did not start before June 19, in fact they started around September 8 2015 and how could they be finalized before they started and (2) while the permit mentions apts 1-18, in fact, no repairs at all have occurred to apts 5, 8, 9, and 15, so that makes the entire permit process invalid.

No permit thus no permit approval thus no CFO, as amended (sic).

THE OWNER CANNOT DEMAND OR ACCEPT RENTS, NOR CAN THE CITY DIRECT HIM
TO, WHERE THERE IS NO PERMITS/CFO. ”

The letter of Cotton indicates the county conspiracy with the property owner and others liable under CCC 1942.4.

[From Tenant name, address, phone redacted]

Under state government code 815.6, the city code enforcement is liable for not making a reasonable effort to protect myself and other tenants from the risk of injury.     I am still waiting for city employee Charles Garcia to reveal how many tenants across the city were cheated out of THP monies after Garcia told property owners not to serve the THP on eligible tenants; Garcia has refused to reveal the extent of their criminal act and monies $$$$tenants were cheated out of. LA District Attorney Jackie Lacey has been asked to investigate.

 [Editor: this email has been redacted]

In order to cheat hundreds maybe thousands out of THP and Ellis relocation monies, many people have to participate, not only the apartment property owners.

For this to occur for so many years, banks, politicians, DFEH, HUD  have to be involved. No THP’s and Ellis buyouts mean those tenants are still owed money. Below is portions of a letter by LA County to show the partial extent of how many people had knowledge/were involved  in the illegal tenant buyouts that were occurring from 2006 in Los Angeles. Pattern and practice business as usual to injure tenants who are Black, Hispanics, and others.

[Editor: As you read below, keep in mind that the author a County employee has just been told that the permits are for apartments where no renovations have occurred or in the case of apt 18, no THP ever was entered into with the previous tenant. In the case of apt 15, the code enforcement appeared to have given a final on repairs, which can lead to certificate of occupancy for the entire building, but why did the inspector and the County condone give finals to inspection where they knew no THP existed? The same code enforcement that said there were repairs to apt 15 when there were no repairs because apt 15 was occupied at all times. Finally, all these people below are told that an illegal practice of tenant buyouts is occurring and the county takes no action except authorizing it.]

Letter from LA County of Public Health

Cynthia A. Harding, Interim Director; Jeffrey D. Gunzenhauser, Angelo J. Bellomo, Terri S. Williams. Board of Supervisors Hilda L. Solis, Mark Ridley-Thomas, Sheila Kuehl, Don Knabe, Michael D. Antonovich. [names on county letterhead]

February 11, 2016

To: [Tenant name redacted]

“This is in response to your written concerns regarding inhabitable apartment units at 1522 Hi Point St due to lack of proper permits.”

“On February 10, 2016, departmental staff investigated occupied units 15 and 18, and observed no construction or health  code violations. Upon the receipt of concerns with regard to the lack of unapproved building/construction alterations, our office contacts respective agency’s to investigate the matter. In this case, we contacted the Los Angeles City Department of Building and Safety and verified that the permits are valid.”

[Editor: Cotton says that the permits and finals and CFO are valid for an apartment where no repairs have occurred. Sounds like Oakland code enforcement? Tenant apt 15 has since verified that a bathtub leak still remains un repaired. Cotton does not question the construction lack of lead and asbestos cleanup and inspection. Cotton doesn’t question the lack of THP for apt 18 which would certify that lead and asbestos abatement is occurring. Cotton doesn’t question how apt 18 tenants moved in before ,if at all , a CFO was issued. See the response at the beginning of this page.]

“Le Taun J. Cotton

“c: Veronica Bauchman, Bureau Director; David Burkhead, Udo O. Nwachuku, Los Angeles County District Attorney, Richard Jackson”

Request for inspection 1522 Hi Point Street 90035 re Lack of THP’s 

From: [Tenant name and email redacted]

Sent: Thu 10/22/15 7:05 PM

To: lajalova@ph.lacounty.gov (lajalova@ph.lacounty.gov)

Dear Public Health Dept:

Since you mentioned the THP process, please investigate and let me know your findings why out of 18 apartments, minus five that were vacant, why our apt 9 is the only tenant served with a THP.

For apartments 5, 8, 15, 18, 10, 1, 6, 11 there are

No THP’s
No mold inspection
No environmental impact report                                                                                                     No asbestos report
No lead report

Please investigate and let me know your findings.
If you need access to the building contact the owner.

[Tenant at 1522 Hi Point St. Name address phone redacted.]

[Editor: The THP application that should be delivered by the owner to the city and tenant (1) alerts the city government that primary renovations will occur (2) alerts the city of the impact of renovations on other tenants and who is the licensed lead and asbestos contractors, (3)  alerts the rent control stabilization department who has to sign off on the permits and (4) it alerts the tenant to permanent and temporary relocation and monetary benefits. The THP application is a government regulated process and form. Notice that the County Le Taun Cotton ignores the questions in the email re the THP’s for numerous tenants. Where are the THP’s, Mr Cotton?]

 

[Editor: Stay tuned…..]

 

 

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