FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Gary Rhoades, Deputy City Attorney, Consumer Protection Division
Santa Monica City Attorney's Office
The Santa Monica City Attorney's Consumer Protection Division has filed a lawsuit against the owner and property managers of a Santa Monica apartment building alleging violations of the City's Housing Anti-Discrimination Ordinance and the Tenant Harassment Ordinance.
According to the lawsuit filed today in Santa Monica Superior Court, the owners have given notice that they are taking away the parking spaces of two tenants with disabilities and forcing them to share a tandem parking space. The tenants are not roommates. With the assistance of the Consumer Protection Division, both tenants provided the landlords with medical documentation showing that due to the nature of the disabilities, they each needed an unshared parking space close to their units. The lawsuit alleges that despite the documentation and the reasonableness of the parking request, the landlord refused to restore the tenants' parking. The complaint also alleges that both tenants had fought just last year to keep their parking from being taken away altogether.
The lawsuit identifies the landlords as Ben Leeds (doing business as Ben Leeds Property Management), Fidel Alonso, and Crenshaw Two, LLC. The two tenants have lived in the building since 1982 and 1995, respectively. The case is the second one to be filed under the City's new ordinance amendment protecting tenants with disabilities from housing discrimination. The City's Housing Anti-Discrimination Ordinance, as amended on November 28, 2014, requires landlords to provide to tenants reasonable accommodations based on their disabilities.
Deputy City Attorney Gary Rhoades said the complaint also alleges that the City Attorney's office attempted several times to resolve the matter informally by presenting the tenants' medical documentation to the landlords. "Under the fair housing laws, once a tenant presents medical documentation showing that she needs a housing accommodation because of her disability, then the landlord must provide the accommodation," said Rhoades. "The only exception is if providing the accommodation creates a new hardship, but in these parking cases it's very difficult to show hardship because it's the landlord who is attempting to change the parking."