Torts Landlord and Tenant

Habitability

Plaintiffs v. Owner X and Y

SETTLEMENT: The case settled after three mediations for $1,047,500

FACTS: The Plaintiffs, 50 adults and 40 minor children, were tenants in a low income apartment complex on Western Avenue in Los Angeles. During the relevant time, the property was owned by Owners X and Y. The Los Angeles Housing Department cited the property for multiple habitability violations including cockroaches and vermin infestation throughout the property. The conditions were allegedly abated by Owner X. Title was then transferred to Owner Y. In the same year, the Housing Department cited the property for multiple violations. Virtually every unit inspected contained the same habitability problems found under the old ownership. Owner Y failed to abate and a Substandard Order was issued.

CONTENTIONS: The tenants alleged they suffered rodent and insect bites, allergies, rashes and other physical symptoms arising from the conditions. The tenants sought damages for physical injury, emotional distress, and restitution of rent, property damage and statutory penalties pursuant to C.C.P. Section 1941.1. Owner X claimed that the conditions during its ownership were adequate and that the citations, which were timely abated, did not affect the health and safety of the tenants. Owner Y claimed that the violations identified on its watch were the result of poor long-term maintenance by Owner X. Both owners also made the standard arguments that the tenants exaggerated the conditions, did not complain about the conditions and their physical injuries lacked healthcare provider corroboration.

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