Rent Control is Cracking Down on Inspections
If you are a landlord in Los Angeles you are likely family with the Systematic Code Enforcement Program (SCEP). SCEP is a program through the Los Angeles Housing Department (LAHD) that department that oversees rent control. Once every 2-4 years inspectors go out and inspect rent controlled units in Los Angeles City. Rent controlled units are those built pre-1978. As you can imagine there is usually something the SCEP inspector finds given the buildings are 45+ years old.
After an inspection an owner receives a Notice of Order to Comply, outlining any deficiencies they found, the level of severity and a date in which the landlord must get in compliance, typically 30-35 days out from the notice. LA City tracks the number of inspections and for what reason the inspections are for, such as SCEP or complaint.
Los Angeles City Council has announced that they will be beefing up their SCEP program and their complaint-based inspection program by imposing harsher penalties on landlords.
Some of the contemplated changes would be:
Removing or reducing inspector's power to give landlords extensions for repairs.
Create a petition process so that tenants can seek rent reduction to "incentivize" landlords to make repairs.
Change the Tenant Habitability Plan requirement for the permitting process with LADBS so that temporary relocation is flagged more often.
The main punishment for landlords who fail to make repairs is the REAP program. Under REAP tenants pay a significantly reduced rent into an escrow account that is not turned over to the landlord until all repairs are completed. You can watch my video on REAP with fellow attorney Andy Baker here.
If you ever get a notice of General Manager's hearing (the first step towards REAP) you should call an attorney familiar with the process. The hearings are not landlord friendly.
Anticipating the increased crack down on landlords, it would be a good idea to do routine inspections of your properties and check for any obvious issues that are often flagged by the SCEP program. You can read LAHD's article on common violations they cite. You can also watch my video here on 5 Vital Things to Check on Your Property.
Baby steps as they say. Being a residential landlord in Los Angeles is management intensive. But it is possible. Getting a head start to find possible issues gives you a chance to budget and plan more on your terms.
Keep Informed! So here are some free things you can do to get informed sign of for the newsletter below.
The information in this post is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this post should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.