Tales of a Landlord: Ripped Off During Moratorium
This article is contributed by Rich Kissel, Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles Member
I want to share this story and some pictures so that other housing will be forewarned and also so that non-landlords will see what we housing providers have been experiencing thanks to the flawed government policy consisting of moratoriums, which have had far too many unintended consequences.
I was posting political signs for the upcoming November 2022 election at my apartment building. A couple of the tenants came home and saw me and had stopped to talk to me. The tenants guessed that I was the owner, and we had a very nice conversation. My tenants are really nice people and are always ready to help or tell me about things that are going on at the building.
My tenants asked about one of my rental units there because they had not seen anyone living in that apartment for a couple of months. They said that they saw the boyfriend move out because one day he saw that he was loading up a truck with his belongings. They told me that they had spoken to my tenant, the girlfriend, and were informed at that time that the boyfriend and she were probably going to break up. I was then told that my tenant, the girlfriend, had stayed in the apartment for a month or so after her boyfriend had left, but they had not seen my tenant or her car for quite a long time. No one had given us, either me or my management company, any notice. We thought that the apartment was still occupied.
So, my tenants just moved out owing me a bunch of money and didn’t let me know. My property manager and I are guessing that the girlfriend had tried to get some rent relief from the state program but did not qualify. The boyfriend had applied to the “Housing is Key” program, but I had not received a check from the program since June, and the check was just in the boyfriend’s name, not hers. So they only owe me $11,000 (that’s 10 month’s rent at $1,100), and unfortunately, it is now my understanding that there is no more money coming.
So now, both of my tenants are gone and no updates are forthcoming from the rent relief program. I called my property manager and we went over to my property to post a “Notice of Abandonment.” My property manager went into the unit, and sure enough, it was abandoned. We took some pictures of the mess the girlfriend had left behind. I cannot do anything about this until October 30, 2022, which is the deadline they have to respond to the posted abandonment notice. I doubt I will ever hear from them again.
So that’s what “we” get. I am owed money, I have to cleanup after our tenant’s squaller, and I get to go in and do another remodel! Oh boy, more money, about a $15,000-$20,000 remodel! At least I will be able to get the rent up to about $2,100 a month. Quite a bargain for a two-bedroom unit, but my units are small. They are well maintained though.
So, now I am down to one tenant in the building who still isn’t paying their rent. He owes $10,307 (that’s 11 month’s of rent rent) and counting. His rent is only $937 per month! My guess is that he too will “milk” us for all he can get, and stay as long as he can after the moratorium is lifted and the backlogs of evictions mount.
So, thanks to State Senator Robert Hertzberg who had co-authored 2022’s Senate Bill 1477, which severely limits wage garnishments by as much as 60%. I will have to sue both of my tenants in small claims court for judgements in order to garnish their wages. As written 20% of their discretionary income might be somewhere around $100 each per month for 55 months! Taking into consideration the cost of attorney’s fees, etc., it just may result in several thousand dollars that isn’t recoverable. My guess is it will cost a lot more than that because each one of the two unmarried couples who parted ways will likely argue that they don’t owe the money, or that one was responsible for the rent, etc. So, for me, this just doesn’t end well!
Thanks again for all your diligence in our cause!