The Stay Housed L.A. program has filed three tenant anti-harassment lawsuits as part of a pilot project with the Los Angeles County Department of Business and Consumer Affairs.

The Los Angeles Superior Court complaints target what the program deems to be egregious cases under the county’s anti-harassment protections, which include permanent safeguards under the county’s rent stabilization ordinance as well as temporary provisions in its COVID-19 tenant protections.

Both the permanent ordinance and the temporary resolution include the ability to assess fees and penalties to landlords who engage in harassing behavior against tenants, according to program organizers.

Advocacy groups that provide educational and legal support to renters across Los Angeles County say they have seen an increase in complaints, which they fear could be on the rise as landlords look for ways to remove tenants who have been unable to pay rent due to economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

Stay Housed L.A. complaints have almost doubled in the past few months compared to April when the program started tracking the grievances.

The filing of the three cases is meant to raise awareness about the anti-harassment protections that are in place and discourage landlords from illegally trying to remove tenants, according to program organizers.

In one lawsuit involving a case in Inglewood, a landlord allegedly has left a tenant without heating since January 2019. Although the tenant has health issues, the landlord not long ago also allegedly shut off the hot water and is trying to evict her because she requested rent relief under the county’s tenant eviction protections.

Stay Housed L.A. is a partnership with Los Angeles County and a coalition of organizations that provide outreach, educational and legal support to tenants across the county.

“Our Housing and Tenant Protections division and Stay Housed L.A. have been working diligently over this past year to ensure that tenants and property owners have access to the tools and resources needed to understand the protections that are in place,” said Rafael Carbajal, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs.

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