Two foreign nationals are suing a Beverly Hills property owner, alleging they are owed $380,000 in rent reimbursement for a Beverly Hills mansion after coronavirus-related travel restrictions prevented them and a third person from traveling to the U.S. in June.
Saule Bektayeva of Kazakhstan and Darina Denisov of Russia brought the complaint Wednesday in Santa Monica Superior Court against landlord 817 Whittier LLC. Bektayeva is seeking rescission of the contract and also alleges wrongful retention of a security deposit. Both plaintiffs allege unjust enrichment.
Richard D. Farkas, a lawyer for 817 Whittier, could not be immediately reached.
According to the suit, Bektayeva and 817 Whittier signed a three-month rental agreement for the home on Whittier Drive beginning June 15 and ending Sept. 15, the suit states.
A copy of the rental agreement attached to the suit states that Denisova and a third person, Grigorii Melikhov, both of Russia, were the intended occupants at the home. The suit does not state the relationship between Denisova, Melikhov and Bektayeva, but does indicate that on Feb. 26, Bektayeva paid $380,000.00 to 817 Whittier by wire transfer as a rent payment and security deposit.
In turn, Denisov reimbursed Bektayeva $165,000.00 for her share of the rent, according to the suit. Melikhov is not a plaintiff.
On March 24, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and Department of Public Health declared a local public health emergency because of the coronavirus, the suit states. In addition, on March 4, Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency to make additional resources available and formalize emergency actions already under way across multiple state agencies and departments, the suit states.
Meanwhile, the federal government closed its borders and imposed strict travel bans, while Russia severely curtailed or canceled most international flights in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the suit states.
In addition, the U.S. Mission to Russia reduced visa operations and provided emergency consular service only, according to the suit.
The U.S. orders prevented foreign nationals from entering the country and the U.S. Consulate General reduced its operations to emergency services only, so no visas were issued to the plaintiffs or Melikhov, preventing them from coming to the U.S. as they planned in June, according to the suit.
Furthermore, in response to and to prevent the spread of the virus, Russia closed its borders and prevented its citizens from traveling outside of the country and stopped citizens of other nations from entering its borders, the suit states.
A lawyer for the plaintiffs wrote the landlord a letter in late March asking for a refund of all money paid to date given that Denisova and Melikhov were prevented from traveling to the U.S., but an attorney for the property owner responded and said the agreement would not be rescinded, the suit states.
The landlord agreed after being sent many emails to mediate the dispute, but has not committed to a date to do so, the suit states.