A former tenant at a Watts home is suing her ex-landlord, alleging she was part of a scheme in which the homeowner leased rooms to desperate people, then quickly evicted them to get new residents equally in dire need of shelter.
Shianne Lovings’ Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit names as defendants the landlord, Shalena Harris, and Diamond Elite Management Inc., managers of the property where the plaintiff briefly resided.
Lovings alleges fraud, theft, breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment, and violations of the state civil code. She seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages in the suit filed Monday.
Lovings alleges she was eventually locked out of the home and unable to retrieve her belongings, including a plasma-screen television, baby stroller, two small appliances and toys.
Harris could not be immediately reached.
Lovings and her young children, ages 4 and 6, were “housing insecure” when they arrived in Los Angeles in May in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic to escape domestic violence, the suit states. That month, Lovings saw a Facebook ad for a room on Zamora Avenue in a home that was well kept, clean and had a working kitchen, the suit states.
She went to the home and met Harris on May 20, and saw that the ad’s photos were for a different location, the suit states. The Zamora residence was in poor condition, had holes in the floors, a poorly working bathroom and a “crumbling” kitchen, according to the complaint.
Ten other people were living there, scattered inside and outside the house, including a family of five residing in a shed in the back yard, the suit states.
Lovings initially insisted that Harris show her the location advertised online, but the landlord feigned ignorance of the ad and instead pushed Lovings to lease a room, the suit states.
“Harris knew Lovings was housing insecure and was desperate to find a place for her young children to live and saw an opportunity to take advantage of Lovings for monetary gain,” the suit alleges.
According to the suit, the Zamora home was run “as a revolving door, duping desperate individuals living on the edge of homelessness to make initial cash payments to live at the property and then promptly forcing them to leave in order to dupe another round of victims into living at the property.”
Harris told Lovings that if she leased a room at the Zamora home, the plaintiff could later move to the house advertised online when it was available, or she would fix the problems at the Zamora property, the suit states.
Lovings, “sorely needing a home for her children,” agreed to lease a room at the Zamora home and paid Harris $950, the suit states.
Weeks after Lovings moved into the room on May 20, Harris began harassing her and the other tenants with the goal of evicting them, the suit states.
“Harris carried out this vicious campaign through months of threats of physical violence and cutting off the property’s utilities,” according to the suit.
In June, Harris confronted Lovings and told her that the landlord’s family members “were coming to physically hurt Lovings in order to force her and her family to leave the property, even making threats that her family owned guns, the suit states.
Harris entered the residence without permission, destroyed the kitchen and took all of Lovings’ dishes and cookware, making it impossible for her to make meals for her children, the suit alleges.
In late July, Harris removed the property’s outside doorknobs, leaving Lovings feeling insecure in the knowledge that anyone could come in at any time, the suit states. Harris ultimately changed the main door lock and put a lock on the fence, barring Lovings and the other tenants access to their rooms and personal property, the suit states.
Harris never returned Lovings’ belongings and the plaintiff believes her former landlord is currently carrying on the same alleged scheme with new tenants, the suit states.
>> Want to read more stories like this? Get our Free Daily Newsletters Here!Follow us: