Avoid tenant relocation during seismic retrofit

4 Replies | Los Angeles County, California

Hi,

I own an 8-unit building in Los Angeles, that's on the city's list for a mandatory seismic retrofit. We just handed out the Tenant Habitability Plan (THP) notices today, and one of the tenants wants to apply for permanent relocation.

Is there a way to avoid that? The work doesn't require relocation, and no utilities will be disrupted. Parking would be affected, and I would be willing to compensate tenants for the inconvenience, but that doesn't justify relocation - at $8-$15k per unit! From what I've read, the THP protects tenants from being evicted without compensation, but this is the opposite - I'm trying to keep all the tenants, while complying with city-mandated ordinance.

I've seen many occupied buildings that are undergoing seismic retrofits, so I'm wondering how landlords deal with relocation requests. What are my options? The retrofit is expensive already, I simply cannot afford to spend another $50k to have a half-vacant building (assuming only half the tenants choose relocation). Has anyone tried to politely decline, citing city-approved permits that don't require relocation? Do you offer everyone some fixed compensation amount, or negotiate with each tenant separately? If push comes to shove, can I just... refuse, and take my chances in small-claims court?

Thanks,

Aleko

That is so LA rent control specific, you probably should talk with the rent control folks, and tell them you are NOT evicting or asking anyone to leave.  What is the process to turn down the request for relocation expenses.  Let them leave on their own, not at your expense because you are not asking them to leave and will accommodate reasonable costs due to the required work.

BTW, I had to do a seismic refit in my house in San Bernardino County when I did a 1200 square foot room addition.  It really was not that big of a deal.  Lots and lots of cross bracing throughout the crawl space of the house.  Not sure what you have to do for your apartment, but mine was not a big deal.

Originally posted by @Aleko Petkov:

...one of the tenants wants to apply for permanent relocation.

Is there a way to avoid that? 

If you filed everything properly, you served all the documents correctly, the seismic retrofit will take 30 days or longer, and the tenant has completed and delivered to you the Request for Permanent Relocation document within 15 days, unfortunately I am not aware of any way to avoid it. Once the request document is received, you have 15 days to pay the relocation assistance (directly or through escrow). Please confirm with the HCIDLA office what options you may have.

Has the tenant actually completely filled out the document yet or just verbally stated the desire for relocation assistance? You may be able to communicate the realities of relocation assistance and confirm that is their best option. For example, if the tenant is less than 62 years old, has no disability and has no dependent children, the tenant would be eligible for $8,200 in relocation assistance. If there are 2 tenants in the unit, each gets half, 3 tenants get 1/3 each, and so on. If tenancy has been 3 years or more, the amount is $10,550. Also, the tenant must vacate within 60 days of the original Notice of Seismic Retrofit. Everything else would work the same as any tenant vacating a rental (pre-move out walk-through, security deposit deductions if any).  

If appropriate, you can negotiate some compensation for the tenant to stay (make sure you use the proper per diem form and document everything). You may choose to do so equally for everyone or on an individual basis.

This situation is very unfortunate and I'm sorry to hear. If a tenant is aware of the facts and still chooses to vacate, I strongly suggest you do not force the issue. Although I do not have experience in tenants choosing permanent relocation assistance for a seismic retrofit, according to the HCIDLA, there may be severe penalties for not providing relocation assistance.

If you are able, let us know how things turn out. Los Angeles has and continues to struggle with all of the seimic retrofits going on everywhere!

Sorry to read about that.  Sounds like it's quite rough in LA City... one of the main reasons I stick with Ventura County.  I'd advise to consult with a real estate attorney as to your options, if any.

 So what was the outcome with this situation? Its getting close to the deadline and it seems not even half of the buildings are up to code? will a extension be granted for those that qualify or for other whose funds are in the process of being obtained?