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Lawsuit Filed to Block Illegal Landlord Rent Online Only Policy

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CES Executive Director Larry Gross announces that a lawsuit has been filed by Bet Tzedek Legal Services to block a landlord's illegal rent only online policy.

On March 6, 2012, the Coalition for Economic Survival (CES) organized a news conference to announce that a lawsuit has been filed the day before in Los Angeles County Superior Court against Jones and Jones Property Management Company on behalf of tenants who are illegally being required to pay their rent only online.

Bet Tzedek Legal Services filed the lawsuit.

The news conference was held in front of the more than 300-unit Woodlake Manor Apartments in L.A.'s Crenshaw area, which is owned by Jones and Jones

Last September tenants in 34 buildings owned by Jones and Jones Property Management in throughout the City of Los Angeles were served with notices informing them that a new rent online only policy would begin on December 1, 2011.

The notice stated that the new rent policy was for the purposes of 'going green' to help the planet and save trees by eliminating paper checks and envelopes.

But, CES Executive Director Larry Gross stated, "We believe the only "going green" they're interested in is the going for more green dollar bills, which they believe will increase in the form of higher rents after evicting people for non-payment of rent who are unable to deal with the new online technology. This is more about greed than green."

After receiving the notice tenants sought and received assistance from the Coalition for Economic Survival (CES). CES helped to organize residents to oppose the new policy and contacted Bet Tzedek Legal Services who agreed to represent the tenants in this legal action.

Many of these tenants, including lawsuit plaintiffs, are over the age of 62 and have lived in their homes for a decade or more, and, thus, are paying the lowest rent.

In addition, many of these tenants do not own computers, are not computer literate, and are living on fixed incomes.

Gross added, "This policy is nothing more than a scheme to target the long-term, low-rent tenants for eviction to obtain higher rents."

Tenant Kenneth Carr shows a rent check that Jones and Jones Management Company is refusing to accept as other Woodlake Manor tenants look on.

In addition, the new online policy violates the L.A. Rent Stabilization Ordinance, which prohibits a landlord from changing any of the existing terms of tenancy unless both the tenant and landlord agreed to the change.

The Los Angeles Housing Department provided Jones and Jones with a letter advising them that the new rent online payment requirement was illegal, but Jones and Jones ignored it and has refused to rescind this policy.

After reading about CES' efforts to oppose the rent only online policy, California State Senator Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) responded by taking decisive action against this abuse.

Senator Lieu recently introduced Senate Bill (SB) 1055 that would require all California landlords to continue to accept rent by check or money order.

Click Here for More Photos of the News Conference.

Larry Gross is the Executive Director of the Coalition for Economic Survival (CES). He has been with CES for 40 years, since its inception in 1973. CES is a grassroots, multi-racial, multi-ethnic tenants' rights organization serving low and moderate (more...)

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