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The L.A. City Council's Housing, Community Economic and Development (HCED) Committee unanimously voted on April 16, 2012 in support of a motion by Councilmember Paul Krekorian and seconded by Council Member Dennis Zine to prohibit landlords from demanding that their tenants pay their rent only online.
The motion is similar to a state bill, SB 1055, introduced by California State Senator Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) that would that require landlords throughout the state to continue to accept rent by check or money order.
Larry Gross, Coalition for Economic Survival (CES)
Executive Director testified at the Committee hearing that "many of
these tenants are seniors, disabled and low income, and have lived in
their homes for decades 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 charged that, this policy is nothing more than a scheme to target long-term, low-rent tenants for eviction to obtain higher rents."
Last September, tenants living in over 30 buildings owned by Jones
and Jones Property Management, received notices informing them that a
new rent online only policy would begin in December. Tenants from the
Woodlake Manor Apartments Tenants Association, a Jones and Jones
property in South Los Angeles where the rent online only policy was
instituted, attended the hearing and also testified. CES has been assisting the tenant association.
In a major surprise to some, representatives of the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles and California Apartment Association, as well as some individuals landlords testified in support of the motion and denounced the Jones and Jones rent online policy as unjust.
The motion will now head to the full City Council, which is expected to approve instructing City Attorney to draft the actual law.
In addition, Bet Tzedek Legal Services has filed a law suit against Jones and Jones on behalf of the tenants.