Landlords in Los Angeles Are Allegedly Making Buildings Uninhabitable to Push Out Poor People

Tenants hoped that a lawsuit would make the Madison Hotel, which has some of the last affordable housing units in downtown LA, habitable again. But so far, it hasn't.
News Story (California)

Daniel Ross
February 3, 2016

Tags: Housing: Eviction, Housing: Landlord-Tenant

Organizations mentioned/involved: Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA)


Last November, the tenants of the Madison Hotel, a 220-room residential hotel in downtown Los Angeles, sued the property owners for conditions they described as “untenantable.” Among the complaints listed: Trash wasn’t being collected within the building, leading to a cockroach infestation; the elevator frequently broke and wasn’t fixed; the communal TV room and lobby were stripped of furniture; mold grew up the walls; there was a bedbug infestation; and the landlord allegedly threatened to forcibly remove certain tenants, some of whom said they were harassed about their sexual orientation or their disabilities.


“Essentially, for the last month and a half, the owners have ignored that there’s a lawsuit,” said Jeanne Nishimoto, attorney at the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles. “They weren’t even turning on the heat in the building when it was very cold. And it’s an all-concrete building—you can guess how cold it gets in there.” (William Holdings, LLC, one of the defendants in the law suit, declined to comment for this story.)

Eventually, the tenants filed a court order to ensure the building was kept at a temperature of 70 degrees during the day and 65 degrees at night. But not much else has changed, and it’s unlikely to, as long as the low-income residents of the Madison Hotel occupy potentially profitable real estate. According to the people familiar with the situation, landlords using underhanded tactics to evict tenants in Los Angeles goes much further than just the Madison Hotel.