Tenant Victory in East LA : City Terrace Tenants Beat Back Unjust Rent Increase
Between January and March of last year, tenants at 4330 City Terrace Drive, in unincorporated East Los Angeles, were hit with a 63% rent increase, from $1250 to $2000 per month. The increase came despite deplorable conditions that existed in some of the tenants’ apartments. Some families left the building rather than pay the rent increase. Others, with support from the L.A. Tenants Union, decided to stay and fight.
One of those families, led by Roberto Perez, Carolina Rodriguez, and Cassandra Perez, has now beaten back this unaffordable rent increase three times in court. The most recent victory came on August 29, 2017 with the help of attorney Noah Grynberg and the Los Angeles Center for Community Law and Action. In two prior cases, two separate courts found that the family’s apartment was uninhabitable. Now, they’ve won for a third time, and they’ll keep fighting for as long as it takes to stay in their home.
Carolina Rodriguez, 43, and her husband Robert Perez, 44, and their six children ages 4 to 20, have lived in the City Terrace apartment for four years. Carolina grew up in East LA and her mother still lives nearby. They are the only family left of the 8 families who lived in the building when Winstar bought it.
Carolina says the stress of fighting the evictions has gotten to her. “I began to overeat and my hair started falling out. I worry that my family will end up on the street or that we’ll have to leave East LA and my mom and move to Texas or Las Vegas. I don’t want to leave my mom. I don’t want to leave East LA. But Winstar is not giving me any choice.”
Still, Carolina has decided to stay and fight. “I want affordable and safe housing for everyone. I want universal rent control and protection against unjust eviction.”
Winstar Properties is able to get away with this in unincorporated East LA, because Los Angeles’ rent stabilization ordinance does not extend to unincorporated parts of the city. We demand better. All tenants deserve their rights to dignified living conditions. Renters in unincorporated East LA should not be dragged to court three times in one year over extreme rent increases at their cockroach-infested apartment. The existing system of tenant protections in LA County, especially outside the City of Los Angeles, permits landlords to sue the same tenants month after month, even if those tenants keep winning in court and beating back unjust evictions. That system needs to change. Roberto, Carolina, and Cassandra have been standing up for their rights for over a year. It’s time for the people who make the law to stand up, too.