July 14, 2024 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

Judge Rules in Favor of Tenants in Historic West Los Angeles Eviction Case

Landlord’s Eviction Plan Under Ellis Act Rejected, Tenants Can Stay

After a lengthy legal battle that spanned over a year, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge has tentatively ruled in favor of the defendants, who formed the Barrington Plaza Tenants Association, in the largest mass eviction in Los Angeles history under the Ellis Act. Barrington Plaza is a West Los Angeles apartment complex with 712 apartments that has suffered two recent fires, one of which resulted in the death of a tenant. 

The landlord, Barrington Pacific, an LLC connected to Douglas Emmett, invoked the Ellis Act in May of 2023, saying that they intended to make upgrades in the building that would require all tenants to be evicted. 

Many of the protections that renters had during the pandemic have expired, leaving them vulnerable to potential evictions or increased rents, so this case was of great interest to renters and landlords alike.  

On June 13, Judge H. Jay Ford III ruled against Douglas Emmett, a Maryland corporation, and Barrington Pacific LLC, a California-based LLC. Ford found that the landlord’s actions did not meet the standard of the Ellis Act, namely that they were “going out of business” and did not intend to place the rental units at Barrington Plaza back on the market and that this plan violated the city’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance.  

The ruling stated, “…when Barrington Pacific filed its Notice of Intent to Withdraw Units from Rental Housing Use with the City and served its notice of termination on its tenants, Barrington Pacific did not intend to permanently remove those apartments from the rental market under the RSO or otherwise intend to go out of business as contemplated under the Ellis Act. But rather. Barrington Pacific had the intent to temporarily withdraw the apartments in Barrington Plaza from rental use with the specific intent to relet those apartments as soon as it completed its planned renovations to all the apartments, including installing fire and safety improvements, sprinklers, and other modernization upgrades, all of which Barrington Pacific planned for and expected would take three to five years to complete.”

This means that the 100 tenants who are still living in the apartment building can stay pending the final version of the ruling, which will take effect after a time period given to the plaintiff to object. 

Barrington Plaza tenant Monique Gomez said in a statement released by the Coalition for Economic Survival, “We have been fighting these bogus evictions for over a year now. Tenants here have faced harassment, intimidation, and uncertainty without little to no help from the city. It shows that when we stick together, we can win. I am overjoyed.”

Larry Gross, executive director for the Coalition for Economic Survival, stated, “This is, no doubt, one of the most important tenants’ rights legal victory in state history.”

Douglass Emmett and Barrington Pacific told the LAist that a decision had not been made on whether or not the landlord intends to appeal, but that work on the building will continue.

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