In an earlier lifetime, I briefly lived with 10 other people in a 6-bedroom apartment in Manhattan that had illegally been converted from a 3-bedroom. It was hellish and not long after I departed, the remaining roommates all sued each other. But that’s nothing compared to the mess created by one L.A. landlord who is alleged to have carved up a 3-apartment triplex into 44 separate units.
Back in December, authorities caught wind of the human hive, where the glorified closets — some without heat — rented for up to $500/month. The tenants were all forced out on the street just before Christmas. Yesterday, the city finally got around to filing criminal charges against the landlord.
The landlord is accused of not just hacking up the building into too-tiny, too-numerous rooms, but also for putting his tenants’ lives at risk with the improper electrical wiring, lack of smoke detectors and fire extinguishers… things that may come in handy when you have that many people living in such close quarters.
Many former tenants have already filed their own lawsuit against the landlord. Among their allegations are claims they were forced to clean the common areas of the building or face fines.
The city could have actually done something about this more than year ago, when it first began hearing complaints about the building from neighbors.
From the L.A. Times:
A city Building and Safety inspector went to the three-story, burnt-orange structure and concluded that it had valid permits for three apartments, but they never went inside, according to an agency spokesman.
Lest you think this was a one-off for the landlord, he’s also been accused of converting a single-family home into 14 rental units.