A year after the law was passed, the city has failed to prosecute any of the more than 2,000 complaints filed by tenants.
In August 2021, Los Angeles passed the Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance (TAHO), a law aimed at holding abusive landlords accountable. A year later, despite over 2,300 complaints filed, no landlords have been prosecuted.
Reporting for L.A. Taco, Jack Ross describes the “structural flaw that makes it practically impossible for tenants to get lawyers to represent them in civil lawsuits: The law does not guarantee lawyers reimbursement for legal fees.” According to a spokesperson from the city’s Housing Department, the unfunded program was allocated some funding for enforcement in the 2022-23 fiscal year. “The senior official at LAHD said the department was not referring cases for prosecution because it had not received any that were strong enough to merit such action.”
The law bans landlords from threatening tenants with violence or deportation, interfering with tenant organizing, rejecting payments, and informally evicting tenants. Landlords who violate the law are barred from raising rent on the next tenant. “This clause is meant to deter landlords from using harassment to drive tenants from rent-controlled apartments and then renting the same apartments out at market rates.”
Tenant advocates insist harassment does happen regularly in Los Angeles. The article details some examples, outlining the challenges faced by any tenant trying to make their way through the system and pursue a case. A fall ballot initiative could, if passed, raise more revenue for the program through a tax on real estate transactions over $5 million.
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