Mobile Home Tenants Regain Rent Control

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday passed urgency legislation aimed at heading off potentially large rent increases for some mobile home tenants.

The council acted after several tenants at Los Olivos Mobile Home Park in Sylmar told council members Friday they feared the increases because a recent state Court of Appeal ruling removed them from the protection of the city's rent control law.

Council members said they were unaware of the ruling until notified by the tenants.

The court ruled in September that because of ambiguous language in the city's 1979 rent control law, the ordinance does not apply to mobile homes installed after Oct. 1, 1978.

The new ordinance, which goes into effect immediately, clarifies the ambiguity and reinstates the coverage retroactively.

The appellate court, on a suit filed by Los Olivos, ruled that the law applies to mobile homes installed before 1978 and to all apartments built before 1986.

Apartments built and mobile homes installed since 1986 are not covered by city rent control, which limits increases to rises in the cost of living.

The city attorney's office did not notify the council because it is appealing the ruling to the state Supreme Court, said Deputy City Atty. Gwendolyn Poindexter.

She noted that a trial court had upheld the city's position on mobile homes installed between 1978 and 1986, but that the appellate court ruled 3 to 0 in favor of Los Olivos' position that those mobile homes were not covered.

Farris Robertson, a Los Olivos resident who led the delegation to the council last week, said some tenants at the park are "mostly elderly people and some are terrified of management. They are worried sick about being forced out by huge increases."

Before the council action, Robert L. Weiss, an attorney for Los Olivos, said the court ruling would not have wide impact.

Weiss said he and attorneys for the city had identified only 533 spaces built after 1978, out of 6,800 in the city.

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