HomeCity NewsRenters Push Back on Eviction Notices

Renters Push Back on Eviction Notices

Dozens of Burbank renters came home to find unexpected eviction notices taped to their doors this month. Many of the tenants said they fear they are now days away from homelessness.

Residents from at least three buildings — one 40-unit building located on Olive Avenue, and two smaller buildings located on Tujunga Boulevard and Lincoln Street — received the notices. Many tenants are 80-years old and older. Several of them reported that they were experiencing health issues.

One tenant, Sandra Olvera, said at a Burbank City Council meeting Tuesday that her landlord took advantage of the fact that she was not fluent in English, telling her that if she signed a contract, he would “receive a loan to build more apartments. He assured us that he was not going to evict us or change our rent,” she said.

Despite apparent verbal guarantees from her landlord, she said, Olvera received a 60-day notice to vacate her home on April 1.

“I am going through very sad times. I have many medical problems, and all of this is affecting me even more,” she said. “The moment the new owner purchased the property, he was not honest with the tenants.”

Landlord Josef Gharibian cited an “intent to remodel” as the reason for the mass evictions of Olvera and her neighbors at a Lincoln Street apartment building. At least two other apartment buildings also received similar notices this month. Local real estate agent Lernik Moses signed off as a witness to the notices for Gharibian.

The Leader could not confirm if Gharibian is the owner of all three apartment buildings.

Several properties in the region, including at least two of the three facing these renovation evictions in Burbank are owned by unknown LLCs. One corporation is called Olive Apartments LLC, another is called Berlington-Beverly LLC. They are registered with a P.O. box address in Beverly Hills. When you go there, you find a mailbox business that will also copy your keys for you.

Now, the tenants, with assistance from the Burbank Tenant’s Union and the Healing and Justice Center — organizations that are dedicated to helping tenants in vulnerable circumstances — are fighting the evictions, hoping for a chance to stay in their homes. Many asked the City Council to impose a moratorium on evictions, while others called for an investigation into the landlords of the three buildings.

For context, the California Tenant Protection Act, AB 1482, was signed into law in October 2019 to prevent exorbitant rent increases and unjust evictions. Cities throughout California have since adopted local ordinances that expand on the state Assembly bill. Burbank is in the process of mandating such additional tenant protections and is set to hear a report on the topic this summer.

The City Council warned of a loophole in AB 1482 that makes it possible for landlords to simply express their intent to remodel a property, legally evicting their tenants in the process, while no municipal enforcement method exists to verify such repairs took place. This makes it easy for a landlord to evict all of their tenants and relist the property at a much higher price than if they opted for incremental yearly rent increases.

“When a speculative investor wants to increase their monthly income, they can simply use the word remodel and move me out in 60 days with a pitiful compensation,” said Clint Allisone, a resident of the Lincoln Street apartment building.

On Tuesday, tenants from the three Burbank apartment buildings called on the Burbank City Council to take action to delay or stop the evictions. Though the issue was not on the Council’s agenda, they voted unanimously to add an emergency agenda item to the evening’s proceedings.

“The reason I voted to make this an emergency agenda item is that we have many Burbank residents packed and filling this room saying that they are being evicted. If that doesn’t constitute an emergency, I don’t know what the hell does,” said Vice Mayor Nick Schultz.

In the short term, the City Council decided to consider a moratorium on evictions until the city can finalize a resolution for rent protections slated for later this year. They will discuss that item as early as Tuesday.

In the meantime, the City Council directed the Landlord Tenant Commission to provide any necessary legal services to tenants facing immediate eviction. Tenants will attend a meeting of the Landlord Tenant Commission on Monday.

“Unfortunately, these types of evictions are currently legal under state law,” said Burbank Tenants’ Union member Alissandra Valdez during the meeting. Valdez called for permanent tenant protections and rent stabilization measures.

“Mass evictions disproportionately impact the most vulnerable members of this city. We receive so many emails from seniors and working-class single parents who feel like the city has turned their back on them,” Valdez said.

“Tonight, will not be the last time that you hear from us … we will be back here every night fighting until these protections are passed,” she said.

First published in the April 29 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

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