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Records Shine Light on Renovation Evictions

Three of four apartment buildings involved in last month’s mass “renovation evictions” in Burbank have not applied for recent permits with the city, records through April 2023 revealed.

A Burbank Leader public information request has shown that landlords behind the recent wave of evictions might not have had any immediate plans to remodel their rental units.

Under state Assembly Bill 1482, if a landlord wants to carry out a no-fault eviction of their tenants, they must have a significant reason, such as a family member moving in or a significant renovation, which would require pulling permits through a city’s building department.

Each of the property owners who issued eviction notices to their tenants in Burbank last month cited an “intent to remodel.” The law AB 1482 defines substantial renovation as any repairs to a property that would require a city permit, which most of the property owners have not obtained at this time.

That may be because landlords, many of whom are operating corporations located in Beverly Hills and Westwood, are taking advantage of a loophole within AB 1482 that allows them to simply express intent to renovate, rather than actually carrying out the repairs, according to some City Councilmembers.

One owner of a building on Olive Avenue has applied for permits for asbestos removal, but landlords have not responded to the Leader’s request for comment regarding why tenants need to be permanently evicted to carry out repairs.

The law cites “intent to remodel” as just cause to evict.

“The law, as written, does not require that permits be pulled. Instead, it only requires that a landlord intend to demolish or to substantially remodel the residential real property,” City Attorney Joe McDougall told the Leader. “As such, failure to pull permits may not defeat no-fault just cause eviction proceedings.”

As it stands, municipalities have no power to enforce the state requirements around evictions, and the landlords do not face consequences unless tenants choose to take them on in court.

“At present, the city does not have the ability to directly enforce AB 1482. Rather, enforcement occurs in the Superior Court, and a landlord’s failure to comply can be a tenant’s defense to the eviction,” McDougall said.

City leaders have set out to patch up this defect, which has allowed landlords statewide to evict tenants with no real intention to renovate, while significantly increasing rent for new tenants.

After recent storms, renter Barbara Beckley’s ceiling and walls suffered severe water damage, and there is now suspected mold. Building management had not fixed it before she received an eviction notice.

“At the city level, we can make it a requirement that landlords prove they actually pulled permits and to demonstrate that renovations will take at least a month,” Councilwoman Tamala Takahashi told the Leader. “It seems like a no-brainer to me to add that.”

The City Council began the process to create additional renter protections prior to the recent evictions. Councilmembers have designated funds for a consultant who will give a study session on the issue later this year.

With the help of the city’s planning department, about 10 tenants have extended their stays to allow additional time to find new housing. Most tenants were given 60-day notices to vacate and were compensated one month of rent for their trouble.

Takahashi says that one month is not enough, and that relocation costs are the biggest roadblock for tenants facing eviction.

Landlords who issued eviction notices have offered one “last month’s rent” to tenants interviewed by the Leader. No further relocation funds were offered as compensation for moving.

Some of the renters who were displaced in the recent wave of evictions have sought relief from local housing and homelessness nonprofit Home Again Los Angeles.

At least two of those renters qualified for six months of rent and deposit funds from the nonprofit to aid in their relocation, said Albert Hernandez, chief executive officer of Home Again L.A.

Takahashi told the Leader that the city may seek grant funding to provide similar relocation relief for tenants.

“In my opinion, it’s not OK for our residents not to have homes. It is the very top priority for me,” Takahashi said.


One tenant, Barbara Beckley — an 80-year-old Burbank resident — is concerned that 60 days will not be enough to secure housing and move out her things.

Beckley is a founder of the Colony Theatre and was the artistic director there for many years. She is also well-known in the city for her service on the Burbank Cultural Arts Commission.

She received a 60-day eviction notice on April 19 from her Glendale-based landlord, Jack Tabakian, who recently purchased the property.

According to three renters who live in Beckley’s East Valencia apartment complex, Tabakian told renters that he did not have plans to evict tenants, but shortly after, all of the residents were served notices.

The Leader attempted to contact Tabakian, but his listed phone number leads to an automated answering machine with a full inbox.

The following week, Beckley was at City Hall speaking out for herself and her fellow renters. An estimated 40-60 renters from the four buildings received renovation-eviction notices, and many attended the April 25 meeting.

Shortly after, Beckley suffered a serious fall, and is in the process of recovering. She said that moving before the 60-day deadline would be very difficult for her.

After receiving the eviction notice, Beckley arranged to leave Burbank for good, and will soon have to share an apartment with another renter after 23 years in her current home. Her rent will go up significantly, a challenge for someone on a fixed income, she said.

“I’m draining my savings to zero just to pay for in-home care,” she told the Leader. “I’m really attached to Burbank, and I don’t want to leave, but it’s just too expensive.”

First published in the May 13 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

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