The owner of Barrington Plaza, an aging apartment complex in Los Angeles with multiple life-threatening fires, said Monday that it plans to evict all tenants to make room for renovations. Adding a sprinkler system would cost over $300 million and take several years.
Host Douglas Emmett Inc. notified city officials that it would withdraw all 712 apartments in Barrington Plaza from the rental market under the Ellis Act. State law allows landlords to remove tenants from rent-stable apartments for substantial remodeling of the property, among other reasons.
It is expected to be one of the largest mass evictions in the city in recent years, affecting 577 inhabited apartments, some of which are tenants already living in the area. Decades of restaurants under rent control aim to keep their monthly payments below market rates.
Residents were notified on Monday of the planned closure.
Tenant rights advocate Larry Gross of the Coalition for Economic Survival said Douglas Emmett should plan to temporarily relocate tenants and allow them to return to controlled units rent when repairs are completed.
“There are long-term tenants who will eventually have to move and will have to pay much higher rents” in the future, he said. “They won’t be able to find comparable housing in the neighborhood or even in the city.”
The landlord said the complex at Wilshire Avenue and Barrington Avenue in LA’s Sawtelle neighborhood will be put back on the rental market when the upgrade is complete. No completion date has been set and there are no rules for tenants to return to their apartments.
Landlords say existing tenants can have a year to move out and, in the case of seniors or people with disabilities, they will receive more than $22,000 in financial assistance to move out.
Relocation expense payments to tenants who have lived in the building for less than three years will amount to $9,200 and can be used for expenses such as the first and last month’s rent in an apartment other, deposit and moving fee. The dollar amount follows the city’s eviction guidelines.
Due to high turnover, most tenants are now paying market rent, the landlord said.
The three-tower complex was built in the early 1960s, bringing it in a group of 55 residential towers in Los Angeles are exempt from laws that require sprinklers to be activated by fire. Most apartment buildings are required to have sprinklers, but the city maintains an exemption for tall buildings built between 1943 and 1974. Among them are apartment buildings. used by the owner who objected to the additional cost of the sprinkler.
The lack of sprinklers at Barrington Plaza proved dangerous in 2013, when one of its three towers caught fire, forcing 125 residents to evacuate. The fire flared up again in the same 25-story structure, called Tower A, in 2020. A 19-year-old man was killed and 13 people were injured, including a 3-month-old baby and two firefighters. Eight floors in the building have been red-marked by the city inspector as unsafe to live in and remain vacant.
Although city law does not require the Barrington Plaza and other residential towers of its contemporaries to implement a sprinkler retrofit, city officials have approved a plan to repair Barrington Plaza from a fire in 2005. 2020 is based on upgrading the safety standards of all units.
“We understand that removing all Barrington Plaza rental units from the market will affect our tenants,” Douglas Emmett CEO Jordan Kaplan said in a statement. . “Unfortunately, this was the only way to comply with city directives on installing fire sprinklers and other life safety improvements throughout the towers following the January 2020 fire. .”
The landlord said Barrington Plaza will have relocation specialists on site who can provide individual assistance and assistance to tenants in locating, viewing, and moving into their new home. home said. There will also be a telephone hotline to answer tenant questions.
“While nearly 75% of our residents have been at Barrington Plaza for less than three years, we have a number of residents who have been here for more than 20 years and we want to make sure the process goes as smoothly as possible. possible for them,” Kaplan said. “That is why we are going beyond the requirements of the Ellis Act by providing individual relocation assistance tailored to the specific circumstances of each tenant.”
Gross said landlords should use other measures to protect tenant housing at Barrington Plaza.
“It’s one of the biggest complexes on the Westside,” he said. “Rent controlled units will be lost forever if they use the Ellis Act.”