LOS ANGELES, Nov. 30, 2015 — To stop ongoing harassment by management and address long-standing habitability issues, 16 low-income residents of the Madison Hotel in downtown L.A., many of them elderly, disabled, and military veterans, and Los Angeles Community Action Network (LA CAN), a tenant-organizing group, have filed suit against the hotel’s owners and management. The plaintiffs are represented by attorneys from Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles and Inner City Law Center. The complaint, filed in Superior Court today, cites the past and current landlords’ violations of the Fair Employment and Housing Act, civil rights violations, and failure to provide habitable conditions. In addition to seeking court orders to stop defendants’ illegal conduct, plaintiffs are also asking for monetary damages for the harms they have suffered.
The Madison Hotel, at 423 E. 7th Street, is a residential hotel and one of the last affordable housing options in the downtown area. Many of the tenants, some of L.A.’s most vulnerable residents, have called the building home for decades. Since June when it bought the building, 423 E. 7th Street, LLC, and its management company, William Holdings, LLC, have engaged in a range of illegal and deplorable tactics apparently aimed at getting tenants to leave their home, including cutting essential services, ridiculing individuals for their disabilities, age, and sexual orientation, issuing invalid 24-hour notices to enter, and threatening to forcibly remove tenants from their units. Tenants, most of whom cannot afford to leave, have no way to escape this harassment and the resulting emotional harm and fear.
Many tenants also suffer from management’s failure to keep the hotel in a livable condition. Roaches run freely throughout the building, particularly now that management has ceased regular trash collection, and a long-standing bed bug infestation has exploded due to management’s ineffective treatments. The building’s only elevator was out of order for several days in August and nearly a week in October, forcing tenants who are elderly and disabled to climb as many as four flights of stairs to their rooms.
Further, the current owners and managers have cut or reduced building services, and changed building rules without tenants’ consent. Plaintiffs’ rent has always covered a number of services, including cleaning and linen services, which new management ended. It has banned guests, including LA CAN, which tried to organize residents. Management stripped the lobby and TV room of furniture and prohibited residents from socializing in those spaces, further isolating tenants. All of this was done in violation of state and local law.
The lawsuit was filed after tenants’ formal demands to stop harassment and address habitability concerns were not met.