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Today, Tenants Together, California’s statewide organization for tenants’ rights, nominated two more landlords to its Landlord Hall of Shame: Donald Sterling, the Los Angeles Clipper owner and LA-area mega landlord as well as Santa Clara County-based Steve Pavlina, owner of the Remington Grove Apartments.
Tenants Together is a statewide organization for renters’ rights. Its Landlord Hall of Shame is designed to expose the worst landlords in California and to make sure that their actions do not go unnoticed.
According to Program Coordinator Gabe Treves, “despite federal and state laws, discrimination on the basis of race remains a big obstacle for California renters to secure adequate housing. This problem is compounded by the ability of large landlords to buy their way out of discrimination claims. We hope that through the Landlord Hall of Shame, California tenants will be able to deter this bad behavior by shining a public spotlight on these bad actors.”
Donald Sterling, an LA-area mega landlord, has been involved in a number of out-of-court settlements. In 2009, Sterling paid the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) the largest settlement ever involving a housing discrimination case. According to the DOJ, Sterling “Engaged in a pattern or practice of discriminating on the basis of race, national origin, and family status.” The DOJ stated that Sterling “refused to rent to African Americans” and that his conduct was willful. In 2006, the Housing Rights Center in Los Angeles sued Sterling for discrimination, a case that Sterling settled for an undisclosed amount that included over $5 million in fees. Sterling has also been sued for harassment and employment discrimination based on race by NBA legend and former Clippers General Manager Elgin Baylor.
Steve Pavlina, owner of Remington Grove Apartments, a 200-unit complex in Sunnyvale, Santa Clara County has also used his pocket book to make his legal problems go away. Through an independent study that involved sending people of different ethnic backgrounds acting as prospective tenants, Project Sentinel determined that Pavlina steered prospective tenants of Indian origin away from Remington Grove Apartments’ nicer and recently remodeled units. According to Phyllis Cheng, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing’s Director, “the department found compelling evidence that the landlord rented only less desirable apartments to tenants of Indian national origin.” In 2008, Pavlina paid $100,000 to settle out of court.
In March, 2010 a class action lawsuit was filed against Pavlina by a number of his former tenants alleging that he routinely fails to return security deposits. Pavlina is accused of charging excessive amounts for ordinary wear and tear, sometimes in excess of $3,000 to $4,000.
All California tenants can suggest nominees for the Landlord Hall of Shame by going to http://hallofshame.tenantstogether.org. Based on the information submitted and its own research, Tenants Together announces Official Nominees throughout the year. Annually, members of Tenants Together vote to determine which of the Official Nominees will be inducted into the Hall of Shame.