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Santa Monica Landlord to Pay City, Tenant $12,000 in Harassment Battle

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

By Lookout Staff

January 4, 2013 – A Santa Monica landlord must pay $12,000 to the City and to the longtime tenant of a rent control unit he is accused of harassing, City officials announced Wednesday.

The court judgment obtained by the City last month against George Bassiry and his manager, Gilbert Rodriguez, requires the two to attend fair housing training and to end direct contact with the tenant, who has lived in the unit for 32 years.

In addition Bassiry, who owns the 18-unit apartment building on Hollister Avenue, must pay a combined total of $12,000.00 to the tenant and the City, including $5,000 – the statutory damages provided by law – for the alleged violations.

Bassiry and Rodriguez agreed to the judgment on December 20, the day the City filed a tenant harassment lawsuit against them.

“This case involved a landlord’s campaign of baseless eviction attempts aimed at the tenant,” said Deputy City Attorney Gary Rhoades.

The suit, filed in Santa Monica Superior Court, alleged that Bassiry and Rodriguez “attempted to get a senior citizen tenant to vacate her longtime rent-controlled apartment, through a series of baseless eviction notices, lawsuits and threats,” according to City officials.

Santa Monica law prohibits landlords from inducing rent-controlled tenants to vacate their homes through fraud, intimidation or coercion; as well as through false evictions, Rhoades said.

“This is exactly the kind of misconduct the Tenant Harassment law was designed to prevent,” he added.

The tenant obtained the pro bono services of the Legal Aid Foundation and the law firm Gibson Dunn & Crutcher to help defend her in the evictions.

“The tenant forced Bassiry to drop all three lawsuits,” Rhoades said.

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