“hrcla.org” is dedicated to fighting the abuses of REAP in the greater Los Angeles area.

What is REAP?

 
The REAP (Rent Escrow Account Program) was set up by the LAHD (Los Angeles Housing Department) as a mechanism to force housing providers to make necessary repairs to residential buildings in the event that the landlord did not make such repairs of his or her own accord.
California State Civil Code 1941 states:
A: If within a reasonable time after written or oral notice to the landlord or his agent, as defined in subdivision (a) of Section 1962, of dilapidations rendering the premises untenantable which the landlord ought to repair, the landlord neglects to do so, the tenant may repair the same himself where the cost of such repairs does not require an expenditure more than one month’s rent of the premises and deduct the expenses of such repairs from the rent when due, or the tenant may vacate the premises, in which case the tenant shall be discharged from further payment of rent, or performance of other conditions as

of the date of vacating the premises. This remedy shall not be available to the tenant more than twice in any 12-month period.

B: For the purposes of this section, if a tenant acts to repair and deduct after the 30th day following notice, he is presumed to have acted after a reasonable time. The presumption established by this subdivision is a rebuttable presumption affecting the burden of producing evidence and shall not be construed to prevent a tenant from repairing and deducting after a shorter notice if all the circumstances require shorter notice.

State law does not provide for financial rewards for the tenant in the event of a landlord’s unwillingness or inability to correct a problem with the housing unit.  The REAP program, however, does.  State Law says that required repairs can be taken out of rent, but REAP actually provides rent reductions to the tenant, above and beyond the cost of required repairs.

As an additional hammer, REAP allows the remainder of the rent to be paid to the City, as opposed to the landlord, to supposedly be placed in an Escrow account.  The theory is then that the landlord can produce receipts spent to make necessary repairs, and receive rents returned to him or her in such amount.

The remainder of this collected money is supposed to be returned to the landlord after the unit is removed from the program.  Thousands upon thousands of dollars of City fees will be debited from this account prior to return of funds, if any are remaining.

A unit can be placed into REAP for as little as cracked caulk around a sink or tub, or a missing window screen.  These cases are documented, and are not an exaggeration.  LAHD Code Enforcement Inspectors brag that they can put any unit into the REAP program, if they so wish.

Additionally, the rent discount provides a major incentive to tenants to “assist” the LAHD in keeping their unit in the program.  With rent discounts of up to 40%, tenants are encouraged to remove a smoke detector battery or window screen prior to re-inspection, thus extending their discount for several months.  Many landlords have been unable to escape the program, and eventually lose their buildings to foreclosure.

The politicians of the City of Los Angeles and the LAHD have effectively transformed a program intended to protect tenants into a profit generator for their overburdened and failing city government.  Along with Parking Enforcement, the LAHD is the only other City government agency that produces income for the City.  As a result, these two departments have grown enormously in the last few years.

What are we doing about it?

FIGHT BACK

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The first step in fighting an unjust government is always to amass an army, and that is what we hope that this website can accomplish.  We would like to hear your story, whether you are currently in REAP, about to enter REAP, have managed to escape REAP, or have lost your building due to the burden of REAP.

Over 2000 properties are currently in REAP, and many of those do not deserve to be there.  Thousands more are past victims.  Our goal is to hear from all of you.

By creating a community and comparing notes, we hope to shine a light on the patently illegal activities of the LAHD.  In addition to being distinctly in conflict with California State Law, we know that the LAHD and the City of Los Angeles are using the REAP program to extract fines from landlords far out of proportion with what is fair and just.  Furthermore, we suspect that they are using the program to actively force building owners into bankruptcy.

We will be filing a lawsuit in the coming months, based on the cases that we have already heard.  Should we find enough malfeasance on the part of the LAHD, committed against enough building owners, we will pursue a class action lawsuit.  If our suspicions are correct, the damages for this lawsuit will be in the tens of millions of dollars, if not more.

Our intention is to shut down the illegal REAP program entirely, and replace it with a fair complaint-based program that protects tenants, without giving bureaucrats and politicians the ability to excessively penalize housing providers.

We also intend to send a clear message to the LAHD and the City of Los Angeles that unfair fees on minority segments of the populous are not a viable income source to keep their bloated bureaucracy afloat.

Please share your contact information and story with us; and if you wish, we greatly appreciate any legal, or strategic assistance as well.  We have a legal staff in place, but we appreciate any help that you are willing to provide.  We look forward to hearing from you!

Contacts Page