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Rent escrow law held constitutional

October 29th, 2013 by Joseph William Singer

The Ninth Circuit has upheld a city administrative program that regulated landlords whose buildings violated the housing code by allowing tenants to pay a reduced rent into a publicly administered escrow fund which is paid to the landlord once the violations are corrected.    Sylvia Landfield Trust v. City of Los Angeles, 2013 WL 4779664 (9th Cir. 2013). Four landlords challenged the program as a violation of their substantive rights under the due process clause. The court upheld the program because it was rationally related to the legitimate government goal of enforcing the housing code to protect tenants from unsafe conditions.The landlords had claimed that the tenants caused the problems, that their properties were not sufficiently substandard to warrant application of the law, and that the program was intended to enrich the government. The court rejected all these claims, noting that the law allowed landlords to prove that tenants were responsible for the conditions and that the program was designed to promote compliance with safety regulations, not to generate income for the government. The program therefore did not arbitrarily deprive the landlords of their liberty or property; nor was it taken ‘with deliberate indifference toward…constitutional rights.”

Posted in Consumer protection, Due process, Leaseholds | Comments Off on Rent escrow law held constitutional

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