LA Property Owners Accused of Illegally Listing Units on Airbnb

City Attorney Mike Feuer said Monday he is seeking criminal charges against the owner of a four-unit apartment building in the Fairfax area, alleging the formerly rent-controlled property was improperly listed on the short-term rental site, Airbnb.

City attorneys filed six counts in Los Angeles Superior Court last Monday against Carol Jean Alsman, owner of the property at 500 N. Genesee Ave.

They accused Alsman of violating city law by failing to give the former tenants the opportunity to re-rent the units before they were put back on the market.

The other counts allege Alsman violated zoning rules, failed to obtain the proper building permits and did not comply with orders from the housing department.

Feuer also detailed three civil cases in which he sued the owners of three other rent-controlled properties that he alleges were illegally converted into hotels.

City attorneys filed a lawsuit against property owner Carl Lambert, alleging he refused to comply with orders telling him to stop operating Venice Suites, a 32-unit apartment building at 417 Ocean Front Walk, as a hotel and advertising it as one on the Internet.

Feuer also sued the owners and managers of Venice Beach Suites, 1305 Ocean Front Walk, alleging that William Andrew Layman, Rose Layman and Matthew Moore advertised the 30-unit apartment building online as a hotel. The city

housing department's orders were also ignored by the operators, city attorneys allege.

A third lawsuit was filed against George Panoussis, the owner of Hollywood Dream Suites Hotel, a 59-unit apartment building in Hollywood that Feuer alleges is being operated as a hotel without the proper permits.

All three civil cases were filed Friday in Superior Court, with city attorneys asking that the properties be placed under a receivership to monitor the process of bringing them under compliance. Attorneys are also seeking civil penalties and restitution for former tenants.

Feuer said these recent legal actions are part of a concerted effort by his office to stem the tide of residential units being converted into hotels and short-term rentals, and to restore the units as affordable housing.

Due to a "shortage of affordable housing, illegally converting rental units to hotels or short-term units has got to stop," Feuer said. "And my office is going to intervene to preserve rent-stabilized units and to restore those units when we allege they have been unlawfully taken off the market."

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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