Landlord to Pay $1.05 Million to Former Tenants Over Complaints

An Antelope Valley landlord, described as a slumlord by a former associate, will pay $1.05 million to 38 former tenants who said they were trapped in mold- and vermin-infested apartments in Palmdale and Lancaster, it was reported today.

Edgar Reinoso, who owns about 20 rental properties in Antelope Valley, decided to settle two lawsuits, each for $525,000, Robb Strom, the attorney for the plaintiffs, told the Antelope Valley Press.

This was the third time that million-dollar-plus settlements had been awarded against the landlord.

Tenants in both cases complained that Reinoso's properties -- one on the 400 block of East Lancaster Boulevard and one on the 1100 block of East Avenue Q-12 -- were mismanaged and that tenants' complaints about vermin, broken appliances and mold were never addressed.

"There were cockroaches crawling on kids at night," Strom told the Antelope Valley Press. "They were receiving virtually not meaningful response from the landlord every time they complained. Some tenants were living in conditions where there was no heat in the winter and no air conditioning in the summer."

Reinoso, who has been the target of similar lawsuits over the years, will pay only $125,000 of the $1.05 million, with his insurance company covering the rest. He said the tenants defrauded him.

"They're taking advantage of us and the insurance companies," Reinoso told the Antelope Valley Press. "We have been defrauded by the lawyer and his clients. That's our position."

Strom told the newspaper that the money will make and has made a big difference in tenants' lives.

"Most could not afford to move even if they wanted to," he said. "Moving would mean coming up with first (month's rent), last and deposit."

Reinoso settled a similar case for $3 million in 2006 and one for $1.07 million in 2007, the newspaper reported.

In the latest Palmdale suit, which was settled March 9, the case against Reinoso included testimony from Steve Donell, who managed the apartment complex in the 1100 block of East Avenue Q-12.

"My impression was that Mr. Reinso was a slumlord," Donell said in a November 2008 deposition in the case. "He told us to rent to illegal aliens who would be scared to make complaints."
 

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