From the LA Times:
The Los Angeles city attorney's office said Wednesday that it had filed suit against a group of property owners, including the Chans' landlord, accusing them of pushing out rent-control tenants so they could upgrade the units and rent them back out at much higher rates.
The owners allegedly picked apartment buildings with care, looking in swiftly gentrifying neighborhoods that included Hollywood, downtown, Westlake and Los Feliz. They sought rent-controlled buildings, which yielded low revenue and therefore cost less to buy, authorities said. The firms purchased more than 25 properties in all, then used a variety of intimidation tactics to force the residents out, according to allegations contained in court papers.
The charges come as city officials are grappling with the fallout from the gentrification that is sweeping neighborhoods across the region.
As once-downtrodden districts become hip and desirable, rising rents leave longtime residents at risk of being squeezed out, say city officials and housing advocates.
The City Council is considering rules to slow a recent explosion in apartments being converted into condominiums, particularly in parts of the Westside and San Fernando Valley.
Since the beginning of 2001, more than 11,000 rent-controlled apartments have been taken off the rental market, according to the Los Angeles Housing Department. About 7,000 of those have disappeared in the last 18 months.
Thousands of those units were converted to condos, a perfectly legal process that has prompted protests from some longtime apartment dwellers who are being told they must buy their units or find other housing. Gentrification has also led to significantly higher rents in some newly desirable neighborhoods. In downtown, for example, lofts that five years ago went for $800 a month rent at $1,800 or more now.
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