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LA City Councilmember Wants You to Pay to Make Your Rented Apartment Earthquake Safe

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We know there are about 1,500 buildings in Los Angeles that could potentially collapse in a hearty earthquake. Now what? The dialogue on how to retrofit LA's earthquake-unsafe buildings has always been dominated by the question of how to pay for the structural updates. It seems like a non-issue; under current law, landlords can pass on up to 50 percent of the costs to their tenants. The 50-50 split is understandable when considering the shared advantages: Tenants would enjoy the luxury of renting a home that will theoretically not collapse and kill them in an earthquake, while landlords receive the benefit of not having to pay for retrofits on their own, despite being the ones who will profit for years and years from having a structure that is still standing and able to continue its existence as an income-generating property. Not satisfied with the even splitsies, Councilmember Bernard Parks has now proposed a plan under which landlords would be able to pass 100 percent of retrofit expenses on to their tenants (even in buildings under rent control), albeit, over a "reasonable" period of time, reports the LA Times. The anticipated costs could run anywhere from $8 to $50 a month (based on what similar apartment upgrades cost in San Francisco); tenants classified as "extremely low-income" would be exempt from the additional charges.

The primary advantage of being a renter is that you don't have to worry about paying for any repairs; that's the burden of the landlords, who get plenty of benefits from taking it on (if they didn't get benefits from owning property, they probably wouldn't do it). Always happy to pass on upkeep costs on their buildings, apartment owners are of course happy with this non-cost-splitting idea, but even they suggested exploring other options, probably anticipating the deluge of complaints and problems that would result from trying to implement the "solution." The LA City Council is looking for money in state bonds; other councilmembers have suggested that a tax break be offered to landlords (socialized retrofits!) to help them find the cash to pay for the repairs.
· L.A. apartment tenants would pay full quake retrofit costs under plan [LAT]
· How Will LA Retrofit 1,500 Potentially Dangerous Buildings? [LAT]