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LA Trying to Crack Down on Second-Rate Landlord Repairs

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A new pilot program is aimed at getting tenant repairs done right the first time

A new pilot program approved yesterday by the Los Angeles City Council will add an element of surprise to the process that a landlord goes through when making repairs to a unit. Under the new Housing and Community Investment Department pilot, reports KPCC, a city inspector will show up before the repair is done to verify the complaint with the tenant who made it, then come back after the issue is fixed, to make sure it was done right.

This is a change in the flow of work; today, landlords get a 15-day heads-up before an inspector comes out to look at repairs. The landlord won't have that warning beforehand now. A rep for a landlord group says surprise inspections are "not fair or professional." He suggests giving landlords three days' warning before an inspector comes by, but, at least for the pilot, that's not what's going to happen.

The pilot is being tested out in "eastern and central" LA, where a sizable chunk of repair complaints come from. It also stipulates that landlords who have "a record of poor repairs" work with the city to get guidance on how to make proper repairs.

The newly adopted program attempts to respond to complaints from tenants groups who say that it's hard to prove when repairs are done poorly because an inspector never saw the issue before it was "fixed." They mention that some landlords deal with serious issues like leaks or vermin by just covering or painting over the affected area—not at all kosher considering that tenants definitely have a right not to live in a vermin-infested apartment.