Landlord Tries to Solve Housing Shortage by Turning Triplex into 44 Rentals

Thursday, July 05, 2012


In a sign that the state’s housing shortage isn’t going away any time soon, a Southern California landlord was charged with turning a triplex into an illegal hive of 44 rental units a mile from the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and apparently found tenants willing to live there.

The 53-count misdemeanor complaint against John Callaghan alleged he endangered the lives of his tenants with faulty electrical wiring, a lack of smoke detectors and poorly maintained fire extinguishers. The Los Angeles Times reported in December that he had stuffed dozens of tenants into a building permitted for three units, charging each of them $500 a month for rooms that sometimes lacked heat.

“I've never seen anything on that scale,” said Amos Hartston, a senior counsel at Inner City Law Center, an advocacy group that is representing the interests of the tenants. The L.A. City Council has voted to pay $317,000 to relocate families living there and the city’s housing department filed a lien against the property to cover the costs.

Callaghan was also also charged with performing illegal work at a single-family home he owned that was turned into 14 separate rental units.

Although unemployment remains high and economic recovery from the crash in 2008 is sporadic at best, a recent report from USC's Lusk Center for Real Estate predicts that Los Angeles County rents will rise 7.9% in 2012 and 9.8% by the end of 2013. This is coming on top of a 6.2% increase in  rents last year.

“Rental affordability is a huge problem in coastal California—in San Diego, Orange and L.A. counties,” according to Lusk Center Director Richard Green. “If you are a typical renter, you are paying too much money for your rent in the sense that it is putting a real stress on you financially.”

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:

Prosecutors Allege Landlord Put Tenants’ Lives at Risk  (by David Zahniser and Jessica Garrison, Los Angeles Times)

Southern California Rental Market Getting More Expensive (by Alejandro Lazo, Los Angeles Times)

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