Tenants receive relocation money from owner of condemned South LA building


Tenants moved out of a condemned office building that was never approved for people to live in.

City inspectors say the owner, identified as Ron Perlstein repeatedly violated housing codes. His attorney had no comment Thursday.

As the city attorney investigates the property on the 5700 block of South Hoover, Perlstein agreed to pay up. By law, violators must provide tenants funds to relocate and find legal housing.

Thursday, the checks came in: $141,000 for nearly a dozen tenants.

The tenants were saved by advocates at the Inner City Law Center with support from the L.A. Housing Authority.

But how many others are at risk in other illegally converted buildings? The Los Angeles Fire Department reports 13 fatalities this year, occupants who lived in converted garages.

As for commercial buildings like the one on South Hoover, there is no program for them to be inspected the way residential apartments are. Landlords rent them out "under the radar," until someone complains or someone dies.

The L.A. Department of Building and Safety told Eyewitness News they get 1,000 complaints a year regarding commercial units. The Inner City Law Center says they can't keep up. They are just glad that these tenants are now savvier, and safer.

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