Highland Park tenants threaten rent strike after new owners seek steep increases


HIGHLAND PARK — A rent strike is brewing among  more than 50 tenants who find their rents might double in a Marmion Way apartment building, according to KPCC and EGP news.

Residents of Marmion Royal – a 60-unit apartment complex on Marmion Way across the street from the Highland Park Gold Line Station – face a rent hike of $1,000 after the building gets remodeled, KPCC reported. According to EGP, the tenants would also have to find another place to live during construction.

Skya Ventures and Gelt Ventures, the new owners of the building, announced the change last May, shortly after buying the property from Azusa Pacific University for $14.3 million.

Since that purchase, residents have also reported water shut-offs, power outages and the removal of satellite antennas from the roof, KPCC reported from a news release by the North East Los Angeles Alliance.

According to EGP, most of the tenants are working-class Latinos, and several receive Section 8 housing subsidies.

John Urquiza, a community organizer with the NELAA told KPCC his team is helping tenants with the rent strike:

“Denying capital and income to the owners is the only way we can bring them to the negotiating table,” Urquiza said.

EPG reports that the Rent Stabilization Ordinance does not cover this property. Those protections apply only to multi-unit buildings built before 1978; the Marmion Royal was built in 1987.

Activists and tenants held a demonstration last week similar to protests and processions held in 2014.


Sign in Spanish reads “Evictions No!”

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  1. This is an example of why rent control was instituted in the first place. Seems its time to extend rent control to buildings newer than 1978 — it doesn’t have to go all the way to present, so won’t interfere with new construction.

  2. just terrible

  3. As the owner of a small apartment building (two units) from the 1950’s, I’m totally perplexed why I am a rent controlled building, but these huge corporate apartments built afte 78 are not. I am not rich. I work hard to maintain my little building, but I cannot raise rent more than 3 percent even though my health insurance went up 11percent this year. I believe in a fair, market rent control, but ALL apartments should have it or none! Not fair at all. Raising rent 1000 a month is crazy, but totally legal in the corrupt developer-friendly works of LA rent control. Is small, mom and pop landlords are getting screwed too. I just don’t think it’s fair!!!

    • Did you not know what you were getting yourself into when you bought the building???

      • did the tenants not know what they were getting into when they rented in a non rent control building? AND do they realize that by not paying their rent they are handing the owners the easiest means of eviction there is?

        • no, you can’t play the reverse. this is awful, stupid logic. a tenant moving into highland park in 2000 could never have predicted what the neighborhood would turn into, and so quickly.

      • my guess is the guy inherited it. no investor would post something so stupid.

  4. So rent will be like $2,500? That’s pretty good – IF the new amenities come with that price tag. I paid a similar amount for my Silver Lake apartment – and in my opinion HLP has more to offer than Silver Lake.

    • No that’s not pretty good. Rent has skyrocketed which is pushing out all the original tenants of these buildings, working class Latino families. Rents are outrageous in HLP now.

  5. 2500 in hlp , ROFLMAO yea just watch out for the meth heads and gang members checking everyone

    • Oh Mando, please take your meds.

    • I think Eastsider just had an article about a local artist renting an entire house for $2,500 in HLP. This was like 8 months ago? For a recently converted luxury apartment, I don’t think $2,500 would be too far off the mark.

      • I’ve been out of the rental market for a few years, but $2500 a month seems incredibly expensive for a two-bedroom apartment in Highland Park. I know that Glendale isn’t nearly as hip as Northeast L.A., but I don’t think rents are as high there. If renters value the proximity to the Gold Line, how about Pasadena/Altadena near Lake Avenue, north of the 210 Freeway? For that matter, there are several cities further down the Gold Line (Monrovia, Glendora, Azusa) that must be more affordable. No middle-class person making less than six figures a year should be wasting $2500+ a month on rent. (In my opinion. Do what you want.)

      • Take a look at the picture. Does this stucco dingbat apartment building look “luxury” in any way?

        I agree with other posters that the 1978 cutoff for rent control is completely arbitrary and should be extended.

  6. Even though water bills, sewer bills, maintenance fees, management fees, tree trimming fees, everything GOES UP more than 3 percent, we landlords cannot raise rents more than 3 percent. How is that fair? Oh wait, if you own an apartment building built after 1978 you can raise it whatever you want, but any building built before that is 3 percent? Totally nuts! A FAIR percentage makes sense. 3 percent is not fair.

  7. The system is rigged of course, in favor of the big guy. It’s just – determining who the big guy is gets redefined by whoever is pointing the finger. My tenant thinks I am the big guy and resents that I am the landlord. I of course, think I am mom and pop and that the big guys are the ones who own these huge buildings.

    I own a duplex in Echo Park that I have had for 15 years. When I first bought it, the rent was appox $700/mo for a 2 bedroom. Now, that 2 bedroom rents for $1800. It’s been rented for 7 years.. BUT I COULD GET $3200 because it’s huge, has views and tons of parking… and is walkable. I put years of blood sweat and tears into my building. Working weekends for years fixing it up. Now, some 30-something tech chic lives there who makes 6 figures a year, is jetting off to Thailand every other month and puts her dog in doggy day care every day (do you know how much this costs?)
    So I am subsidizing this young lady’s lifestyle by $1400 a month.
    My yearly increase is capped at $36/mo.
    The water bill increase is more than that by itself.
    Tell me again why rent control is fair and what is the purpose of it again?

    • I am in the same situation as you. I could get 2 grand for an apartment I’m getting 900 for. I said FAIR. Here’s why a decent culture has rent control-
      A person living their life all of a sudden has 30 or 60 days to get up and move out because rent just tripled. Even though I’m a landlord and I own several small buildings o have indeed worked my ass off ( no handyman here…I AM the handy man) I also am a moral person with ethics and feel landlords as well as renters should have rights. That being said, I feel us landlords should be able to raise our rents to keep up with market rents. If I had been able to raise rents about ten percent each year, I could keep up with the market, but 3percent has crippled me. I just think there needs to be some common sense. Basically I’m subsidizing my tenants at this point while any building post 1978 can raise their rents 100 percent if they want. It makes no sense at all.

    • So Richard, I guess you didn’t understand rent control either before you put all that work into your duplex? A tenant’s lifestyle is none of your business as long as rent is paid on time and no contractual rules are broken.

      • I agree. Her lifestyle is none of his business. He has had a tenant paying rent on time for 15 years. There is nothing to complain about. Get over it.

      • Actually, contractual rules were broken on quite a number of occasions, flagrantly at times. But in order to evict someone, it costs about 10k in attorney fees and the tenant can stop paying rent. So it was out of my hands. Again… easy for a big biz landlord to handle but not a mom and pop like me. I get it I get it! No sympathy for me! Like I said in my original comment, depends what perspective you are coming from. Sorry folks, the rent increase should be 10%, not 3%. Like the other commenter said, it should be more fair. And you wonder why landlords convert to an airbnb. And regarding “her lifestyle”? It’s none of anyones business whose lifestyle I choose to make my business!

        • You don’t have a leg to stand on here. Your mortgage cost is probably fixed (unless you were dumb enough to get an ARM or refi?) while your property taxes are still at Y2K levels. You get tax deductions we (renters) don’t get and you are complaining about a tenant who pays her rent on time while you have an investment that’s giving you constant income at 3% growth, which would mean if you had raised it each year, your tenant’s rent would be 2200, not bad!

    • I’m in a similar situation. I own a duplex in Silver Lake, and when I purchased it in late 1997, I planned to rent the upper unit for a few years and live in the lower (darker, basement-like) unit until I recovered financially from purchasing and fixing up the place. When my tenant moved in upstairs in March 1998, his original rent was $875 a month for his two-bedroom unit. (I gave him a deal because I felt the place still needed some work, and he sounded like a handy guy – and he talked a good game and gave the impression that he’d help me fix things here and there).
      Eighteen years later, that tenant is still in the upper unit. His rent is $1400 a month plus $100 toward utilities, which I agreed to in 2002 before I had separate electrical meters installed. He is incredibly high-maintenance – he calls me when lightbulbs burn out or smoke-alarm batteries begin to chirp, and he even called me to dump over a container that had about a foot of rainwater in it. (“I just don’t feel like taking responsibility for it,” he told me.) I moved out of the lower unit in 2008, rented a studio for two years, and then bought a small fixer-upper in 2010.)

      I realize I’m still in a good position, and if landlording gets to be too much for me, I have options – I can always sell, or pay him $14,000+ to move out. I’ve learned a lot about construction, the housing code, landlord-tenant law, and human nature, and I value the experiences I’ve had, but it has not been easy. Being a rental-property owner – a law-abiding, decent one – is challenging, and rent control adds another layer of difficulty to it, but we do have options that renters often don’t have.

  8. It’s ironic how a rent controlled city like Los Angeles is one of the least affordable, similar to other rent controlled cities. Most economists agree that laws which cap or regulate rents are counterproductive. Most cities have ended rent control.

  9. People ripping on “gentrifiers” forget that we/they have to pay $600K to even just buy a small little house in LA. Crazy outrageous prices affect us all. Except the super rich of course.

  10. I worked in property development before I retired in 2010. The developer that paid $14 million for this building doesn’t care if these tenants pay rent. In fact they would prefer them not to as it would be easier for them to proceed with eviction proceedings. You think this big Corp even wants the prior tenants? They bought this building to rehab it and make a return on their investment, if the tenants don’t pay it’d be easier for them to kick them out.

  11. As a owner of multiple units there needs to be STRICTER laws and rent control in the tenants favor.

    We need a rent CAP.

    We need laws that look at tenants as human beings, not disposable pieces of trash.

    There are lots of elderly, families, etc that all live in these buildings and you are a piece of shit if you don’t look at their lives that are built around their home as having value.

    ALL residential and business units NO MATTER WHAT YEAR should have rent control on top of added rights per every quarter of a decade.

    I look as my tenants as people who deserve livable conditions. If you want to be some dumbass businessman invest your money in something like the stock market, hedge etc

    • So true! There ARE many of us landlords who see our tenants as humans, not pawns. Rent control needs to extend to All buildings, not just pre 1978. Totally ridiculous.

    • There are good landlords and there are bad landlords. Just like there are good tenants and bad tenants. We have a tenant that purposely never pays on time and right when we begin eviction proceedings, we receive the bare minimum. Always same excuses on why rent is never paid on time, etc. The list goes on and on. Everyone has their own experience I am sure, but not everyone is the same.

    • Wow. THANK YOU!

  12. I’m all for gentrification of HLP but $1000 increase is robbery

  13. I’ll never understand why 1978 is frozen in time. Seems to me that the year before which rent control applies should be a rolling X number of years in the past.

    • That would make a lot more sense.

    • It really takes forever to build in LA. The lot across the street from me in HP has been vacant for 2 years, just recently got a notice for a community hearing on the planned 4 unit construction.

      If we want more housing, we need to roll back the red tape.

    • 1978 is the year prop. 13 came into play and changed the course of California real estate and taxes forever, both for good and bad.

  14. Those apartments are terrible looking and can’t be much better on the inside. It will be a boost to the entire community when they are knocked down and replaced with market rate housing.

    • Precious coffee

      Correct. These monstrosities became breeding grounds for multi generation public assistance families, gangs and other social ills. Scrape it off the earth.

  15. Kicking old and under waged people out to make the community better…..wow. WIKED MON

  16. Anyone living in an apartment for more than 10 years, needs to pull up their pants and move on. Holy Sh*t people get a life! You do realize there are plenty of other great places to live other than LA. Life-term renters usually turn into victimizing, entitled scum bags that want everyone to wipe their own ass. Thus, this unsuitable battle between landlords and tenants that the city has pitted between them with these unfair pro-renter laws. Become a landlord first, otherwise you don’t know what it takes.

    • So true!!!

    • When you live comfortably and responsibly for 10 years and someone pushes you out into a rental market where you have to pay triple on a salary that hasn’t even doubled, then you’ll know what it takes. We don’t need to be landlords to know about hard work and underpay. When landlords overcharge, the leech from the rest of the economy around them because renters are too financially stressed to spend money elsewhere. Quite frankly landlords should be careful with their lack of sensitivity and GREED. Maybe all of us tenants will wake up and start rallying for a new rent control law. There’s more of us than you.

  17. These dumb tenants are signing their own eviction papers but not paying. It is in fact one of the only ways to legally evict tenants in LA.

  18. Precious coffee

    Lancaster must have its charms.

  19. Maybe better renter laws in Lancaster?? Pants up, or move out. Lol. (I’m not anti owner btw)

  20. The sad thing is that there was no mechanism for warning and preparing the residents. Azusa Pacific made no provisions for them. This is Transit Oriented Development TOD zoned. How many municipal agents saw study after study? It’s written into 2 of the 3 conflicting HLP plans but not a word. It’s the middle class who will lose out by being outpriced of the housing market by foreign cash buyers who are creating the vicious cycle of rising costs as they offshore their money in real estate.

  21. first chance i have Im going to sell and going to say good by to LA AFTER 30 YRS OF FIXING HOMES FOR MY DEAR TENANTS ,the city had to get in the middle and now even if I donot want raise the rent I wonnt be able sell because the low rents. next I happened to buy at the right time for the right price 4 yrs ago but rents were low and now here comes the city again 3% increase per yr and watter bill was $300 and now is $800 with no sign of slowing . It is so bad that(out of 3 units)i have to use the rent from one unit just to pay the water, soon it will not be enoph . RENT CONTROL = HIGHER RENT

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