Margaret Beavers an 86-year-old apartment resident was about to be evicted because she didn’t have a computer. On September 1, 2011 Peggy Jones and her Jones & Jones Management Group the owners of 34 apartment complexes in the City of Los Angeles issued a Change In Terms letter. “Jones & Jones is proud to announce that we are going GREEN. Please help our planet by joining our effort in eliminating the need for unnecessary and excessive paperwork by paying your rent on line…This letter is intended as a 90 day notice for the purpose of modifying the terms of your tenancy Effective December1, 2011,you will be required to pay your ON-LINE.”
This letter sent shock waves throughout the disabled, elderly community and the non-online residents of the thousands of apartment units owned by Jones & Jones. No alternative to the traditional pay by check, cashier check, money order or credit card was offered. Many tenants do not own computers, are not computer literate and cannot afford the tangential e.g.. Internet service providers, anti-versus, repairs etc. Nor have checking accounts and pay their bills with money orders or cash. The possibility of mass eviction was apparent. There are many long-term elderly residents of the Woodlake Manor a 228 unit building on Martin Luther King Blvd in South-central Los Angeles owned by Jones & Jones. These elderly resident immediately called a series of tenant meetings. They choose to challenge the legality of this “Change In Tenancy”. Many residents are on fixed income as well as low income. Given the high foreclosure rates there has been a mass stampede to the rental market with increase credit, employment and other requirements that they would not qualify.
Going green? 228 units paying by check once a month a 3’” x 6” check x 228 units = 76 pieces of paper at 2cents per page =$1.52. So for $1.52 per month Jones & Jones is going to evict dozens of elderly & low-income residents at the Woodlake Manor and hundreds of elderly throughout Los Angeles under the banner of Going Green. Where will they go ? Skid Row ! What about stopping Elderly abuse. What about ending Digital segregation? Ironically at the Woodlake Manor in the month of February, Jones & Jones posted on the 228 residents doors over 13 notices x 228 residents or over 2964 pages. Going green? Please !
Clearly this is a policy of evicting long term tenants to increase rents by evicting long term tenants thereby being able to set new rental rates at the present market value based on LA rent control regulations.
Residents began fighting back with a series of meetings and confrontations with the on-site management. Contact with the L.A.Rent Stabilization Board and a review of their ordinance was quite explicit. It clearly prohibits a landlord from changing any of the existing terms unless both tenant and landlord agreed to the new change. The Los Angeles Housing Department provided Jones & Jones with a letter advising them that the new rent online only payment was illegal, but Jones & Jones still refuse to rescind the policy. Tenants through their Woodlake Manor Tenants Association contacted the Coalition of Economic Survival, which assisted in providing legal support for a lawsuit.
Jones & Jones in response issued a waiver for those protestors but the waiver can be rescinded at a moments notice and does not address the fundamental issue for all tenants throughout Los Angeles.
On March 5 a lawsuit was filed by the Bet Tzedek Legal Services in the L.A. County Superior Court against Jones & Jones Management Company on behalf of tenants who are illegally being required to pay their rent online over the Internet with no alternative means being accepted.
Further California State Senator Ted Lieu ( D-Torrance) introduced Senate bill (SB) 1055 that would require landlords throughout California to continue to accept rent check or money order.
Numerous studies have documented that forced relocation on the elderly even with relocation assistance causes the increase in stress, illness and deaths when the elderly are broken from their traditional enviorments, churches, friends, medical care , shopping, etc. Jones & Jones doesn’t provide relocation assistance for evictions. Jones & Jones is guilty of elderly abuse.
In addition given the recession many younger residents donot have the resources e.g. banking, Internet accounts etc to pay on line.
The quest for profits by the 1% should not be off the lives of the elderly., and low income.
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