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California: What Authority Do I Report SUSPECTED Rent-Profiteering/Skimming To?

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  • California: What Authority Do I Report SUSPECTED Rent-Profiteering/Skimming To?

    I live in a 6-unit apartment building & have a nightmare neighbor who has done several unprovoked, extremely malicious things throughout the nearly 9 years that I've lived in the building. This neighbor has lived in the building for 25+ years and doesn't have a job.

    I became friendly with the nightmare neighbor's roommates and both of them told me that she (the nightmare neighbor) is charging them each $675/month for rent.

    The nightmare neighbor recently had to replace one of her roommates and for some inexplicable reason, she posted the ad that she put on Craigslist on her front door. Her ad listed the room for rent at $825 per month.

    Here's the rub: Given that all residential units in the city where I live are rent controlled, in addition to the fact that my nightmare neighbor has lived in her flat for more than twice the amount of time that I've lived in mine, it serves to reason that her rent is probably significantly less than mine, which is only $1353.00/month. That means my evil neighbor is charging one roommate $675/month and the other roommate $825/month to live in a flat that the total rent on is less than what I pay for my flat. So she's not only living rent-free off of the backs of her roommates, but actually making a tidy profit from over-charging them every month.

    Granted, this isn't really any of my business - except that this awful woman has made an absolute nuisance of herself in my life. She's destroyed more than one of my relationships with previous roommates by telling them out-and-out, ugly lies about me, she's called the Dept. of Public Works and recruited another tenant in the building (who I've never even met) to call the Dept. of Public Works and made several false complaints in an effort to have me fined, (which actually worked once and cost me $150) - and that's just to name a few of the nasty things she's done - entirely without any provocation whatsoever on my part. My theory is that because she makes enough profit off of overcharging her roommates and therefore doesn't have to work, she's literally got nothing better to do with her time than to be antagonistic.

    I would like nothing better than for this nightmare neighbor to just go away and leave me alone. That's why I'm considering reporting her rent over-charging scam to the authorities so that they can investigate the claim and if found to be true, she'd have to make financial restitution to every roommate she's ever over-charged, which would add up to a substantial enough amount of money to cause her to be unable to afford to remain living in the building.

    I know that 'rent profiteering' or 'rent skimming' isn't legal, but I don't know what authority governs such things - city gov't? State gov't? All I know is that 'rent profiteering' is not a criminal offense, but rather, its a civil offense. Does anyone have any information on where I can report this nightmare neighbor's nefarious activities? I'd be very grateful and I'm sure that her roommates would be, too.

  • #2
    First off, let me say that I do not practice in this area, so I am speaking as a layman, here.

    If it is a civil offense, then the only people who could sue for it would be the affected parties - that is, the roommates. You would not be involved.

    Rent control is usually a matter of city ordinances.
    Megan E. Ross, Esq.
    Law Offices of Michael Tracy

    Disclaimer: The above response is a general statement of the law and should not be relied upon as legal advice. It only assumes the facts that are stated in the message. The above response does not serve to form an attorney-client relationship.