Recently, the California Courts of Appeal reviewed a case that looked into who can be a qualified tenant under the Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Ordinance. City of Los Angeles v. Superior Court (Wade) offers an interesting look at who may be considered disabled for purposes of determining a “qualified tenant.”

The definition of who is a “qualified tenant” is an important distinction under Los Angeles’ rent control ordinance because a qualified tenant is entitled to a higher relocation amount than an “eligible tenant.” A qualified tenant includes a tenant who is “disabled.”

Here, the Tenant had rented an unpermitted room as an apartment unit from the Landlord. In 2012, the City of Los Angeles issued a Substandard Order requiring the Landlord to evict the Tenant. The Landlord filed a Declaration of Intent to Evict in Order to Comply with the City’s Order. In response, the City’s relocation services provider determined that the Tenant was disabled and was considered a “qualified tenant” entitled to $18,300 to relocate. The Landlord appealed the decision, and the City found that the Tenant was not a “qualified tenant” and only entitled to $9,650 in relocation.

The Tenant argued that he had an “orthopedic disability impairing personal mobility.” The City had found that the Tenant was working part time as an actor and did not require special care or facilities in his home. The Tenant filed a writ, and at trial, the Court found that the tenant was a “qualified tenant.”

The LARSO defines a “qualified tenant” as a person who is handicapped as defined in Section 50072 of the California Health & Safety Code or disabled as defined by Title 42 of the United States Code Section 423.

Health & Safety Code Section 50072 states: “Handicapped means a family in which the head of the household is suffering from an orthopedic disability impairing personal mobility or a physical disability affecting his or her ability to obtain employment or a single person with such a physical disability, where the family or person requires special care or facilities in the home.”

Here, on appeal, the Court found that although the Tenant may have suffered a “disability,” because he was single and not a head of household, the disability required “special care or facilities in the home.” The Court found that the tenant did not require special care or facilities in his home. In reviewing Section 50072, the Court found that there are two categories: a head of household and a single person.

In sum, the Court of Appeals found that the Tenant was not eligible to be a “qualified tenant.”

This case is important for Los Angeles landlords who are required under the LARSO to pay relocation. If you have questions regarding what constitutes a “qualified tenant” or “eligible tenant,” please contact Anthony at 818-839-5220.