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Making a Fortune on Misery: Lawyer Claims Over 200,000 Evictions

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Notorious Eviction Attorney Dennis Block Fuels Eviction Crisis

by Patrick Range McDonald for Housing is a Human Right

Eviction attorney Dennis Block boasts to have “evicted more than tenants than any other human being on the planet Earth.” He describes rent control as a “cancer,” and cheers on rising rents on Twitter. He’s made a fortune off the misery of others. Unsurprisingly, he’s playing a key role in fueling California’s growing eviction crisis.

Block has led the unscrupulous response to AB 1482, the anti-rent gouging bill recently signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom. The attorney has publicly advised landlords to deliver no-fault evictions to long-time tenants and replace them with new tenants who must pay dramatically higher rents. Block’s troubling scheme is a way for landlords to increase rents before renter protections in AB 1482 start on January 1, 2020. Landlords are listening to him.

In cities throughout Los Angeles County, scores of tenants are receiving sudden eviction notices. The eviction crisis has prompted the Los Angeles City Council to likely approve a citywide moratorium on evictions. Without naming him, L.A. council members, at a recent council meeting, singled out Block for fueling evictions. He has long had a notorious reputation among housing activists.

Based in Los Angeles, Block proudly claims that he’s evicted than 200,000 tenants since 1976 — a staggering number that’s larger than the population of Pasadena. His speciality? Kicking people out of rent-stabilized apartments so landlords can significantly raise rents with new tenants.

In 2007, the Los Angeles Times reported that Block attempted to evict a disabled woman from her rent-stabilized apartment in Hollywood because she was a few days late with her rent. Her lawyers said Block and the landlord’s true motivation was to remove her so they could bring in a new tenant and dramatically raise the rent. A judge stopped the tactic, and the woman was allowed to stay.

A constant self-promoter, Block regularly holds seminars, tapes podcasts, and posts on Twitter and Facebook, offering up eviction strategies, such as his most recent response to AB 1482. In 2018, Block was a vocal opponent of Proposition 10, the statewide ballot measure that sought to expand rent control in California.

Blocks hates renter protections — and tweets obsessively.

On June 5, 2017, when tweeting an article about rising rents and homelessness, the eviction attorney wrote glibly: “Rents going up! Good news for landlords.”

On May 9, 2017, when tweeting an article about East LA tenants and activists marching for rent control protections, Block dismissively wrote: “Rent control is really just Tenant Welfare and this cancer keeps trying to expand.”

On July 9, 2017, when tweeting an article about the street-level impacts of steep rent hikes by real estate investors, the eviction attorney nevertheless urged: “Investors – Raise your rents while you can.”

And on February 9, 2018, Block bitterly complained: “I am so frustrated with tenants demanding affordable housing…”

Block says evicting tenants is his “patriotic duty” — and it’s paid off handsomely. The attorney lives in exclusive Calabasas, where he owns a 7,779-square-foot mansion with 6 bedrooms and 6 baths and a tennis court that Zillow estimates to be worth $3.4 million.

Block appears to be drumming up even more business by advising landlords to evict tenants before AB 1482 kicks in.

Patrick Range McDonald was a longtime staff writer at L.A. Weekly, where he won numerous awards. He’s now an advocacy journalist for Housing Is A Human Right.

(Reprinted with permission)

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