A group of North Hollywood renters is outraged at the threat of being evicted and displaced by HGTV reality star Tarek El Moussa for a new real estate project.
El Moussa is best known for the hit HGTV renovation series, “Flip or Flop,” which he has co-hosted with his ex-wife Christina Hall since 2013. He launched a second show in 2020 called, “Flipping 101 with Tarek El Moussa.”
Residents of the rent-controlled apartment property on Hartsook Street near the Arts District said El Moussa plans to transform the nearly 100-year-old complex into a state-of-the-art residential complex.
According to El Moussa, the project, called NoHo 138, would mark the biggest real estate “flip” he’s ever attempted.
In a video the reality star posted on social media, he shared plans to build 138 units with “super modern” decor. The building will also boast a rooftop pool.
That’s when the eviction notices started showing up, tenants said. But the people who live in the building said they will fight for their homes and they’re not going anywhere until they’re able to have a serious conversation with El Moussa and his company about their future.
“We’re not leaving until we’re treated fairly,” said Naomi Clemick, a tenant.
Current residents in the rent-controlled building said the pandemic made tough times even tougher as money was tight.
The new project would not only displace residents, some of whom have been living there for nearly 50 years, but tenants said it would also bring additional gentrification to an otherwise still affordable neighborhood.
To make matters worse, residents said they’ve already suffered at the hands of their previous landlord, Arthur Aslanian, who turned to violence to try to force them out.
He was ultimately convicted on federal charges of murder-for-hire plots and various arson charges involving their North Hollywood bungalows in 2022.
“So we have one scumbag slumlord who is in jail now for murder-for-hire and arson on our building and now we have ‘TV Town’ trying to take over,” Clemick said.
Tenants said they’ve since received “Ellis Act” evictions, which essentially give landlords the unconditional right to evict tenants as a legal way to “go out of business.”
Relocation payments under the Ellis Act range from $10,000 to $30,000 per unit. The standard notice is 120 days and seniors or disabled tenants have up to one year to vacate.
Residents are now discovering that new construction is supposed to start immediately.
“We invited Tarek to come to this space, come talk to tenants,” said resident Clare Letmon. “Come hear from our senior and disabled neighbors who are going to be displaced.”
“I think capitalism can be very violent because this is what it has led to,” said resident Jonpaul Rodriguez.
The project’s website says their goal is to work closely and respectfully with the current tenants, providing proper move-out compensation and ensuring the relocation is performed according to the law.
“The City of LA Housing has sent the three remaining tenants their relocation notices and we will continue to handle any potential move out agreements if desired by the existing tenants during this period of time,” the developer said.