Many of you may remember the horrific damage done by the 6.7 magnitude earthquake that shook Northridge, CA in 1994, or maybe even Loma Prieta during 1989. Thankfully, Los Angelenos haven’t been hit that hard since, but there is still much work to be done.

What many considered long overdue, on November 22, 2015, the Los Angeles City Council put into effect the Earthquake Hazard Reduction Ordinance, establishing mandatory standards to reduce earthquake hazards and damage. The law determines that seismic retrofitting on soft story buildings is an effective method of work that benefits the structural integrity and safety of the whole building. It protects the safety of Los Angeles residents and properties alike. The City has also determined owners and tenants of soft story buildings should share the cost of work equally. This being the case, the bad news is the mandatory work can be costly. The good news is lawmakers are seeking financial aid options such as tax breaks, and the Rent Stabilization Ordinance can help you to recover costs. So how exactly does the RSO affect cost recovery?


For Owners*:

·      By now you should have received an Order to Comply (sent out approx. April 2016) to have your soft building inspected by a contractor.

·      You need a waiver OR a Tenant Habitability Plan is required.

·      The RSO does not require the landlord to obtain tenant’s approval for improvement.

·      Seismic Retrofit Work is not cause for eviction.

·      Failure to abide by the THP may result in denial of a cost recovery application.


For Tenants*:

 ·     Seismic Retrofit Work Program requires tenants to be given a THP.

 ·      Failure to abide by an accepted THP is a legal reason for eviction.

 ·      Tenants must pay an HCIDLA approved rent increase once proper notice is provided by the landlord


SRW Cost Recovery*:

·      The SRW allows for a 50% pass-through.

·      The maximum pass-through rate is $38 per month for a max of 120 months.

·      Costs are amortized over 120 months.

·      Costs are divided equally by the number of units benefitted.

·      Interest cost is based on 10-Year Treasury, plus 1%

·      If the permissible pass-through exceeds the cap, the cap is collected until the full cost approved by the Department is collected.

·      The rent increase is a TEMPORARY rent surcharge and cannot be added as a permanent rent increase (Note: No cost recovery rent increase can be given until the current lease expires, unless the lease provides otherwise.)


*Information provided by the Housing and Community Investments Department of Los Angeles Community Meeting on Seismic Retrofitting Work, attended on November 9, 2016.


If you’d like to know if your property is a soft story building you can find out here.


For more information on the Seismic Retrofitting Work Program and for an online application, visit the Housing and Community Investments Department of Los Angeles.


Need more help?


Contact the Rent Stabilization Hotline: 866-557-RENT(7368)

Attend a public meeting (

Posted by Ben Nicolas on


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