Images of the 1994 earthquake remain heavily ingrained in the minds of many Angelenos: the collapsed soft-story apartment buildings, the red-and yellow-tags, the squashed cars, and the landlords and tenants who desperately turned to government for financial aid to rebuild and help find temporary homes to move into while repairs were made. In what was considered to be long overdue, the City Council recently passed the Earthquake Hazard Reduction Ordinance to establish mandatory standards for earthquake hazard reduction in wood-frame buildings with soft, weak, or open-front walls and existing non-ductile concrete buildings. In addition, City Council has limited the share of costs related to mandatory seismic retrofitting that can be passed from owners of rent-stabilized properties to their tenants to 50% of the total cost of the work required.
Is my property subject to the new Seismic Retrofit mandate?
Effective November 22,2015, the City of Los Angeles established mandatory standards for earthquake hazard reduction in existing wood-frame buildings with soft, weak, or open-front walls and existing non-ductile concrete building. The Department of Building and Safety identified approximately 12,000 buildings that fall under this statute (Ordinance No. 183893) and mailed courtesy notices to these property owners in March 2016. In brief, the Ordinance applies to all existing buildings of wood-frame construction subject to the Rent Stabilization Ordinance. Buildings containing 3 dwelling units or less are exempt from this mandate, if the building is used solely for residential purposes.
What should I do if I receive a courtesy notice?
A courtesy notice is an advance notice that your property may have to be seismically reinforced. The advance notice gives you the opportunity to prepare yourself financially and locate contractors to do the work that will be required once you get the Notice to Comply (Order). Building and Safety inspectors will be visiting the identified buildings to issue Orders beginning in May 2016. Priority 1 is to cite buildings containing 16 or more dwelling units. Priority 2 are buildings with 3 stories or more containing fewer than 16 units. Priority 3 are buildings that don’t fall under Priority 1 or 2. The Orders will rollout over a 2-year period.
Got the Order! Now what do I do?
1. Submit a structural analysis of the building to the Department of Building and Safety within two (2) years of receiving the Order prepared by an architect or structural engineer, that demonstrates the building, as is, meets or exceeds the requirements of the Ordinance, proposes structural alteration of the building that meets or exceeds Ordinance requirements, or plans for demolishing the building. .
2. Obtain all necessary permits for rehabilitation or demolition with three and a half (3 1/2) years after the service of the Order.
3. Complete construction or demolition work under all necessary permits within 7 years of the Order.
4. After permits are pulled, it is required for you to fill out the Tenant Habitability Plan (THP) online application.
5. After the work has been completed the owner may file a Seismic Retrofit Work Program application for cost recovery.
How can I recover Seismic Retrofit costs?
The Seismic Retrofit Work Cost Recovery Program became effective February 12, 2016. It allows for a temporary rent surcharge to tenants based on:
1. A pass-through of up to 50% of total seismic retrofit costs divided equally among all rental units, if approved by LAHD.
2. A maximum rent increase of $38 per month for 120 months. The recovery period may be extended until the full approved amount is collected.
How to apply
To submit an application:
Use the Cost Recovery Seismic Retrofit Work online application which applies the relevant formula and completes the calculations. Any supporting documentation should be uploaded to the online application. Any documents that you were unable to upload should be mailed and received by the Department (P.O. Box 57398, Los Angeles, CA 90057-0398) within 30 days of filling the application. For your convenience, a mailing label will be provided once you “SUBMIT” the application.
Applications MUST be submitted within 12 months of completing the retrofit work. The following items will be required with the application:
1. A copy of the current Registration Statement (Certificate)
2. A copy of the Tenant Habitability Plan (THP) and Declaration of Service.
3. Documentation that supports the costs, e.g. contracts, invoices, proof of payment, etc.
4. A rent roll that includes tenants’ move-in dates and current rents.
5. Final permits for work that required a permit.
6. A copy of the Certificate of Compliance for the Seismic Retrofit Work.