Revolutionizing eviction defense in California
Founded in 2005, BASTA is now the largest, most comprehensive tenant rights organization in Southern California. We have more than 15 attorneys and 10 staff across four full-service offices, serving virtually every need of the tenant community (legal or otherwise).
BASTA pioneered the strategy of bringing all eviction defense cases to jury trial, which is a right under California’s constitution. Rather than having cases decided by a single judge, cases are decided by members of the community — including many tenants. The strategy works. BASTA has won more jury trials in eviction cases than all of the other organizations in Southern California combined. At BASTA, we pride ourselves in treating every client’s case with the same zealous advocacy that a “big” firm would provide to a paying corporate client. Our unique approach and our universal demand for jury trials has revolutionized the entire eviction legal process.
Today, every nonprofit organization in California that represents tenants in eviction defense cases requests a jury trial. After a tumultuous period of generally negating jury trials and several BASTA appeals, trial courts handling eviction cases in Los Angeles County and beyond now recognize tenants’ constitutional right to a jury trial — as well as the right of indigent clients to a waiver from depositing jury fees.
Expanding the empire of justice beyond eviction defense
Because BASTA recognized the desperate lack of resources for tenant services, we embarked on a path of expansion to help tenants comprehensively. Over the years, BASTA grew and evolved into so much more than a nonprofit that defends evictions. Culminating in a strategic re-organization in 2017, BASTA transformed itself into an all-inclusive tenant rights organization that handles a broad variety of tenant-related litigation. BASTA provides direct legal representation for:
- Eviction defense
- Building-wide breaches of habitability (known as “mass actions”)
- Impact litigation and class actions challenging laws and government programs
- Illegal rent increases
- Unauthorized dwelling structures (for example, converted garages or warehouses converted to apartments/lofts)
- Landlord retaliation
- Fraudulent relocations and Ellis Act displacement
- Constructive eviction and illegal lock-outs
- Prosecuting violations of rent control ordinances in civil court
Ending Los Angeles’ “national disgrace”: homelessness
The Los Angeles Times called the city’s homelessness problem “a national disgrace.” It is. There are roughly 57,000 people without a permanent place to live in the city. The problem goes far beyond Skid Row, where only a tenth of the city’s homeless population lives. It stretches across the neighborhoods, streets and parks of L.A. County, where 10 million people live. After people and families become homeless, they deal with numerous daily challenges just to survive. It should never come to that. That’s why we fight tooth and nail to keep people in their homes, preventing homelessness by making sure it doesn’t happen in the first place.
Legal work at every level, from appeals to collections
In addition, BASTA’s comprehensive purview expands to all levels of the litigation process. BASTA’s direct representation work and legal prowess does not merely stop at the trial level. BASTA supports an in-house collections department under its “Tenant Power Collections” project to relentlessly pursue monies awarded in litigation against landlords and in favor of tenants and other housing rights groups.
From all the other tenant rights organizations, BASTA boasts one of the most prolific and successful appellate departments in the state. We are defending or prosecuting 20+ appeals at any given time, and BASTA attorneys are consistently changing the law for tenants in California. As of January 1, 2018, BASTA’s attorneys claimed an impressive nine published appellate decisions, including:
So much more than lawyers
In addition to direct legal representation, we support tenant rights across the entire spectrum of community needs including:
- General housing advice
- Dealing with administrative agencies such as local housing departments (e.g. HCID), Department of Building and Safety, and Department of Environmental Services (e.g., health department)
- Coordinating tenants for collective action at properties
- Working with government agencies and court-appointed receivers to repair dilapidated properties and eliminate substandard housing
- Supporting tenants with Los Angeles’ Rent Escrow Account Program (REAP)
- Coordinating with constituent offices of elected representatives regarding individual tenant issues or problems
- Attending and organizing protests and vigils at strategic locations whether city council meetings or the homes of landlords
- Community outreach and education at schools, fairs and other events
In 2018, BASTA became a proud partner with Los Angeles Public Library to provide tenant rights advice and assistance in conjunction with the New Americans Initiative, which is sponsored by the Office of Mayor Eric Garcetti.
A helping hand
At BASTA, we understand how difficult it can be to deal with threats to your home, poor housing conditions and aggressive or unfair landlords. We will fight for you. When you come to our offices, you will be treated with respect and compassion in an environment that welcomes all. Because we accept no federal money, we are able to fight for everyone regardless of legal status.
Rental properties are not just investments for property owners — they are our homes. When you come to us for help, you’ll receive a warm welcome and the support you need to fight successfully. You don’t have to go it alone.