Landlords Funding Prop. 98 Have History of Mistreating Tenants

by Larry Gross and Ted Gullicksen on March 19, 2008

Wealthy apartment and mobile home park owners spent millions to get Proposition 98 on the June 2008 ballot. Prop 98 is a deceptive scheme that would wipe out rent control and eliminate important renter protections like laws requiring the fair return of deposits. Prop 98 is the worst kind of special interest proposition there is: It benefits a few wealthy landlords at the expense of millions of Californians. Landlord Watch is a periodic publication intended to expose the landlords behind Prop 98 and their attack on renters.


Total Contributions to Prop 98: $200,000.00*
California Secretary of State filings as of 2/22/08: Individual contributions from Donna Kaplan = $33,333.34; Jeffrey Kaplan = $66,666.66; Thomas Tatum = $75,000; Claudia Tatum = $25,000.00

Background: Tatum-Kaplan owns or operates more than 20 mobile home parks throughout California. A news search of Tatum and Kaplan uncovers dozens of news articles painting a troubling picture of landlords with a history of mistreating tenants and neglecting their properties. The company has been sued, fined or cited numerous times for …

Operating Slum-Like Conditions:

In Mira Loma, Kaplan and Tatum were accused of operating a ‘slumlike’ mobile home park:

More than 100 residents at Swan Lake have accused the partners in court of allowing their property to deteriorate. Park residents contend… that owners and managers neglected the Swan Lake electrical system, which caused blackouts.

They also said the park had an inadequate septic system that allowed raw sewage to back up into homes … Other complaints about maintenance have been made in lawsuits filed by tenants in several Kaplan-Tatum parks, including Tokay Manor in Fontana. Conditions there prompted city officials to declare the park a public nuisance …

Source: Riverside Press Enterprise, “Rent Control Foe Pushing Prop. 199”, February 18, 1996

Rent Gouging:

In 2000, a Santa Clara County Judge ordered Kaplan and Tatum to pay a $1.2 million judgment for “improperly inflated space rents well in excess of the city’s rent control regulations”:


After a five-year delay, prosecutors went to trial … accusing the owners of two mobile-home parks of rent gouging and running an intricate sham to skirt San Jose’s rent control ordinance. The companies … are managed by Thomas Tatum and Jeffrey Kaplan.

Santa Clara prosecutors claim that … park operators manipulated 90 prospective tenants.

Source: San Jose Mercury News, Prosecutors Accuse Mobile-Home Park Owners of Rent-Gouging, January 8, 2000

EDITOR’S NOTE: Larry Gross runs the Coalition for Economic Survival in Los Angeles. Ted Gullicksen runs the San Francisco Tenants Union.

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