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Stuck: KPCC’s Investigation Into A Southern California Rental Empire




A courtyard at River Glen Apartments in San Bernardino, California, the peaks of the San Bernardino mountains loom in the distance.
A courtyard at River Glen Apartments in San Bernardino, California, the peaks of the San Bernardino mountains loom in the distance.
Chava Sanchez/ LAist

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Virtually unknown to his tenants or the public, Mike Nijjar is one of the biggest landlords in the state. Companies he is connected to make up a vast rental empire centered in some of the poorest parts of Southern California.

Nijjar himself lives in a Los Angeles suburb that Forbes Magazine once called "America's Most Expensive ZIP Code." His 12,000-square-foot hillside mansion, dubbed "Villa Bellefontaine," sits in a gated community and boasts six bedrooms, nine bathrooms, a waterfall, a tennis court, a reflecting pool, a screening room and a vineyard.

Many of Nijjar's tenants live in starkly different conditions, fighting off roaches, rats, bedbugs, bees, maggots and mold, all while struggling to get even minor issues fixed. At many of these rentals, low-income residents feel stuck in unsanitary, dangerous housing. 

Read the full investigative piece here

Have you ever faced a situation where you felt stuck in a rental with a bad landlord and no recourse? Call us at 866-893-5722.

Guests:

Aaron Mendelson, investigative reporter at KPCC, where his latest investigative piece is “Deceit, Disrepair and Death Inside a Southern California Rental Empire”; he tweets @a_mendelson

Javier Beltran, managing attorney for the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, a legal service provider in L.A. County that helps address legal issues for people who are low income or homeless