WeHo Won’t Yield to a Woman Described as One of San Fran’s “Most Abusive and Lawless Landlords”

1237 N. Orange Grove Ave. (Google)

A landlord described by San Francisco’s city attorney as the “among the most abusive and lawless landlords I’ve encountered” failed Monday in her effort to get the West Hollywood City Council to let her off the hook for conduct involving a building she owns here.

Anne Kihagi, represented by attorney Alan King, appealed a decision by City Hall to suspend a permit she had received to install two electric wall heaters in an apartment at 1237 N. Orange Grove Ave. Kathryn Cole and Daniel Gomes, tenants in that rent-stabilized apartment, had been without heat since December 2015 except for a brief period when Kihagi visited to inspect the unit.

Anna Kihagi, aka Ann Swain

The building, constructed in the 1920s, is served by a gas heating system and the tenants pay for the heat provided. Heat from the electric wall heater would be more expensive and, the city claimed, violate a previous agreement by Kihagi to repair the non-functioning heater in the Cole/Gomes apartment. While the City Council rejected Kihagi’s appeal in a unanimous vote, Councilmember John D’Amico sided with Kihagi, noting that the electric heating system would provide the heat necessary.

Cole and Gomes complained about the loss of heat in December 2015, but it wasn’t until December 2017 that Kihagi hired a contractor to install the electric wall heater. A memo to the City Council from the city’s Administrative Services Department notes that her move to address the heating problem came as she faced a criminal trial for violation of other provisions of the city’s rent stabilization ordinance and risked revocation of her release from custody on her own recognizance.

In April, Kihagi had accepted a plea agreement with the city in which she agreed to “repair … the non-functioning heater(s)” in the Cole/Gomez apartment or replace them with “an equivalent and approving housing service) with required city permits within 15 days. She also had agreed to hire an on-site property manager who the city claims quit after Kihagi stopped communicating with him and failed to approve payment for property maintenance. Kihagi’s alleged violation of that plea agreement is being addressed by the city in another lawsuit.

Kihagi, who also goes by the names Anna Kihagi and Anna and Anne Swain, has been the subject of lawsuits by the city since 2008 over alleged violations of the city’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance and maintenance requirements. Last spring she was sentenced to five days in L.A. County jail after a judge ruled that she was in contempt of court for violating an injunction that prohibited her from re-renting certain apartments at an eight-unit building she owns at 1263 N. Crescent Heights Blvd. Kihagi successfully appealed that decision. Those apartments were the subject of an earlier lawsuit in which a tenant claimed he was improperly evicted and another tenant accused Kihagi of cutting off his electricity and water as retribution for his disclosing her action.

A limited liability company managed by Kihagi appear to own an apartment building at 1220 N. Formosa Ave. in West Hollywood. She is associated with other LLCs such as Xelan Prop LLC, Renka Prop LLC, Nozariz LLC, Zorial LLC, Jambax LLC, Aquat 009 LLC, Nivo1 LLC and DABee007 LLC, which owns the North Orange Grove building.

In its memo to the City Council, the Administrative Services Department says Kihagi “is an accomplished scofflaw as evidenced by her continuing conduct both in West Hollywood, as demonstrated by her recent criminal conviction in this jurisdiction, and the imposition of a permanent injunction and significant money judgment against her in San Francisco.”

“In addition to ignoring the tenants’ pleas for heat over an extended period, Appellant engaged in a series of retaliatory and unlawful conduct with respect to these and other tenants, including, but not limited to:

“–Failing to provide proper notice to tenants to enter the unit and reporting to the tenants that she put their cats into a closet during an entry.

“–Unilateral termination of the tenants’ right to a parking space following their filing of a maximum allowable rent (MAR) determination hearing.

“–The previously noted failure to restore the heat for months, which occurred following the tenants’ aforementioned filing for a MAR hearing.

“–Refusal to negotiate rent payments and filing a subsequently dismissed unlawful detainer action based on false allegations, costing the tenants thousands of dollars to defend.

“–Failure to re-register this and almost every other tenancy at Appellant’s properties as required by law for years despite being informed of the violation by city staff, and doing so only after being compelled to hire a property manager as part of Appellant’s plea agreement.

“This conduct represents only a portion of the allegations asserted by the People in its prosecution of Appellant, which related to conduct against numerous tenants in three of the Appellant’s West Hollywood properties over a course of several years. And, as stated above, staff was cognizant of other malicious and harassing conduct engaged in by the Appellant against her tenants at properties in San Francisco.

A story in SFGate.com says that Kihagi and members of her family have invested $24 million in real estate in San Francisco since 2013. A lawsuit filed against Kihagi by the City of San Francisco claims that her business model “consisted of buying buildings with longtime, rent-controlled tenants paying below-market rents and then using a wide range of methods, both legal and illegal, to get rid of them … Typically she offers to buy out tenants, and if that doesn’t work, the city’s lawsuit alleged, she threatens an ‘owner move-in’ or a ‘relative move-in’ eviction, both of which are allowed under state rent-control laws. If that doesn’t work, she has resorted to threats and harassment, the city’s suit contended.”

San Franciso City Attorney Dennis Herrera has accused Kihagi of “breathtaking cruelty” for targeting elderly, disabled renters.

Kihagi also has threatened WEHOville over stories published about her. A September letter from Julie Nong, who identifies herself as a lawyer in Burbank, states that “Ms. Kihagi is a respected professional in the community and has spent her life building a positive reputation. Nevertheless, we’re informed that you have maliciously been spreading inaccurate and unfounded information that is damaging to her personal and professional character.” WEHOville has invited Nong to inform it of any errors in its coverage so that they can be corrected.

With the City Council’s decision, Kihagi now has 15 days to fix the heating system in the North Orange Grove building.

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4 years ago

This person is definitely one of the most abusive and lawless landlords in the State of California. She had her say in court (as everyone does) and lost – so she must pay. It appears her banks are foreclosing on all her properties and the City of San Francisco is auctioning off her properties. Kudos to WEHOville for your effective investigative journalism – its important to expose these criminals.


4 years ago

“WeHo Won’t Yield to a Woman Described as One of San Fran’s “Most Abusive and Lawless Landlords” I find it interesting that the City won’t yield to a “woman” landlord, but has done so repeatedly to my mega-slumlord landlord, which is a huge LLC and president/owner of 40 plus “companies” thru out West Hollywood and LA. Oh, and he is male. His abuse of his tenants started immediately upon purchase of the property in 2006 when the GAS Co. red-tagged the whole building and we had no heat for 6 weeks thru out the holidays. Personally this slumlord has tried… Read more »

jimmy palmieri
4 years ago

Miserable creature.

4 years ago

Wow, this woman seems like an awful landlord only interested in lining her own pockets, no matter how much discomfort and pain she causes other people. I’m so grateful I’ve never had to deal with a landlord like her and hopefully I never will.

James Francis
James Francis
4 years ago

The city was aware of this landlord and still didn’t try to prosecute or penalize her earlier? Is it all because an attorney counsel represented and even threatened this article as slander! Apparently she is unethical brazen hostile and even tried to win through intimidation of property tenants, city staff and their findings to sue, abc even come after a local news company. Wehoville now knows what intimidation tactics she might have used with her own legal team that San Francisco attorney called her the worse landlord! Yet the city continued to tolerate and allow behavior which in my opinion… Read more »

Henry 'Hank' Scott
4 years ago
Reply to  James Francis

Please note that the story says the City of West Hollywood has been engaged in legal action against this landlord since 2008.

cody warlock
cody warlock
4 years ago

Charming lady. I cant help but wonder what makes people so greedy and conniving to the point of running roughshod over whoever they have to to get ahead, no matter how wealthy they already are. No wonder the world is going to pieces.

carleton croninc
4 years ago
Reply to  cody warlock

An apt description of the principal resident at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Washington, DC

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