OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - Nearly six weeks after 2 Investigates’ first report, the Oakland City Attorney’s office filed a civil lawsuit against the landlord who demolished his tenant’s apartment while the man was still living there.
Landlord Gene Gorelik, his wife, and their company Oakland Redevelopment Group LLC are listed as defendants in the suit, filed by City Attorney Barbara Parker on Friday. It accuses Gorelik of harassment, threats, and illegal eviction of his tenant, Jahahara Aman’Ra Alkebutan Ma’at.
Alkebutan Ma’at was still living at the Adams Point home when crews began taking apart the structure last month.
Gorelik had an unlawful detainer lawsuit filed against Alkebutan Ma’at at the time, but a judge had not approved the eviction. The tenant’s attorney says he was effectively illegally forced out by the demolition.
“They have no concern for human rights, decency, tenants’ rights, anything,” said Parker. “If you gave it as a hypothetical, people would think it’s too preposterous to be believable.”
After an eviction settlement hearing last month where the two sides could not reach a deal, Alkebutan Ma’at says his landlord began to harass him with late night visits, turning off his water, electricity, and heat, and demolishing the walls in his kitchen and above his bed.
Since the demolition, the property has been listed online for sale for $399,000. Gorelik was holding an open house on Monday when 2 Investigates’ cameras caught up with him.
He told KTVU that he believes the lawsuit is evidence that he is being unfairly targeted by the city.
“The tenant protection laws are extremely one-sided where a tenant can completely abuse a landlord, but the moment you look at them funny, you get sued by the city,” Gorelik said.
If the city wins its lawsuit, Gorelik may have to pay tens of thousands of dollars in damages, compensate Alkebutan Ma’at for relocation fees, take anger management classes, and stay away from the property, among other requirements.