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The Real Deal Los Angeles

Santa Monica files criminal charges against Neil Shekhter’s son for tenant harassment

City investigation revealed flood of rent-controlled units coming on the market
By Natalie Hoberman | January 14, 2019 04:11PM

Adam Shekhter (Credit: LinkedIn and iStock)

More controversy is swirling around the Shekhter family.

A Santa Monica city attorney alleges that Adam Shekhter — Neil Shekhter’s son — and two other individuals used “unlawful tactics” to pressure tenants to vacate rent-controlled apartments.

The complaint charges Shekhter, along with Saul Reuben Robin and Edward Valentin, with tenant harassment, maintaining a public nuisance and violating zoning laws, according to a statement from the city on Jan. 9.

Three LLCs — My Suite, 1238 10th Street and 1433 Euclid — were also named as defendants in the case. Valentin, a senior development manager at WS Communities, is linked to 1238 10th Street and 1433 Euclid LLCs. Adam Shekhter, a principal at WS, controls My Suite LLC, business registration records show.

Santa Monica’s Code Enforcement division opened an investigation into two adjacent rent-controlled properties managed by My Suite in June 2018, according to the Santa Monica Daily Press. The department had noticed a flood of new units at the buildings come on the market as rentals, a rare occurrence which could suggest there had been some persuasion by the landlord.

Shekhter’s father, multifamily developer Neil Shekhter, has been in the headlines since 2014, when he became embroiled in a legal dispute with AEW Capital Management, his former joint venture partner. In November, a Los Angeles Superior Court Judge ruled in favor of AEW, stating that the firm was acting accordingly when it sold the embattled nine-property portfolio to SPI Holdings.

In the Santa Monica case, a city investigation found that Adam Shekhter and the other defendants failed to comply with Santa Monica’s tenant relocation order, and instead used illegal tactics such as buyouts and eviction notices to force rent-controlled tenants out, according to the release. It does not specify where the illegal buyouts took place.

Since 2016, more than a dozen tenants have taken buyout offers to leave the 20-unit complex on 10th Street, the Santa Monica Daily Press reported. The tenants who stayed at the property said it was being operated as corporate housing rather than affordable housing.

The city’s investigation also revealed that the defendants were operating group residential housing rental operations without proper permits, according to the statement.

Eric Rose, a spokesperson for the defendants, called the allegations “unfounded.” In an emailed statement, he said the defendants “are prepared to vigorously defend against the meritless legal action.” He added: “We are confident that if this case is in fact litigated, and all the facts are established, all parties will be fully vindicated.”

Deputy city attorney Eda Suh charged the individuals and LLCs on Dec. 18. They were ordered to appear in a Los Angeles Superior Court on Feb. 13.

The case also links to Shekhter’s father. Property records indicate Neil Shekhter, the owner of NMS Properties, bought the Santa Monica properties in 2015, acting behind 1238 10th Street LLC. The LLC is now linked to WNMS Communities, a new company that was founded in 2017 amid the legal drama surrounding the older Shekhter. WNMS manages all of the pending NMS development projects.