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Crescenta Valley Water District OKs rental to employee

August 28, 2013|By Brittany Levine, brittany.levine@latimes.com | By Brittany Levine, brittany.levine@latimes.com

The Crescenta Valley Water District may become the landlord for one of its employees as the district works to fill a vacant residential property it owns.

After the previous renter of the small two-bedroom house moved out last month, an employee inquired about living in the home, located in 2800 block of Sycamore Avenue in La Crescenta.

The district has never had an employee as a tenant in its two residential properties before, but last week the board of directors decided in a 4-1 vote to allow the district to accept rental applications from employees for the Sycamore house.

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As of the application deadline last Friday, the district received paperwork from three potential renters for the 846-square-foot home. The district advertised the property by placing signs on the front lawn and at the corner of the closest major intersection for 10 days, which is how it has publicized properties in the past.

District spokeswoman Christy Scott said all three applicants will be judged equally based on credit scores, references and financial stability.

James Bodnar, president of the board of directors, said he voted to allow employees to rent district properties because he didn't "want to start developing a policy where there isn't a problem yet."

When asked if he considered how landlord-tenant issues, such as maintaining the property and paying the rent on time, could impact the employer-employee relationship, Bodnar, who also rents his own properties, looked on the bright side.

The landlord-tenant relationship is "always a difficult situation; add the employee relationship to it, and it could be better," he said, adding that it may lead the tenant to be on best behavior.

The sole dissenter on the board, Judy Tejeda, took a different point of view, noting that she could foresee complications when the district becomes both a landlord and employer, especially because the staff of 35 employees is so small.

She also said she worried that if multiple employees apply to rent the same property in the future, there may be some hurt feelings that could impact the workforce.

“It's a tough issue,” Tejeda said, adding though that she respected her colleagues' point of view that both employees and outsiders should have an even playing field.

Scott said the property would be rented out at $1,550 a month, a $50 increase from what was paid by the previous tenant, who lived there for about a year. The new tenant would sign an annual lease, which would convert to a month-to-month agreement after a year, she said.

The district owns two properties near well sites that officials envision modifying in the future to do planned projects. It's easier to just go ahead and purchase properties when they come on the market, Bodnar said.

The other property, a one-bedroom home measuring 558 square feet in the 3900 block of Pennsylvania Avenue, is currently leased.

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Follow Brittany Levine on Google+ and on Twitter: @brittanylevine.

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