Tarek El Moussa made a name for himself for great work on HGTV’s Flip or Flop— but his latest condo project in Los Angeles is bringing more heat than applause.
El Moussa made headlines in August 2023 when news broke that he was allegedly evicting tenants from L.A.’s North Hollywood neighborhood for a $50 million development called NoHo 138. To make matters worse, El Moussa’s wife, Heather Rae El Moussa, is tied to the project.
Tarek’s investment company, TEM Capital, and Heather’s company, HEM Capital, are among the many partners working on the building. The couple, who tied the knot in October 2021, haven’t confirmed whether the construction will be featured on their joint HGTV series, Flipping El Moussas — but Tarek has denied any nefarious actions on their part during the building process.
“Even though I am being dragged for false accusations and misconceptions, my intentions are to do good, and I hope that we can focus on the positive and the facts,” he wrote in an August 2023 Instagram statement.
Scroll down to learn about the controversial build:
What Is the Project?
Tarek’s team announced in April 2023 that it would be developing a luxury condo complex in North Hollywood that investors could buy into. The Flipping 101 star confirmed the project the following month via Instagram.
“As someone who grew up in California, this is something that is really big to me!! @temcapital is so excited to tell you about my biggest flip yet — our new development project in North Hollywood!” Tarek captioned the clip. “This is 138 units and is a brand-new construction!!” He proceeded to speak to his followers directly, explaining that it’s an “incredible location” that he got “off market.”
The space will feature amenities such as a gym, rooftop deck, community pool and spacious balconies for each unit.
When Will Construction Begin?
The luxury complex is expected to break ground in 2024, according to the project’s website. Construction is expected to be complete in 2026.
How Many Units Will Be in the New Complex?
The building is slated to include 14 low-income units as part of the overall 138-unit location.
Why Is the Project Getting Backlash?
While Tarek was teasing the new venture in May 2023, news broke that the previous property owner, Arthur Aslanian, had used unsafe tactics to make tenants vacate the land. The landlord, who has since sold the land to Tarek, was convicted in federal court of hiring someone to set fire to vacant units on the site, according to The Los Angeles Times. The arson tactic was part of a “years-long illegal harassment campaign to force them to leave,” several tenants told the newspaper in an article published in August 2023.
The five remaining tenants claimed in the interview that Tarek and Heather, and their respective real estate investment firms, are allegedly evicting them from their rent-controlled units.
What Has Tarek Said About the Controversy?
Tarek released a statement in August 2023 and denied that he or Heather were unlawfully evicting any residents from their homes. “Notices to the tenants were served by the current owner, not by me or the partners of NoHo 138. I am not evicting anyone. We did not issue the Ellis Act relocation documents,” he alleged.
Tarek cited the city of Los Angeles’ rules and regulations, claiming that everyone involved on the build have been following the guidelines. “The partners of NoHo 138 have attempted to get in touch with the remaining tenants to have an amicable discussion regarding final move out agreements. The partners of Noho 138 have also reached out to the attorney representing the Hartsook tenants to request assistance in facilitating a meeting between both parties,” he continued. “Our intentions are to work with the tenants to offer a great opportunity for them while helping to improve the neighborhood.”
The Tarek’s Flip Side star alleged that once his team formally acquired NoHo 138, they have had a goal to “construct a safe and pristine new apartment complex.” He noted that the project “will provide hundreds of new jobs through the construction process, provide a boost to city tax revenue which will be allocated for homeless programs and other socially impactful programs as promoted by the current city administration, create 131 new parking spaces to help reduce the impact of street parking, provide tenants an opportunity to come back and live in a newly constructed apartment, as well as create a beautiful new community to attract a diverse base of residents.”
Tarek concluded: “The entire process has been and will continue to be handled according to the law, and the existing tenants will continue to be treated respectfully and lawfully. I look forward to being a great addition and neighbor to the community.”
How Have Tenants Reacted to Tarek’s Statement?
Clare Letmon, an organizer and tenant of the Hartsook Street bungalows, told People in an August 2023 statement that Tarek “basically called us liars” when he claimed he was being “dragged for false accusations and misconceptions” in regard to the new complex. Letmon claimed that despite multiple attempts to speak with the El Moussas directly, Tarek hasn’t responded to the tenants since July 14, 2023.
“When you post videos standing in front of the arson damage, talking about the biggest flip of your life and this opportunity to make so much money, you’re exploiting the crimes that the landlord committed against the people who used to live here and you’re doing it with a smile on your face,” Letmon explained. “It would be incredibly heartbreaking to watch this place get bulldozed — and the trees, and the garden, and just the history that’s here.”
Earlier in the month, several tenants spoke with the L.A. Times about the possible eviction. “It’s been my home for 40 years,” Cathy Livas, who pays $824 a month to live in one of the units, told the outlet. “Why would I want to live anywhere else? Do you know the price of rents?”
Is Anything Tarek Doing Illegal?
Landlords have a right to legally “go out of business” and evict tenants whenever they see fit under the California Ellis Act, according to the Los Angeles House Department.
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Tarek’s team insisted on the project website that “the entire process has been and will continue to be handled justly through the Los Angeles Housing Department (LAHD) and a legal relocation advisor in order to make 100 percent sure the relocation is performed according to the law.” The building group also noted that “monetary compensation” will be offered to tenants who wish to vacate their homes early.