Los Angeles Times

A $1,800 apartment became a $3,300 corporate rental. Is that bad for housing?

LOS ANGELES - Last week, an upstart company started providing furnished apartments for business travelers on Franklin Avenue in Hollywood. Its website describes a "tastefully renovated" apartment complex with "laid back West Coast DNA" and a feeling of "whimsical Italian modern maximalism."

Tony Diamond, the founder of the company behind the project, said the owner of the 30-unit, rent-controlled apartment building worked with him for a simple reason: A studio at the complex near the iconic corner of Hollywood and Highland previously was advertised at $1,800. Once it was gutted, furnished and given a boutique-hotel flair, a traveling nurse agreed to rent it for $3,300 a month.

"Word is spreading and so landlords are coming to us," Diamond said, standing in front of the complex's kidney-shaped pool. "They love the partnership."

But by reducing the stock of apartments marketed to tenants who want a home and turning them over to business travelers and others willing to pay top dollar for temporary housing of at least a month, companies have drawn fire from housing advocates.

"Quite frankly, it's those types of

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