L.A. backs eviction protections for tenants behind on rent

The Los Angeles City Council made some minor adjustments to elements of its renter protection package on Friday after council members met privately with city attorneys for more than two hours.

The extended tenant protection package was approved unanimously last week. But its various pillars were at different stages of the legislative process, with some elements – such as new “just cause” eviction protections and a rent repayment schedule – poised to be signed into law after last week’s vote . Two other provisions still required regulations to be drafted and passed this week.

A proposal setting a minimum threshold for evictions for tenants who default on rent was tentatively approved by council on Friday, while a separate item that would require landlords to pay moving fees in some situations involving large rent increases, submitted by next week.

Councilor Nithya Raman, chair of the council’s housing committee and a supporter of the legislative package, said she was confident the eviction threshold regulation would pass a second reading and optimistic that the resettlement assistance provision would also be approved next week.

“I am grateful that my colleagues saw this as a moment for bold action,” Raman said.

The eviction threshold proposal passed by a vote of 9-2, with councilors Traci Park and John Lee voting no. Under the proposal, a tenant would have to owe an amount in excess of the market monthly rent before they could be evicted.

Because the vote was not unanimous, this regulation must be heard again next week for a second vote before it can come into effect.

The ordinance was amended to include a severability clause, which states that if a provision of the law is struck down in court, the rest will stand. It was also amended to direct the city’s housing department to report on a range of items, including how the city’s new tenant protections could affect housing production.

A separate provision that would require landlords to pay relocation fees if the rent is increased by more than 10% or 5% plus inflation was not voted on because an amendment approved at the meeting will take more time to draft. It is expected to come back before the council on Tuesday.

The change will clarify the crowding out provision to ensure it is only triggered by changes in a unit’s contracted monthly rent and not by promotional rents or discounts.

Since the city’s rental price stabilization ordinance, this proposal would only apply to a relatively small part of the city’s rental portfolio nationwide regulations on rent caps already prohibit such rent increases for most units. About 84,000 units built since 2008 would fall under the proposed law, according to the city’s housing department.

Two more parts of the package were signed into law by Mayor Karen Bass this week and went into effect on Friday.

“Just cause” eviction protection prohibits landlords from evicting tenants in rental properties, including single-family homes, except for unpaid rent, documented rent violations, owner move-ins, or other specific reasons.

Some tenants, including those in rent-stabilized units, already had this protection, but universal adoption dramatically increased the number of tenants covered.

Another provision, which went into effect Friday, blocks evictions through February 2024 for renters who have unauthorized pets or who have added occupants not listed on leases. A new timeline for repayment of rent owed from the COVID-19 emergency period has also been drawn up.

The council was under intense pressure to approve significant protections for new tenants by the end of the month, when the city’s emergency order expires.

The county also had its own rules that were set to expire at the end of the month. These rules prohibit landlords from evicting low-income tenants who say they have been financially harmed by COVID-19 and are unable to pay rent.

This deadline pressure was eased slightly this week when the district managers voted unexpectedly on Tuesday to extend their COVID-19 evacuation rules until the end of March.

Tenants and tenant representatives spoke out in favor of the regulations at Friday’s meeting, while some small landlords and landlord groups spoke out against it.

Prior to her “no” vote on the eviction threshold provision, Park said that while she agreed that no tenant should be evicted because they were “a few dollars short of rent” or experiencing “some kind of life emergency,” she thought it was an unbalanced policy that does not adequately address the needs of small landlords.

Park also had broader concerns, saying the proposal “raises many unanswered questions ranging from the legality of these regulations to their implementation and their overall affordability implications.”

The California Apartments Assn. has already threatened litigation over the two remaining proposals.

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2023-01-27/l-a-city-council-backs-minimum-threshold-for-evicting-tenants-behind-on-rent L.A. backs eviction protections for tenants behind on rent

Alley Einstein

Alley Einstein is a USTimesPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Alley Einstein joined USTimesPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing Alley@ustimespost.com.

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