L.A. County supervisors propose adopting permanent rental protections

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday proposed making several rent support programs permanent, as rent protections – many of which were introduced in the early days of the pandemic – will expire at the end of the year.

Some of the proposals would be the first of their kind in LA County, including the ability to save tenants from eviction if they default on about a month’s rent.

Although evictions or unlawful detention did not entirely stop during the pandemic, many of the rent protection measures reduced the number of evictions. County officials plan to do a massive public relations effort to let renters and landlords know these protections are being lifted.

The county will push to make permanent several programs that help low-income renters access legal services and rental assistance, and place restrictions on the types of questions landlords can ask renters.

County officials will return to supervisors over the next few months with an analysis of the proposed updates.

Other proposals include setting monetary thresholds for evictions, meaning a landlord could be blocked by the courts if a tenant owes less than a certain amount for their rent. The county will also consider helping large landlords if they promise not to evict a tenant for a certain period of time.

Rent increases could be capped at 3% for some units by 2024.

“We don’t want people who owe about a third of a month’s rent to be kicked out,” Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said during the board meeting.

Kuehl and supervisor Hilda Solis wrote many of the suggestions together.

Solis said the latest results from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority’s annual census showed a 4% increase in homelessness from 2020 to 2022.

“As a county, we understand that this number could have been greater had it not been for the many relief programs that we have implemented over the past two and a half years,” Solis said in a statement.

The motion passed 4 to 1, with supervisor Kathryn Barger voting against.

Supervisors Holly Mitchell and Kuehl also asked county employees to make the Stay Housed LA eviction assistance program a permanent service for low-income renters that would be maintained by the county’s Department of Consumer and Business Affairs. The program would aim to provide legal defenses to tenants through 2027.

“The challenges tenants face in eviction cases when seeking legal assistance indicate a major gap between the civil justice needs of low-income individuals and the resources available to meet those needs,” Mitchell and Kuehl said in their proposal, which was accepted unanimously.

Although the proposals were accepted, landlords argue they were not considered in the district decision.

In a letter to the Board of Directors, Valley Industry & Commerce Assn. said the proposals to cap screening questions for tenants were submitted with no input from landlords.

“These changes will further weigh on landlords who are already struggling with renter protections in place at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Victor Berrellez, chairman of the group.

Attorney Jonathan Jager of the Los Angeles nonprofit Legal Aid Foundation, which provides free eviction defense to low-income renters, says the county is building on the protective measures it put in place during the pandemic.

“The county scrapped broad-based safeguards early in the pandemic, which benefited people from losing their homes and allowed those people to seek shelter on the spot,” Jager told The Times. “They are taking big strides to identify what safeguards were most important in keeping people from evictions and homelessness. Now the [county] is shaded in the details of these safeguards.”

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-09-28/eviction-rental-protections-los-angeles-county L.A. County supervisors propose adopting permanent rental protections

Alley Einstein

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