Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By Vince Muselli
Bisnow 

Los Angeles Enacts "Emergency Moratorium" on No-Fault Evictions of Tenants

Fearing landlords would kick out tenants in advance of AB-1482, LA City Council acts

 

November 1, 2019

Tenants at a rent protest

Fearing that mass evictions could follow after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed rent cap and stronger tenant protections into law, the Los Angeles City Council has approved an emergency moratorium on no-fault evictions.

In front of a raucous pro-tenant crowd in City Hall, the city council Tuesday approved the moratorium that prevents a landlord or rental property owner, whose building was built prior to 2005, from kicking out tenants before the new AB-1482 rules take effect in January.

The moratorium is meant to be a stopgap measure to help the 138,000 households in the city that are currently not protected in Los Angeles' rent stabilization ordinance, according to the staff report. 

"Rapidly escalating real estate values provide an incentive to landlords to evict long-term, lower-income tenants, without cause, to raise rents and attract wealthier tenants, before AB-1482 becomes effective," according to the new ordinance.

"Tenants in non-RSO units have already reported experiencing a surge of no-fault eviction notices and threats of eviction. Therefore, it is imperative that the city implement temporary strategies to keep people housed."

City Councilman Gil Cedillo said while most landlords - "98% or 99%" - are "not devious," there are some that are looking to capitalize on the new bill.   

Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles Executive Director Dan Yukelson called the vote "a complete knee-jerk reaction."

"The idea behind the eviction moratorium is not a solution to the affordable housing problem," Yukelson said in a statement to a landlords group called Bisnow. "It only exacerbates it. The ordinance addresses a problem that doesn't exist and the proposed solution only causes further problems and does nothing to get at the main issue which is a housing shortage exists."

Yukelson added that the emergency ordinance will limit a property owners' ability to evict problem tenants on legitimate grounds. 

The vote comes two weeks after Newsom signed new legislation that caps how much a landlord and rental property owners could hike rent across the state and make it harder to evict a tenant.

Under AB-1482, landlords and owners of multifamily buildings whose properties were not built within the last 15 years, won't be allowed to increase rent by more than 5% plus inflation a year. 

Landlords will also have stricter, "just cause" guidelines to follow to evict a tenant. Just cause evictions include a tenant not paying rent, conducting criminal activity in the unit and/or using the rental property unlawfully, among others.

The statewide law comes into effect in January but many tenants rights groups told the Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday that many of their members' landlords are already sending out 60-day eviction notices. 

Coalition for Economic Survival Director of Organizing and Tenant/Healthy Homes Outreach Carlos Aguilar said that his organization has seen a surge of calls from members who have received an eviction notice.  

"Attorneys and owners are attempting to use the months leading up to [AB-1482's] implementation to undermine its effectiveness by raising rents as much as they can and evicting as many families as possible before they believe they are accountable for their actions," Aguilar told the city council.

A woman named Chanel Williams urged the council to pass the moratorium.

"We are in a situation where a law was passed that protects people in this no-fault eviction thing, and in order to keep people safe and prevent the homeless crisis ballooning even further, you guys as our city council are required to not allow landlords to give 60-day [eviction] notices," she said. 

Councilman Mitch O'Farrell, who spearheaded the emergency moratorium, said the city has a duty to protect renters leading up to the state's new rent bill.

"This council wants to do everything we possibly can to protect as many of our renters as possible from no-fault evictions," O'Farrell said.

 

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