Los Angeles City Council Ends COVID-19 Renter Protections
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the city of Los Angeles enacted emergency protections for tenants, restricting evictions and rent increases during the state of emergency. On October 4th, the city council voted unanimously to approve a package of recommendations from a council committee, including ending these tenant protections. The vote followed a public comment session featuring tenants advocating for continued protections as well as landlord citizens advocating for an end of the restrictions.
Following the vote, landlords will be able to evict tenants who are behind on their rent starting February 1st, 2023. Council members are facing the challenge of balancing the needs of renters and landlords through this transition. Nury Martinez, Council President, explains, “…this policy that was put into place two years ago was intended solely to keep people housed and keep them off the streets. Now it is time that we not only keep people off the streets, but we also protect people’s housing and preserve their financial well-being.”
There will be two main re-payment deadlines for tenants who have missed rent payments since March 2020. Payments missed between March 1st, 2020 and September 30th, 2021 will be due by August 1st, 2023. Payments missed between October 1st, 2021 and February 1st, 2023 will need to be re-payed by February 1st, 2024.
No-fault evictions for unauthorized pets will continue to be suspended until February 1st, 2024. Additionally, beginning in February 2024, rent increases can resume on all rent-controlled apartments, which accounts for three-quarters of all rental units in the city. The council voted to explore universal just-cause regulations requiring landlords to provide specific reasons for evicting tenants in all rental housing, not just rent-controlled units. It also supported relocation assistance for all no-fault evictions.
Council members Nithya Raman and Kevin de León proposed amendments offering additional tenant protections during the transition, including creating a Tenants’ Bill of Rights and data collection for all evictions. “As a society, we recognized the devastation that evictions can cause for people, and that the city should be there to support tenants through temporary periods of hardship,” Raman explained. “The new protections that are being implemented in the coming months will help us to build a better L.A. for all residents.”
A rally was held outside of City Hall ahead of the meeting on Tuesday featuring the Keep L.A. Housed Coalition and other advocates of renter protections. Advocates argue that the moratorium has prevented mass displacement of tens of thousands of residents during a public health crisis.
Faizah Malik, a senior staff attorney at Public Counsel, argues that ending the moratorium without permanent tenant protections in place would be “reckless and inhumane … we cannot go back to a pre-pandemic world of tens of thousands of evictions, increasing rent burden, rising homelessness, and a worsening housing crisis.”