City Council bands ‘no-fault’ evictions in LA
It’s about to get more difficult for landlords to boot tenants in the city of Los Angeles.
The Los Angeles City Council unanimously passed an emergency moratorium today that will temporarily bar property owners from evicting tenants, unless they have “cause”—for example, they failed to pay rent or violated the terms of a lease.
The ban on “no-fault” evictions is a response to reports from renters, tenant lawyers, and housing advocates that tenants who pay low rents are being evicted to make room for new, higher-paying tenants before California’s rent control law goes into effect in January.
The city’s new ordinance—which will apply to most rental properties built prior to January 2005—is designed to help long term tenants, said Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, who he says are being kicked out by the “greediest” of landlords.
“What’s happening out there is shameful,” said Councilmember Bob Blumenfield.
The mayor signed the measure into law this afternoon, and chief assistant city attorney David Michaelson said the moratorium could go into effect as soon as tomorrow.
In a statement, Dan Yukelson, executive director of the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles says the moratorium is a “knee-jerk reaction” to recent media coverage of evictions.
He said it will limit property owners’ abilities to remove problem tenants and damage their livelihoods and “their ability to ensure the comfort, security, and safety of other residents living at their properties.”
Under the moratorium, landlords will still be able to evict tenants who do not pay their rent. That means property owners may still choose to jack up rents to levels that tenants are not able to afford.
“That’s a lawful way you can evict somebody,” Blumenfield said.
Councilmember Nury Martinez is working with the city attorney’s office to draft a separate temporary moratorium on rent hikes and on evictions caused by failure to pay rent. She said that could be ready for a council vote by as soon as the end of this week.
Olga Ford, an ACCE member who lives with granddaughter and great-granddaughter, told the council that her rent recently increased from $1,337 to $2,350.
“It’s too much. We’re begging you all to do something,” she said.
The no-fault eviction moratorium is expected to cover about 138,000 renter households who do not live in units already subject to the city’s rent control ordinance, which protects renters from steep rent increases and arbitrary evictions.
What is “cause”?
Landlords must have “cause” when evicting tenants under the temporary ordinance approved by the Los Angeles City Council. That includes:
- Defaulting on rent
- Violating the terms of a lease
- Committing a crime on the property
- Causing a “nuisance”
- Refusing to allow the landlord to enter
It would apply to eviction notices that were issued before the moratorium is in effect, as long as the eviction notice has not expired, and the tenant is still living in the unit.
“If my landlord gave me a 60-day notice to evict 40 days ago and in 20 days, I’d need to vacate… it would stop this eviction in its tracks,” said Michaelson.
Carlos Aguilar, director of organizing for the Coalition for Economic Survival, said that in the wake of Assembly Bill 1482 passing, his organization has seen a “surge” in the number of calls and clinic visits from renters who have been handed no-fault, 60-day eviction notices.
“Their lives have been upended,” he said.