CITY HALL - In a move to stave off a surge in rent increases and evictions by landlords in Los Angeles, Councilmembers Mitch O’Farrell and Curren Price co-introduced a motion Friday directing staff to draft an emergency ordinance to implement a temporary moratorium on “no-fault” evictions for rental units built prior to Jan. 1, 2006.
On Oct. 8, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 1482 into law. Also known as Tenant Protections Act of 2019, the law is designed to address a key cause of our state’s affordable housing crisis by preventing rent gouging and arbitrary evictions. The Tenant Protections Act of 2019 becomes effective Jan. 1, 2020, establishing the strongest statewide law in the country to protect renters in non-rent stabilized housing.
However, the City’s Housing + Community Investment Department is reporting a spike in the number of calls and inquiries from community advocates and tenants facing sudden eviction notices, while a prominent eviction attorney is on record as advising property owners at a trade show to quickly issue no-fault eviction notices to tenants who pay low rents in advance of the Act’s new protections.
“We are possibly witnessing the unintended consequences of a law that was designed to assist our low-income earners and families who struggle on the margins,” said O’Farrell, who represents the 13th Council District. “We are in the midst of an affordable housing crisis, and as lawmakers we must do everything in our power to protect those renters who may face rent gouging from landlords who are trying to take advantage of a window of opportunity.”
“While landlords may properly evict tenants for cause under the provisions of State law, landlords should not be able to evict tenants in good standing for no reason simply to avoid the limitations on rent-gouging afforded to renters under the new legislation,” said Price, who represents the Ninth Council District. “Just this week, my Office heard from a number of tenants whose rent hiked more than 150 percent within the last year alone. This includes: one senior citizen on Section 8 housing who has been living at a CD 9 facility for three decades; a City of LA employee who is raising her three young daughters in our community; and a grandmother living with her granddaughter and her great granddaughter who is exhausting her savings just to cover the increases in rent. We simply can’t allow massive rent increases and unjust evictions to happen anymore. The City needs to implement new strategies to keep people more people from falling into homelessness.”
There is an existing humanitarian crisis of homelessness and displacement of lower-income renters in the City of Los Angeles. According to the motion, 60 percent of the City’s residents rent their homes. A majority of renters (58 percent) are rent-burdened, paying over 30 percent of their income for rent, while about one-third are severely rent-burdened, paying over 50 percent of their income for rent.
Approximately 76 percent of multi-family units in the City are covered by the Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO), which protects renters against extraordinary rent increases and arbitrary evictions, but there are currently no renter protections for approximately 138,000 units in the City that will be covered by the new law.
Council President Pro Tempore Nury Martinez introduced a second motion calling for action in the City of Los Angeles.
“My colleagues, Mitch O’Farrell and Curren Price and I introduced motions today to put an immediate halt to unfair and, in some cases, unlawful attempts to evict tenants, particularly many of our low-income residents that AB 1482 is designed to protect,” said Councilwoman Nury Martinez. “Some of these actions are truly abhorrent and unconscionable. They cannot be tolerated and the City must act immediately to protect our renters, including my constituents in Panorama City and Van Nuys.”
Due to the nature of the motions, the Council President agreed to have these item bypass committee and return to the full City Council for a vote on Tuesday, Oct. 15. The City Attorney will then transmit an ordinance for Council to consider.
Curbed LA recently reported that AB 1482 goes into effect on January 1 and will limit rent increases in the state to 5 percent plus inflation.