The City of Los Angeles will end a COVID-era tenant eviction moratorium, but will make exceptions for those financially impacted by the pandemic.
The unanimous vote from the Los Angeles City Council came Tuesday, as council president Nury Martinez said she had asked the city’s housing department in February to draw up a transition that will be effective January 31, 2023.
“For months now, the department held conversations with community stakeholders, landlords and tenants to make sure that we were all hearing from their experiences and making sure that was all being documented,” Martinez said during the city council meeting Tuesday. “Both tenants and the mom and pop landlords have felt the burden of the last two years. Angelenos have lost their jobs during the pandemic and some of them are still having a really hard time getting back on their feet.”
“Tenant protections” will be offered, however, if tenants can show they were financially impacted by the pandemic and unable to fulfill their renter obligations.
Tenants must “self-attest” to having been financially impacted by the pandemic by December 1 in order to qualify for a 12-month period where they may begin to repay their debts. By the end of those 12 months, on February 1, 2023, tenants must have paid in full, or risk triggering “no-fault” evictions after landlords provide a 30-day notice.
There will also be an ordinance that requires “specific reasoning” for evicting a tenant, such as violating a lease agreement, a measure typically only applicable to units covered by rent control.
The full details of the ordinance must now be drawn by the city attorney, including the terms of evicting a tenant due to non-payment of rent.
“When the pandemic began, the Los Angeles City Council enacted the nation’s strongest eviction protections, and today we are ensuring a careful, thoughtful transition as the pandemic recedes and this policy sunsets,” Council President Pro Tempore Mitch O’Farrell said Tuesday. “Taking that into consideration, today we also approved a new Council District 13 Rental Aid Program, which will provide much-needed financial assistance to tenants and true ‘mom and pop’ landlords in my district who are still struggling with housing payments due to COVID-19.”
Councilmember John Lee said that while he was not on board with all of the amendments in the measure, he was in favor of a “yes” vote in order to provide both landlords and tenants with clarity on the future of renting.
“Specifically, I am pleased that there is finally an end date to this moratorium which would give both tenants and landlords a clear roadmap for the future,” Lee said. “However, getting to this place today has been a challenge for many. I firmly believe that we, as a body, need to be mindful of the dire challenges that our small property owners in particular have faced over the last two-plus years and will continue to endure as we enter this next phase.”
Councilmember Nithya Raman suggested pushing the date of the moratorium to February 28, 2023, giving the housing department additional time to enact all of the new renting measures, while taking into account the coming holidays may reduce the opportunities to work on the new amendments.
“If we are serious about having new protections meaningfully in place, before the moratorium lifts, it feels to me like we need a little bit more time,” Raman said. “The will also allow the department an extra month to conduct the extensive outreach that we all know will be needed to let tenants and landlords know exactly what to expect going forward and to reach the most vulnerable and hardest to reach tenants.”
Ultimately, Raman’s motion for a change in the deadline failed, before the council took a 12-0 vote to let the moratorium expire.
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