Los Angeles City Council committee recommends end date for city’s COVID eviction moratorium

LOS ANGELES (CNS) — A council committee on Wednesday recommended that Los Angeles’ eviction protections end Jan. 31 due to the COVID-19 harshness, and set a possible end date for the moratorium set early in the pandemic, to be presented to the full council.

The Council’s Ad Hoc Committee on COVID-19 Recovery and Neighborhood Investments voted 4-0 in favor of sunset shelters for tenants unable to pay rent due to the financial impact of COVID-19. The committee’s recommendation follows discussion by the council’s housing committee earlier this month, in which it approved an amendment to the Los Angeles Housing Department’s report that would expand eviction protections beyond LAHD’s Dec. 31 recommendation.

“We consider our moratorium to be one of the strongest renter protections in the country, and we’ve maintained those protections longer than almost any other municipality in the state,” Council President Nury Martinez said. “We need to create long-term protection for our tenants while preserving the economic well-being of our small, large-scale landlords.”

The committee approved the housing department’s recommendations with amendments by Martinez, who also chairs the committee. The recommendations included relocation assistance for all evictions deemed to be no-fault evictions and no-fault eviction protections for unauthorized pets for an additional year.

The committee Wednesday included Martinez, Councilmen Gil Cedillo, Mitch O’Farrell and Marqueece Harris-Dawson. Councilman Curren Price was absent.

If the council agrees, tenants who have missed payments since March 2020 would have to face two repayment deadlines. Under state law, they would have until August 1, 2023 to pay back the lost rent between March 1, 2020 and September 30, 2021. Under the city’s moratorium, tenants would have until February 1, 2024 to repay the accumulated rent from 10/1/2021 to 2/1/2023.

Landlords could resume rent increases for rent-controlled housing, which accounts for three-quarters of Los Angeles housing, beginning in February 2024.

As in previous sessions discussing the moratorium on evictions, the committee heard a mix of tenants calling for protection to be extended and large landowners asking for the moratorium to be lifted.

“There’s enough here on both sides that people can be unhappy with,” Cedillo said. “That’s probably the best offer we could put together.”

Cedillo added the challenge facing the council is: “How do we get out of this pandemic?”

“It’s ignorant. It’s going to be difficult. It’s not going to be precise or accurate,” Cedillo said. “But we need to be as nuanced as possible, as thoughtful as possible. It’s broad brushed but we have to pay attention to the corners and details because there is no one size fits all.”

Earlier Wednesday, O’Farrell proposed a $3 million rental assistance program for renters and landlords in the 13th Precinct. O’Farrell’s proposal would provide up to $5,000 per household for renters in his district who earn 80% or less of the area’s median income, or AMI, pending council approval.

“There is a lot of uncertainty right now regarding eviction protection in Los Angeles,” O’Farrell said. “This will help people stay in their homes as we work through this uncertainty as the moratorium on evictions comes to an end.”

The state’s COVID-19 rent relief program closed its applications on March 31.

Both renters and landlords in the 13th Ward could apply for O’Farrell’s proposed program, which would be run through the city’s housing department. Landlords would receive the subsequent rent. O’Farrell said the goal is to help people stay housed, but also to help troubled landlords.

“We want the majority of rental properties in Los Angeles to remain owned by smaller, major landlords, not larger LLCs and corporations,” O’Farrell said. “We know this is their small business and they have tenants. We want to support this ecosystem of the rental housing market.”

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https://abc7.com/eviction-moratorium-los-angeles-city/12279469/ Los Angeles City Council committee recommends end date for city’s COVID eviction moratorium

Laura Coffey

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