the la city council chamber
LA City Council Chamber. photo by John Schreiber.

Los Angeles City Council members Mitch O’Farrell, Curren Price and Nury Martinez Friday proposed drafting an emergency ordinance to keep people from being evicted without cause until a state law goes into effect Jan. 1.

The proposal would apply to tenants living in rental units built prior to 2006.

Gov. Gavin Newsom last week signed the Tenant Protections Act of 2019, which is designed to prevent rent gouging and arbitrary evictions.

The legislation establishes protection for renters in non-rent stabilized housing. But O’Farrell’s office said the city’s Housing and Community Investment Department is reporting a spike in the number of calls and inquiries about sudden eviction notices, and they said property owners have been advised to quickly issue “no-fault” eviction notices to tenants who pay low rents in advance of the act’s 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,” O’Farrell said. “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.”

A no-fault eviction occurs when a tenant is evicted for reasons that are no fault of their own.

“Some of these actions are truly abhorrent and unconscionable,” Martinez said. “They cannot be tolerated and the city must act immediately to protect our renters, including my constituents in Panorama City and Van Nuys.”

According to the motion, an estimated 30,000 evictions take place in Los Angeles each year, and the threat of no-fault evictions are escalating.

“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,” Price said. “Just this week, my office heard from a number of tenants whose rent hiked more than 150% within the last year alone.”

Price said those evicted include people who live in subsidized housing and large families.

“We simply can’t allow massive rent increases and unjust evictions to happen anymore,” Price said.

The motion states that 60% of the city’s residents are renters and a majority of them are rent-burdened, paying over 30% of their income for housing.

About 76% of multi-family units in the city are covered by the Rent Stabilization Ordinance, which protects renters against high 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, according to Price.

Due to the nature of the motions, City Council President Herb Wesson agreed that a vote on the motion will be taken by the full council on Tuesday.

The state law is to be in effect until 2030, unless voters extend it.

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