The Los Angeles City Council Friday approved a proposal to increase the amount given to tenants evicted under Ellis Act proceedings.
The Ellis Act, a state law passed in 1985, allows landlords to evict tenants and has been used to “flip” affordable apartments into condominiums and other projects, according to City Councilman David Ryu, who introduced the motion with Councilman Mike Bonin.
Los Angeles can’t stop Ellis Act-evictions without state action, but the councilmen said the city can change some of the requirements landlords must meet in order to “Ellis-out” a tenant.
“The Ellis Act has become an engine of displacement,” Ryu said. “It leads to the eviction of thousands across our city and pushes people into homelessness. We cannot wait for the state to wake up to this failed law. We must stop the bleeding now. The reforms laid out in this motion would do more to protect affordable housing and give renters more power when staring down an Ellis eviction.”
Landlords who use the Ellis Act are required to pay tenants they evict for relocation assistance, but the amount varies depending on a tenant’s length of residency in a particular unit.
Under the proposal, evicted tenants would also have the right of first refusal on new units built where their previous units were demolished, and the units would be made available to them below market rate.
The city will look to increase the affordable housing requirement that mandates new housing complexes must offer 20% of the units at affordable-housing rates, and it would establish oversight on projects that seek density bonuses.
That means if a developer wants to qualify for an affordable housing incentive, they would need to build affordable units on top of the amount already required by law.
“Tens of thousands of families are being thrown out of their homes, and we need to be aggressive and creative in our efforts to stop it,” Bonin said last month. “The Ellis Act is causing a major hemorrhage of our affordable housing, and until the state repeals or reforms it, we are determined to explore and try anything to restrict its application or lessen its horrendous impacts.”
Larry Gross, the executive director for the Coalition of Economic Survival, said the Ellis Act is responsible for the loss of the 26,000 rent-controlled, affordable housing units since 2001.
“This represents over 26,000 households that have been displaced from their homes and likely now are paying double or triple the rents they were paying far from the neighborhoods they lived in,” Gross said.
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