Los Angeles City Councilman David Ryu Wednesday conducted a conference call with officials from the city’s Housing and Community Investment Department and organizations that work with tenants to discuss issues with the city’s emergency rent laws in place during the coronavirus pandemic.
Under the emergency laws, most renters cannot be evicted, but residential tenants still have to pay the rent they owe within 12 months after the Safer at Home orders are lifted. Ryu said he and other council members are trying to pass additional laws to further protect renters.
“To all the seniors, to our teachers, to our working families, to the renters, I got your back,” Ryu said. “The City Council has your back and the city of Los Angeles has your back.”
Under the city’s emergency ordinances:
— No rent increases are allowed as of March 4 for Rent Stabilization Ordinance units, which are apartments build before 1978;
— Tenants cannot be evicted for nonpayment of rent as a result of reduced income or lost work hours related to the pandemic;
— All no-fault evictions cannot take place during this time and landlords cannot evict people to move in themselves;
— Ellis Act evictions are currently not allowed, which is a process landlords can enter if they want to demolish their building or get out of the rental market altogether; and,
— Renters cannot be evicted for moving in additional pets or a family member, and they cannot be evicted for causing too much noise because, for example, children are at home at this time.
Ryu said landlords cannot require their tenants to provide documentation to prove they’ve been affected by the pandemic and cannot pay rent, but they may want to save any documents that could help them in a court case.
People do not have to sign a contract immediately with their landlords to enter payment plans once the pandemic subsides, the councilman said.
On Tuesday, Ryu filed a motion with Councilman Mike Bonin that would put a stop to all evictions for residents.
The councilmen also filed a resolution to ask the federal government to provide rent and mortgage forgiveness, as paying for housing will not be the only debt people have accrued during the pandemic.
“Whether it’s partial or the entirety of it, we need to have some kind of mechanism that goes back to forgive part of this debt, otherwise everyone is going to be in a world of hurt,” Ryu said, adding that landlords also need financial assistance.
The California Judicial Council on Monday ordered all eviction proceedings to be put on hold, and said court summons will not be served to tenants during the pandemic.
However, landlords can still file eviction notices with the courts to be decided 90 days after the pandemic ends, said Skip Koenig of the Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles.
“Unfortunately, what we’re seeing now are three-day eviction notices against tenants, and courts are not accepting any legal filings on evictions at this point,” Koenig said, “but we still don’t know if those three-day notices can be (enforced) after the crisis is over.”
Larry Gross, the executive director of the Coalition for Economic Survival, said his organization has been trying to contact tenants to make sure their rights are upheld.
“There have been numerous laws to protect against evictions, but not all tenants and landlords know their rights, and we’ve seen an abundance of fear and confusion,” Gross said. “We’ve had hundreds of calls and emails (from tenants), asking what they can do because they’ve lost their jobs and don’t have the money to pay their rent.”
Ryu announced a tenants’ rights initiative started this week, and his staff has been charged with contact tens of thousands of renters in his Fourth Council District to inform them of their rights, contact landlords in violation of the emergency laws and refer landlords to enforcement agencies, if necessary.
Ryu said his office received complaints from tenants in a dozen apartment complexes in his council district who received letters and repayment agreements from landlords with incorrect information.
Any tenant in Council District 4 can contact Ryu’s office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 213-473-7004 to report issues.
The Los Angeles Housing and Community Investment Department is accepting complaints from tenants who believe they’re being illegally forced out, which can be submitted to HCIDLA@lacity.org or by phone at 866-557-7368.
More information on the city’s emergency rental laws is available at hcidla.lacity.org/covid-19-renter-protections.
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