L.A. Looks to Halt COVID-Era Protections Against Rent Hikes and Evictions

The protections may end as soon as January, and close out one of the nation’s longest tenant defenses during the pandemic

Los Angeles City Council is looking at a proposal that would gradually bring its COVID protections against evictions and rent raises to a halt. By January, the city could sunset what became one of the nation’s withstanding and extended tenant safeguards during the pandemic, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Beginning in 2023, landlords’ power to evict tenants behind on rent could return, regardless of the circumstances behind the delays, including anything related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This was sprung in a proposal released by the city housing department last week, which also calls for rent-controlled apartments to once again be subject to rent hikes by January 2024.

“As we recover to a new normal, the city must provide clarity to both landlords and renters on the timeline when current and past due rent must be repaid and temporary eviction restrictions lifted,” the document states.

“Landlords testified that they have endured the brunt of the pandemic and that no other industry has been subjected to the restrictions imposed on the rental housing industry,” it continues.

If the proposal were to pass through City Council, it would put L.A. back on similar terms as other cities across the state and country are now, which have repealed or let expire renter protections. It would also mark the end of a roughly four-year period in which tenants did not experience a rent increase; those who fell behind during the pandemic would have until August 2023 to repay what’s owed.

However, Los Angeles’ protections are widely considered to be an anomaly, given how strict they are and how long they’ve endured. Dan Yukelson, head of the Apartment Association of Los Angeles, says that the city’s rules have been “far worse than any others,” and many landlords are keeping their expectations low for recovering past-due debts.

“It’s very easy for the city to push this on the backs of landlords and have them suffer longer and be responsible for the entire support system for these renters,” Yukelson told the Times. “It’s not fair.”

Faizah Malik, a senior staff attorney with Public Counsel, witnessed the hardships the pandemic has had on tenants. His law firm actively works to assist low-income renters across the city.

“Even we have to acknowledge the emergency protections can’t go on forever,” Malik said. “But we can’t go back to what it was pre-pandemic because in some ways, things are worse now.”

For comparison, New York’s eviction protections related to the pandemic expired in January. Now, parts of the city just witnessed their highest ever average rent, with prices in Manhattan climbing to a staggering median and average rents to a respective $4,150 and $5,113 per month.

It is yet to be known if renters in Los Angeles will face a similar fate, but the proposal is now being assessed by the Council.

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