You’ve heard of the roommate from hell. They don’t pay their rent, they move in a boyfriend, they trash the apartment.
But there are nightmare tenants, too. They’re the same people, but living in your home — the home you own.
Scenarios like this have become daily life for some Los Angeles landlords, who have been unable to evict delinquent tenants ever since emergency protections went into effect for renters who say they have been financially hurt by the pandemic.
One Pasadena couple who spoke to The Daily Wire says they have been unable for months to collect rent from a tenant who leased a new car and frequently buys new clothes and gets food delivered.
Another couple purchased a house last summer in nearby Carson. Months later, they still could not move in as a tenant from the previous owner refused to leave. Yet another couple in Riverside, which is outside of L.A. County and located in Riverside County, was unable to move into their new house when the sellers became squatters and continued to live in the home for more than a year.
Los Angeles County extended its eviction moratorium again in January, just days before it was set to expire, to the chagrin of landlords who had hoped to finally start making up some of the money they lost over the last two years. The Board of Supervisors voted on January 25 to extend the moratorium so that it protects some tenants all the way up to well into 2023.
Tenants earning at or below 80% of the area median income cannot be evicted before June 2023, and they do not have to prove their income level to their landlord. Until the end of this year, landlords are also not permitted to evict a tenant for nuisance, unauthorized occupants, or pets.
The Pasadena couple’s troubles started as soon as they moved into their new home, according to the husband, who spoke to The Daily Wire on the condition of anonymity.
He and his wife bought the home, which has been valued at over $1.5 million according to Redfin, at the end of 2020. The seller assured them that the woman renting the property’s guest house was a good tenant, but she immediately began paying her rent later and later in “dribs and drabs,” the husband said. This was a significant issue for the couple because, he said, they had been counting on the rent money to pay their property taxes.
The couple appealed to Housing Is Key, California’s emergency rent relief program, and was able to recoup some of the rent money after five months of waiting.
However, the program shuttered at the end of March. Meanwhile, the eviction moratorium will continue for another year and change. Currently, they are missing about three months of rent from the tenant, the husband said.
“The moratorium is going to continue. So that’s the problem,” the husband told The Daily Wire. “There is no more money to even get paid late, yet they’ve continued it for an additional year, and there’s no plan whatsoever.”
The husband said he was passed around from one government office to another in a circle as he tried to get clarity on his options. He spoke with all five county supervisors’ offices and was passed to the Department of Consumer and Business Affairs, which passed him to Housing Is Key, which passed him to his state representative, which passed him back to the county supervisors, he said.
Overall, the county’s approach has been a “headless wonder masquerading as a master plan,” the frustrated landlord said.
Last weekend, the situation took another turn, he said. His tenant allegedly drove down the driveway at close to 30 miles per hour and ran over the family cat. She left the gate open despite having been asked to keep it closed, and coyotes came into the yard during the night and ate the dead cat, he said. The husband added that he found pieces of the cat in her tire well, and when he confronted her, she denied it and accused him of being racist towards her. As the confrontation escalated, the tenant got in her car and drove away, nearly running the landlord over in the driveway, he said. At that point, he says he called the police.
Besides causing a mountain of trouble and financial loss, the situation has also caused the couple to delay their plans to have children even though his wife is in her mid-30s, and they would like to start a family soon, he said.
“The government would rather have me go and become homeless or have to sell my house, my house that I’ve worked for my whole life,” the husband said. “This is the first house I’ve ever bought. I lived in a tiny little apartment for 11 years, saved up. I never missed a payment.”
The lone Republican elected to the L.A. County Board of Supervisors, Kathryn Barger, opposed extending the eviction moratorium. Barger and another board member later proposed relieving landlords of property tax penalties, and the board approved that measure on March 15.
“I’ve heard repeatedly from many property owners the devastating financial toll the pandemic has taken on them,” Barger said. “Some are elderly individuals who depend on their rental income to make ends meet. We can’t in good conscience balance COVID-19 relief on the backs of property owners. The county needed to put some skin in the game, and this motion was about delivering on the promise to share in the financial burden.”
However, the tax penalty relief is a “joke” and provides cold comfort for struggling landlords, the Pasadena landlord who spoke with The Daily Wire said.
Earlier this month, two landlord associations sued Los Angeles County over the eviction moratorium, signaling that many landlords are ready to go on the offensive.
The Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles (AAGLA) and the Apartment Owners Association of California (AOA) filed a joint lawsuit on behalf of landlords, including the groups’ members. The suit seeks a preliminary injunction against the extended eviction moratorium, arguing that it was supposed to be temporary.
Elsewhere in California, property owners have become caught in demoralizing and futile eviction attempts as well.
Another couple, Myles and Tracie Albert, bought a $650,000 dream house on a hilltop in Riverside. But when they tried to move in, the seller suddenly refused to turn over the keys. The COVID-19 pandemic began shortly afterward, and California’s COVID-19 eviction protections allowed the sellers turned squatters, identified in court documents as Sam Boktor and his wife Miriam Khalil, to remain in the home for a total of 15 months, according to a local report.
Back in October 2020, Tracie Albert and some friends went to the home with a locksmith and tried to get inside. Video from FOX 11 shows Boktor coming to the door screaming at Albert and waving a tire iron. The squatters called law enforcement, who told Albert she must leave, and she did.
The Alberts were finally able to take possession of their home in April of last year, but by then there were so many bad memories attached that they decided to sell it and stay in their old house.
Myles Albert says he blames California’s short-sighted approach to COVID restrictions for his family’s nightmare.
“The opposite of what would be the right thing to do is how everything seems to be run out here. It’s just insane,” he told The Daily Wire.
“It seems so odd to me that California goes, ‘you just don’t have to pay rent,’ and it’s like okay, well, what about the people paying mortgage?” he said. “How could you not even think one step beyond the first step of saying ‘no you just don’t have to pay rent?'”