While many COVID-related policies have expired across the majority of the country, Los Angeles recently voted to renew its eviction moratorium, which has caused widespread frustration and extreme difficulty for some property owners.
“Our home has been stolen from us so that tenants, one of whom owns a DeLorean, can go to Burning Man and rent yachts for birthday parties and sail up in hot air balloons,” a Los Angeles property owner said at a recent press conference. “Our home has been stolen from us, not by our tenants, but by the overly broad policies created under Mayor Garcetti upheld by the majority of our City Council.”
“You can’t walk into your neighborhood grocery store and say, ‘Because food is a necessity, I’m going to walk out without paying,'” Cheryl Turner, board president of the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles, said. “But we are being criticized for asserting our rights to collect our rent.”
An eviction moratorium essentially ensures landlords can’t evict tenants if they don’t pay rent. California put an eviction moratorium in place during the pandemic, and it fully ended on June 30th of this year. Still, the L.A. City Council recently voted to extend its own moratorium again. It will remain in place through August next year, or up to one year after the local emergency declaration ends. Another vote is expected later this year.
Theoretically, the tenants will owe the rent when the moratorium ends, but collecting that money won’t be easy in many cases. Landlords will have the right to evict at that time, but in the meantime, many of these landlords are unable to pay their mortgages. At a recent press conference at City Hall, landlords argued that this eviction moratorium could bankrupt some of them and force them into foreclosure. They say that some tenants are taking advantage of the program.
Those on the other side of the issue say the moratorium is necessary because people are still struggling to make ends meet. Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), a “racial and social justice” organization, protested outside the City Council gathering, pushing the landlords to take their press conference indoors.
“A lot of people still…haven’t been able to pay the rent and they’re going to end up homeless,” ACCE member Elizabeth Hernandez reportedly said.
Councilman John Lee was the only council member not to vote for the extension. He has been working alongside landlords trying to find a solution.
“Set a date, a date certain that they can look forward to and they can plan for in the future,” Lee said. “This eviction moratorium has got to end.”
Rent might become an even more problematic issue in the state due to inflation and a state law signed in 2019. The Tenant Protection Act doesn’t allow landlords to raise the rent more than 5% each year, “plus the percentage change in the cost of living,” or in other words, inflation. They could also increase it by 10%, whichever amount is lower. In the past, the total increase has been between 5.7% and 9%.
Since inflation is at record highs, many landlords throughout the state can raise rents by 10%. The 10% cap doesn’t apply to all housing, however, so some landlords could technically raise rents more. However, landlords’ hands are tied if there is an eviction moratorium, like in L.A. Even if they raise the rent, they can’t necessarily collect it.