LA Council passes emergency ordinance protecting renters amid rent control crisis

The Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved an emergency measure to protect tenants from “no-fault” evictions until new statewide rent control legislation takes effect next year.

All 14 councilmembers present at the LA City Council meeting Tuesday voted to approve an emergency ordinance that protects LA tenants from “no-fault” evictions before January 1, 2020. This comes in response to recent complaints from renters and rent control advocacy groups over a surge of seemingly unwarranted eviction notices.

Governor Gavin Newsom passed the Tenant Protection Act earlier this month, a bill capping rent control to a five percent annual increase and prohibiting evictions without “just cause”. Many advocacy groups and renters believe that this has prompted some LA landlords to evict current occupants in order to rent to new tenants at higher rates before this legislation takes effect.

“A lot of these 60-day [eviction] notices were given in anticipation of AB 1482 [the Tenant Protection Act]” noted a Hyland Park local in a statement to council members during Tuesday’s meeting, “my seven-year-old daughter and I received a 60-day notice in late July and our vacate day was last Thursday, but we have not received any additional notices because [the landlords] are waiting on [the LA Council] to see your move, so they know what they can do."

While the majority of LA renters already receive these protections from the Temporary Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO), the emergency ordinance passed Tuesday will extend protections against unwarranted evictions and a limit of five percent annual rent increases to the estimated 138,000 L.A. tenants not protected by the RSO.

Community members present at Tuesday’s meeting were happy with the Council’s unanimous support. “The Council did what they should do, they stuck up for renters today,” commented Joshua Smith, the communications director of Housing is a Human Right, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s housing advocacy division.

Despite today’s victory for LA tenants, the need for this ordinance reflects the bigger issues regarding housing and rent control. As of 2013, Los Angeles has been considered the most “rent-burdened” city in the nation, with the majority of tenants in the county dedicating over 30% of their income to paying rent.

A need for further action was articulated by Councilmember David Ryu. “I’m so happy that this motion is coming forth today, but we need more,” noted Ryu during Tuesday’s meeting. “We can’t stop here, we need Ellis Act reform, we need to live in a city where it’s possible to rent an apartment, raise a family, and be safe from displacement once and for all.”

Smith stressed the importance of upcoming elections in further tackling the California rent control and housing crises. “One of the things we [the Housing is a Human Right organization] are most focused on right now is increasing awareness about the Rental Affordability Act, which offers the possibility of rent control to millions of more Californians, that’ll be on the state ballots in November 2020.”

While it’s hard to gauge the Rental Affordability Act’s success on the 2020 statewide ballot, early polls indicate that Californians are very supportive of the measure. A poll administered by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation found that 75% of respondents expressed being “likely” or “extremely likely” to vote for RAA during the 2020 cycle.