South LA

L.A. City Council approves new anti-eviction policies to protect renters

The updated protections signify a victory for tenants’ rights in L.A.

The Los Angeles City Council voted Friday to add more anti-eviction protections for L.A. renters, which will safeguard an additional 400,000 housing units from receiving eviction notices before previous protections implemented at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic expire.

According to City News Service, City Attorney Hydee Feldstein Soto will implement city council recommendations to extend housing measures and eliminate certain eviction rules for L.A. tenants. This includes banning landlords from evicting tenants from single-family homes and instating an eviction grace period for tenants who may fall behind on rent.

Jacqueline Burbank, the advocacy and communications manager at Inner City Law Center – an organization that represents low-income tenants who have been unlawfully evicted – said that the new measures will provide a buffer period for families facing eviction.

“We are very excited about these changes because tenant protections are oftentimes all that stand between average people and homelessness,” Burbank said. “Rents are so high in Los Angeles that oftentimes all it takes is one disaster in your life before you are facing eviction.”

According to Burbank, families can now prepare emergency backup plans to avoid living on the streets after eviction. Landlords will also face more responsibility to provide renters with just causes for evictions, rather than sporadic removals.

The South Los Angeles Community Plan Implementation Overlay Ordinance said the new protection plan will make rent more affordable and unlawful eviction less likely.

Tenants aren’t always notified of these protection plans, though. Maria Patiño Gutierrez, the director of policy and research at SAJE – Strategic Actions for a Just Economy – said that legal counsel and eviction education is just as important as policy change. Citywide changes must trickle down to local communities.

“More than anything, what’s going to be really important is for organizations like us to be able to inform community members because not everyone knows. Too many people do not know their rights.”

In the last decade, there have been nearly 500,000 evictions in L.A. county, according to L.A. County superior court records. These figures also indicate that expiring tenant protections implemented at the height of the pandemic dropped yearly evictions to around 13,000 annually.

María Cruz, a South L.A. tenant who lives near USC, said the neighborhood has become dirtier and more dangerous in the past several years. However, moving out is not an option for her – South L.A. has been her home for 40 years.

“I live alone, and I have to pay for everything,” Cruz said. With no one to split the fee with, Cruz said she has to pay $50 per month to have her small amount of trash picked up.

Nearly 65% of L.A. households are occupied by renters, while 37% are occupied by owners. A 2022 report by the Los Angeles Homelessness Initiative concluded that L.A. County needs to add nearly 500,000 affordable housing units to meet the demand of renters at or below 50% of the median income in L.A.

“There’s a finite amount of land by that amount of space,” said Kenyatta Brazie, a South L.A. tenant just a few blocks from USC. “Sometimes when they purchase old properties, tear them down and repurpose them and build new. That kind of displacement does happen.”

While the new policy may not decrease the overall rate of homelessness in L.A. – which stands at nearly 70,000 people according to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority – it could pave the way for additional housing protections in the future.

“One vote won’t be the deciding factor that addresses or fixes homelessness in Los Angeles, but every victory is a step in addressing the problem. It’s an important step,” Burbank said.