LA County supervisors propose enacting permanent tenancy protections

LA County supervisors propose enacting permanent tenancy protections

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday proposed permanently adopting several rental assistance programs as rental protections — many of which were put in place at the start of the pandemic — are set to expire at the end of the pandemic. end of the year.

Some of the proposals would be the first of their kind in LA County, including allowing tenants to avoid eviction if they are about a month behind in rent.

Although illegal evictions or detentions have not completely ceased during the pandemic, many rental protections have reduced the number of evictions. County staff plan to embark on a massive outreach effort to let tenants and landlords know that these protections will be dissolved.

The county will work to make permanent several programs, which will help low-income tenants access legal services and housing assistance and set limits on the types of questions landlords can ask tenants.

County staff will get back to supervisors over the next several months with an analysis of the proposed updates.

Other proposals include setting monetary thresholds for evictions for nonpayment, meaning a landlord could be blocked by the courts if a tenant owes less than a certain amount on their rent. The county will also consider providing assistance to family landlords if they promise not to evict a tenant for a certain period.

Rent increases could be capped at 3% for some apartments until 2024.

“We want people who owe, say, a third of a month’s rent not to be evicted,” supervisor Sheila Kuehl said at the board meeting.

Kuehl and supervisor Hilda Solis co-authored many proposals.

Solis said recent results from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority’s annual count showed a 4% increase in the number of homeless people from 2020 to 2022.

“As a county, we understand that this number could have been higher without the many relief programs we have put in place over the past two and a half years,” Solis said in a statement.

The motion passed 4 to 1, with Supervisor Kathryn Barger casting her dissenting vote.

Supervisor Holly Mitchell and Kuehl also directed county staff to make the Stay Housed LA eviction support program a permanent service for low-income tenants that would continue under the county’s Department of Consumer and Corporate Affairs. . The program would aim to provide legal defense to tenants by 2027.

“The difficulties experienced by tenants in eviction cases when seeking legal aid indicate a significant gap between the civil legal needs of low-income people and the resources available to meet those needs,” Mitchell and Kuehl said. in their proposal, which was adopted with unanimous approval.

Although the proposals were passed, the owners say they were not factored into the county’s decision.

In a letter to the board, the Valley Industry & Commerce Assn. said the proposals to limit screening questions for tenants were submitted without any input from landlords.

“These changes will further burden landlords who are already struggling under tenant protections granted at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Victor Berrellez, president of the group.

Barger said the county has asked a lot of landlords with the rent protections put in place during the pandemic and that they will now be limited in how they can adjust to hyper-inflation and called the motion of the council of “whip to every landlord who maintains rental properties” in unincorporated parts of the county.

“I sincerely hope these new regulations do not negatively impact our already scarce housing supply by causing landlords to forgo listing their homes,” Barger said in a statement.

Attorney Jonathan Jager of the nonprofit Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, which provides free eviction defense to low-income tenants, said the county is relying on the protections it has put in place. place during the pandemic.

“The county painted large-scale wards early in the pandemic, which benefited people from losing their homes and allowed those people to shelter in place,” Jager told The Times. “They are taking big steps to see which protections were most important to prevent people from being evicted and becoming homeless. Now the [county] shading in the details of these protections.

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