Although I am no longer in office, over the past several weeks, many renters have been reaching out to me with questions, or seeking assistance. There is a lot of confusion about what is required of tenants as of August 1, and considerable fear about a dramatic spike in evictions and a worsening of the homelessness crisis. The confusion is understandable, and obligations and rights vary depending on the specific situation. Here is some information that might be helpful for renters in the City of Los Angeles:
What is significant about August 1?
Today is the deadline for payment of back rent from the first 18 months of the pandemic. That means that tenants are required to pay rent debt accumulated between March 1, 2020 to September 30, 2021. However, tenants who followed certain protections under state law cannot be evicted for the past due rent.
What protects me from eviction if I still owe back rent?
If you meet certain requirements, a landlord can go to small claims court to collect the back rent, but they cannot evict you. The requirements are:
- The tenant provided their landlord a Declaration of COVID-19 hardship form within 15 days of rent due for rent owed from March 1, 2020 through August 2020.
- The tenant provided their landlord a Declaration of COVID-19 hardship AND paid 25% of their rent for rent owed from September 1, 2020 through September 20, 2021.
If I do not meet those requirements, can I be evicted?
If you do noT meet those criteria, your landlord can initiate eviction proceedings IF you owe more than one month’s rent. (A landlord could previously evict for any amount of past due rent, but the City Council created this new protection earlier this year.)
Can I be evicted for other reasons?
Yes. The city’s eviction moratorium has ended, but a landlord must have “just cause” ( a good reason) to evict you. This is a huge new protection from eviction. You can find out what a “just cause” is, and when it applies, here.
What should I do if I receive an eviction notice?
VERY IMPORTANT: Do not “self-evict” by vacating your unit. Call the Los Angeles Housing Department hotline at 866–557–7368.
If you receive an “Unlawful Detainer Notice,” t is vitally important that you respond within 5 days, or you will lose your rights to fight it. It can be confusing, but there are tools to help you. The Tenant Power Toolkit, designed by The Debt Collective, The LA Tenants Union, The Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, UCLA Luskin Institute on Inequality & Democracy, ACCE Action, anti-eviction lawyers and legal service providers, is a great start.
You can also attend a workshop by or get more information from Stay Housed LA, a partnership between the city, county and legal service providers.
What are some other tenant protections in place?
If you live in a rent-controlled unit, your landlord cannot raise the rent until January 31, 2024. If you believe you have received a rent increase in violation of the rules, file a complaint by calling (866) 557–7368.
Tenants who receive a rent increase of more than 10% within a 12 month period and are unable to afford the rent increase have the option to receive relocation assistance to move out of their rental unit.
The City has rules against tenant harassment (things like a landlord refusing to complete required repairs, threatening physical harm, asking about immigration status, and more. To see a full list of what qualifies as renter harassment in the City of Los Angeles, click HERE. If harassment is taking place, report it to The LA Housing Department and contact a legal assistance group. A list of groups is at bit.ly/LAlegalservices.
How big is the threat of mass evictions in Los Angeles and what is being done to prevent it?
The threat is huge. We’re already seeing record numbers of evictions as rents and cost of living continues to skyrocket across LA. There are an estimated 278,000 households in Los Angeles County currently behind on rent.
Last fall, voters approved Measure ULA, which funds housing and renter assistance programs. Mayor Bass and Councilmember Nithya Raman have proposed using ULA funds for short-term emergency rental assistance for low-income tenant households, and other eviction prevention and defense programs. The proposal will be in the council’s Housing & Homelessness Committee August 2, and is expected to go to the full council soon after that.
Are there other resources I should know about?
Stay Housed LA: https://www.stayhousedla.org/
The Tenant Power Toolkit: https://tenantpowertoolkit.org/
Los Angeles Housing Department: https://housing.lacity.org/covid-19/renter-protections
Councilmember Nithya has a great site full of information and resources: https://councildistrict4.lacity.gov/renterrightscd4
Councilmember Hugo Soto-Martinez has a great list of resources, including links to legal help, instructions on how to respond to an eviction notice, and first steps toward preparing a legal defense. Visit bit.ly/larenterhelp.
The mayor’s tenant resource page: https://mayor.lacity.gov/TenantResources
How can I join the fight for tenant protections and renter rights in Los Angeles?
Keep LA Housed is a coalition of advocacy groups fighting for a Tenant Bill of Rights: https://www.keeplahoused.org/