The Los Angeles City Council has adopted Feb. 3 an ordinance providing tenants who are behind on their rent with a one-month grace period prior to their landlord beginning eviction proceedings, but there were not enough votes for it to take effect immediately.
The ordinance is part of a package of renter aid the council began discussing after it voted to let the COVID-19 state of emergency expire at the end of January. The council’s decision also sunset the temporary tenant relief programs that have been in place since the start of the pandemic.
The ordinance allows tenants behind on rent to stay in their apartments for a month, unless they owe more than one month’s worth of fair market rent. The draft ordinance included an urgency clause, but because it only received nine votes—three short of the 12 votes required to activate the clause—it will take effect in 31 days. Councilwoman Traci Park cast the lone dissenting vote. Two councilmen, Paul Krekorian and Curren Price, recused themselves because they are landlords. Councilmen Bob Blumenfield and John Lee were absent.
Earlier this month, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors extended by two months its eviction moratorium for those impacted by COVID-19, which would also cover city residents.
The council previously adopted an ordinance providing universal just cause requiring reasons for evictions, and voted for an ordinance Jan. 31 for relocation assistance if a tenant cannot afford rent increases of a certain amount. The relocation assistance ordinance will return to the council the following week for a final vote.
According to the city’s housing department, fair market rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles is $1,747 and $2,222 for a two-bedroom.
Tenant groups feared a wave of evictions once the long-standing eviction ban expires. The volume of eviction filings has begun to resemble pre-pandemic levels, according to Kyle Nelson, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California–Los Angeles and a member of the LA Renters’ Right to Counsel Coalition.
Nelson, who has compiled data on evictions in Los Angeles County during the pandemic through court filings, said the number of filings could increase to levels not seen since the Great Recession—from December 2007 to June 2009—which contributed to more than 72,000 eviction filings in 2008. According to the National Equity Atlas, there are 226,000 households in Los Angeles County behind on rent.