Eviction Moratoriums: Where Do We Stand in the City and County of Los Angeles?
This article is contributed by the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles
There has been a great deal of “back and forth” on the status of the eviction moratoriums in the City of Los Angeles and County of Los Angeles, we felt it was important to provide today’s status. For the most part, the ban on evictions for COVID-related hardships will terminate by January 31, 2023 when the City of Los Angeles’ moratorium finally ends, but for some tenants, protections for no-fault evictions will remain.
City of Los Angeles Eviction Moratorium
First adopted back in March 2020, the City of Los Angeles eviction moratorium is now scheduled to expire as of January 31, 2023 (a few weeks shy of its 3rd anniversary). The City of Los Angeles did not significantly amend the eviction moratorium since the second quarter of 2020. As it stands today, landlords may not file unlawful detainer proceedings to evict tenants residing in the City who qualify for protection under the terms of the ordinance (until February 1, 2023).
Tenants Failing to Pay RentThe moratorium protects tenants from eviction “for the failure to pay rent” if the tenant is “unable to pay rent due to circumstance related to the COVID-19” pandemic. Examples include those suffering a “loss of income due to workplace closure or reduced hours due to COVID-19,” a “loss of income or increased child care expenditures due to school closures,” a tenant with “health care expenditures stemming from COVID-19 infection of the tenant or a member of the tenant’s household who is ill with COVID-19,” and tenants with “reasonable expenditures stemming from government ordered emergency measures.”
Under the City’s moratorium, for all months up through and including November 2022, a tenant need not provide a landlord with any notice or documentation supporting the tenant’s claim for protection. To qualify for protection for December 2022 and January 2023 rents, the tenant must provide notice of his inability to pay rent within 7 days after the rent became due. Unless extended, the moratorium on eviction for failure to pay rent expires at the end of January 2023.
While evictions may occur for impacted, non-paying tenants beginning in February 2023, tenants are not required to pay their respective landlords back-due rent at that time. According to the City, rent accruing between March 1, 2020 and September 30, 2021 must be repaid on or before August 1, 2023. Rent accruing between October 1, 2021 and January 31, 2023 must be repaid on or before February 1, 2024.
No-Fault EvictionsThe City continues to prohibit “no fault” evictions during the local emergency period, which expires on January 31, 2023. “No fault” evictions relate to those unlawful detainer proceedings filed to evict tenants for reasons unrelated to the “fault” of the tenant. This would include evictions at the end of lease terms where the tenant has not signed a lease renewal on mutually agreeable terms. Unlike the prohibition on evictions for the failure to pay rent, this prohibition is not dependent upon whether the impacted tenant qualifies for protection due to a COVID-19-related reason. This prohibition should sunset as of January 31, 2023.
Ellis Act EvictionsThe City also continues to prohibit Ellis Act evictions, e.g., evictions necessary for the landlord to remove the unit from the rental market. Like the “no fault” eviction prohibition, the Ellis Act eviction prohibition is not a function of whether the tenant has been impacted in some way by the COVID-19 pandemic. This prohibition should also sunset as of January 31, 2023.
County of Los Angeles Eviction Moratorium
The County of Los Angeles also adopted its eviction moratorium in March 2020. Unlike the City moratorium, the County eviction ban required tenants to notify landlords of their COVID-19-related hardship within 7 days after rent became due. The Los Angeles County eviction ban was amended several times and had initially expired on its own terms in October 2020. According to the County, the County’s efforts to renew the ban on evictions for failure to pay rent (but not the other bans for no-fault evictions) was preempted by State law beginning October 1, 2020.
When the County attempted to renew its ban in January 2022 (with the impending expiration of the State-law preemptive period on April 1, 2022), the County provided a phase-out of the eviction ban for the failure to pay rent through December 31, 2022. Beginning July 1, 2022, the ban on failure to pay rent applied only to households earning 80% or less of the area median income. Because the State Legislature extended the preemptive provisions through June 30, 2022, the County’s renewed eviction ban only applied to tenants suffering COVID-19-related hardship beginning in July 1, 2022 and applied only to those households at or below the 80% AMI.
In October 2022, the federal district court for the Central District of California, Judge Pregerson, granted a motion for preliminary injunction to co-plaintiffs, Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles and Apartment Owners Association of California, prohibiting the continued enforcement of the renewed eviction ban beginning December 1, 2022. In his ruling, Judge Pregerson, however, allowed the County the opportunity to correct the components of the moratorium rendering the ordinance unconstitutionally vague. On or about November 15, 2022, the County attempted to do so, and accordingly, the County’s moratorium is still in effect as to the components discussed below.
Evictions for Failure to Pay RentThe County’s ban on evictions for the failure to pay rent is still in effect with respect only to those households earning at or below 80% of the Area Median Income. This eviction protection will expire on its own terms as of December 31, 2022. Tenants qualifying for protection must notify landlords within seven days after their rent became due of their inability to pay because of a COVID-19-related hardship. The County’s November 2022 amendment provides more detail on what constitutes a “Financial Impact” sufficient to warrant protection under the amended moratorium. Financial Impacts’ means any of the following:
- Substantial loss of household income caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. ‘Substantial loss’ means a loss of at least 10% of the Tenant’s average monthly household income for the 12-month period immediately preceding March 1, 2020, as may be established by pay stubs, payment receipts, letters from employers, or other evidence; or
- Increased or extraordinary costs in food, fuel, childcare, and/or unreimbursed medical expenses in an amount greater than 7.5% of the Tenant’s average monthly income for the 12-month period immediately preceding March 1, 2020.
As noted, the above protections will expire on their own terms as of the end of 2022.
No-Fault EvictionsWhen the County attempted to correct the problems related to its ban for failure to pay rent, it also extended its ban on no-fault evictions through June 30, 2023. Those protections will remain in place until that time.
While tenants may have claimed “COVID-related hardships,” based on the ruling in the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles’s and Apartment Owners Association’s case, it is clear that tenants self-certification is no longer sufficient evidence and that tenants must prove their “COVID-related hardships” for the entire period in which rent was not paid, and without the ability to do so, they would face eviction.
Finally, the County of Los Angeles had taken the position that its eviction protections are applicable to both unincorporated areas of the County and all incorporated areas and municipalities that do not have stronger protections in place. Accordingly, “no-fault” protections that remain in place in the County until June 30, 2023, may be applicable to sections of the County outside of the unincorporated areas, and it is advised that you seek appropriate legal advice for applicability to your particular situation.
This article is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions regarding your property or specific tenancies and the requirements of any local law changes described herein, please consult with an attorney.