Local Advocacy Update: City of Los Angeles Approves Detrimental Permanent Rental Housing Ordinances.
Local Advocacy Update
By Janet M. Gagnon, Director, Government Affairs & External Relations, Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles
City of Los Angeles Approves Detrimental Permanent Rental Housing Ordinances. At the February 3rd and February 7th Los Angeles City Council meetings, the Council approved two harmful, permanent rental housing policy changes.
Threshold Requirement Prior to Eviction
The first ordinance would re-define the “at-fault” basis for evictions due to non-payment of rent, by setting a monetary threshold for the amount in rental arrears that a renter must owe before a housing provider may issue a tenancy termination. A rental housing provider's ability to evict for non-payment of rent would be restricted to where the renter is in default for an amount that “exceeds one month of the fair market rent for the Los Angeles metro area set annually by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for an equivalent sized rental unit as that occupied by the tenant.” Based on that formula, in Fiscal Year 2023, a renter in a one-bedroom unit would have to owe rent an amount that is more than $1,747 for the housing provider to be permitted to issue an eviction notice. This new threshold applies to all rental units within the City of Los Angeles, including units covered by the City’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO), non-RSO, single family houses, Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) and condominiums.
New Relocation Fees for All Rentals Not Covered by RSO or State Rent Control
The second ordinance requires rental housing providers of newer buildings, single-family homes, condominiums, and Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) not subject to the City’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO) or state rent control law per Assembly Bill 1482, to pay relocation fees when a renter chooses to move out “due to their inability to pay a proposed rental increase that exceeds the lesser of (1) the Consumer Price Index – All Urban Consumers, plus five percent, or (2) ten percent.” These relocation fees are significant at “three times the fair market rent in the Los Angeles Metro area for a rental unit of similar size as established by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development plus $1,411 in moving costs.” These fees would be paid to all renters regardless of financial circumstances. The draft ordinance provides for a reduced relocation fee equal to one month of the renter’s rent at the time the written notice of the rent increase was issued, where the rental unit is a single-family home and the rental housing provider is a small owner, as defined in the ordinance. The relocation fee is intended to be due on a cash for keys basis, but specific details are still pending from the Rent Adjustment Commission (RAC) as to the precise number of days prior to the renter leaving the unit that the payment must be provided to the renter.
City of Los Angeles Council Members Raman, Soto-Martinez, Hernandez, Blumenfield and Yaroslovsky Seek Giveaway to Private Lawyers to Fight Against Mom-and-Pop Owners. On February 14th, Los Angeles City Council Members and acknowledged Democratic Socialists Nithya Raman, Hugo Soto-Martinez, and Eunisses Hernandez as well as Council Members Bob Blumenfield and Katy Yaroslavsky submitted a motion to establish a Right to Counsel giving renters an attorney paid for by the City to fight against lawful evictions and other terminations of tenancy with Council Member Marqueece Harris-Dawson seconding the motion. The motion provides for “full legal representation” by private attorneys for renters. However, the motion is silent on the growing problem that many independent, mom-and-pop rental owners are facing of being extorted by professional squatters that are purposefully abusing the legal system with the assistance of unscrupulous lawyers. The justification given for the motion is that many eviction proceedings go uncontested by the renters. These City Council Members fail to realize that vast majority of evictions are based on the simple fact that the renter cannot or will not pay the rent. As they have no justification for failing to fulfill their legal obligation to pay the rent, they do challenge the eviction. However, these 6 City Council Members believe that spending $34.6 million annually in taxpayer funds to line the pockets of private attorneys is a better approach then merely using those same funds to help renters pay the rent that is legally owed, so that renters and rental housing owners can avoid the eviction process entirely. AAGLA has already sent out an Editorial Alert to our members in the City of Los Angeles urging them to call or email these City Council members to tell them to STOP the Giveaway to Private Lawyers and instead help renters PAY THE RENT by creating new City subsidies for renters in financial need. Several other cities already have City subsidies, including Santa Monica, Long Beach and West Hollywood. AAGLA will continue to strongly oppose this Right to Counsel motion when it is discussed at the Housing and Homelessness Committee, which is Chaired by Council Member Raman.
Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Extends Moratoriums For an Additional 60 Days. At the January 24th Los Angeles Board of Supervisors meeting, the Board extended the Countywide eviction moratorium, which applies to the incorporated cities and unincorporated areas, and the County’s rent increase freeze, which applies only to rent stabilized rental units in the County’s unincorporated areas, through March 31, 2023. The Board also extended the prohibition on evictions for unauthorized occupants and pets whose presence was necessitated by or related to the COVID-19 emergency through January 31, 2024, after which the rental housing provider would be required to provide renters with a 30-day notice to “cure or quit”. In addition, the motion called for a report in 30 days on developing a Rent Relief program with an initial allocation of $45 million.
Los Angeles County Supervisors Solis and Horvath Seek to Use the Homelessness Emergency to Continue the Eviction Moratorium Indefinitely. At the February 7th Board of Supervisors meeting, Supervisor Solis proposed an amendment to the Homelessness Emergency Ordinance that Supervisor Horvath seconded requesting that legal staff return with instructions on how to the County could utilize this new emergency to continue the existing Eviction Moratorium indefinitely throughout Los Angeles County. This amendment was not on the agenda and was a surprise to many of the Supervisors as well as meeting attendees. However, pre-prepared remarks were made by several renter advocates in support of the amendment at the meeting. Supervisors Barger, Hahn and Mitchell pushed back on the idea of extending the Eviction Moratorium any further, since it had already been extended for an additional two months to March 31, 2023, after the initial deadline of January 31, 2023. However, as a professional courtesy, the report was allowed to go forward and is due back within 45 days. The Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles has already issued a Red Alert to all members in Los Angeles County requesting that they call or email both Supervisors Solis and Horvath telling them that no further extension of the moratorium is warranted as the COVID-19 emergency has ended and that rental housing owners must be allowed to resume normal business operations. AAGLA will continue to monitor the situation and keep our members informed of any further actions that are needed to dissuade Supervisors Solis and Horvath from taking any additional steps on the report once it has been provided.
Beverly Hills Maintains Emergency Restrictions on Evictions and Rent Increases. At the February 7th Beverly Hills City Council meeting, the Council voted unanimously to adopt an urgency ordinance upholding the City’s local eviction moratorium and rent increase freeze, and allowing for a maximum rent increase of up to 3.10% during the period of June 1, 2022 through June 30, 2023, regardless of when the City ends its local emergency. This increase is only available to those owners that did not otherwise institute such an increase all the way back to July 1, 2019. Additionally, effective June 1, 2022, the one-year deferred rent repayment period will commence, and the City’s renters will be required to repay any past due, COVID-19 related rent in full by May 31, 2023.
Burbank City Council Considers Rent Stabilization and Tenant Protections with Relocation Fees Ordinances. At the January 31st Burbank City Council meeting, the Council voted 4-1 to have the staff report back with information on rent stabilization, rent control and similar ordinances as well as tenant protections/owner restrictions with relocation fees ordinances that existing in the cities of Los Angeles, Culver City and Glendale. In Glendale, instead of rent stabilization, they have a Right to Lease that requires relocation fees and moving costs to be paid to renters if rent increases are greater than 7%. AAGLA is conducting outreach to our existing Burbank members and will be holding one-on-one meetings with City Council members to help educate them on Glendale’s ordinance as well as City subsidies that could be created to assist low-income renters.
Cudahy City Council Adopts 90-Day Extension to the City’s Rent Increase Ban. At the January 17th Cudahy City Council meeting, the Council extended the rent increase freeze for an additional 90 days until April 17, 2023. The ordinance was adopted as an urgency ordinance and went into effect immediately. The rent increase freeze applies to existing residential renters whose tenancies started before or on January 17, 2023. A Rent Control Ad Hoc Subcommittee is preparing recommendations to bring back to the City Council regarding rent stabilization modeled on Bell Gardens’ and Santa Monica’s existing ordinances. AAGLA will engage with the City Council members one-on-one and continue to update our members as this issue continues to evolve.
Maywood City Council Adopts Urgency Ordinance Prohibiting All Rent Increases for 60 Days. At the February 6th Maywood City Council meeting, the Council voted unanimously to institute an immediate rent increase freeze for all rental housing that will initially last for 60 days with the ability to be extended further. The Council has requested the staff to draft a rent stabilization ordinance to be presented prior to the expiration of this initial rent increase freeze. The staff report provided no data or other factual evidence suggesting that rental rates in Maywood had suddenly changed significantly to justify this urgency ordinance. Instead, it appears that the decision to bring forward this proposal as an urgency ordinance was merely an attempt to stifle opposition and severely limit public input. Council Members Heber Marquez and Eddie De La Riva made only general remarks against rental housing providers without any specific facts or data to support them during the meeting. AAGLA will conduct in-person one-on-one meetings with City Council members to determine what is creating the sudden interest in these ordinances and offer alternatives, such as City subsidies, that will help renters without severely damaging rental housing owners. AAGLA will keep our members informed as this issue is further discussed.
Ojai to Discuss Rent Control. At the January 24th Ojai City Council meeting, the Council voted 4-0 with 1 abstention instructing staff to return with a draft rent stabilization ordinance and a draft tenant protections/owner restrictions ordinance with relocation fees modeled on Bell Gardens’ and Oxnard’s existing ordinances. Mayor Stix spoke out strongly in favor of these new draft ordinance, but provided no details as to why they are needed in Ojai at this time. The staff report also lacks any data supporting the need for these ordinances or its urgency. Further, there is no data as to why Bell Gardens would be an appropriate comparable model, since the median area income, rental increase percentages, number of renters and other relevant data points are extremely dissimilar to Ojai. However, Mayor Stix was insistent that such draft ordinances be brought back to the next Council meeting on February 28th.
Our Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles government advocacy team will engage with the Council Members in-person, one-on-one and is contacting our existing Ojai members to join us for such meetings. We are encouraging Ojai’s City Council to take a more measured approach by creating a renter/owner mediation program similar to the one that has been extremely successful in Santa Barbara for many years. In addition, The Association has reached out to the two local Association of Realtors for added support. We will continue to fight back aggressively against these two draft ordinances and will keep our members fully informed.
Pasadena Begins Implementation of Rent Control Ordinance. During the November 2022 General Election, a rent control ballot measure, “Measure H,” was approved by a majority of voters. The related rent control ordinance went into effect on December 22, 2022. The ordinance requires the establishment of a Rental Housing Board (RHB), an eleven (11) member board, to be comprised of seven (7) renters, four (4) at-large members and two (2) alternates. No further action has been taken by the City Council at this time.
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. For more information, go to www.aagla.org or call (213) 384-4131.