During the worst months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the city enacted several rounds of COVID-related rent deferrals, eviction protections, and other temporary measures to help people suffering financial hardships due to the pandemic stay in their homes until economic conditions improved. Over the last several months, though, as many kinds of COVID emergency rules have expired, many of the temporary tenant protections have been expiring, too…which means deferred rents are coming due, eviction rules are changing, and rent increase moratoriums will also start expiring soon.
For example, just this week, on August 1, rents owed from the period between March 2020 and September 2021 came due to landlords…and rents owed from October, 2021 to January, 2023 will be due on February 1, 2024.
But many tenants, even those who have been back at work for a long while, may still not have the resources to pay those additional amounts, and landlords may not be able to hang on without them. So people on both sides of the equation are currently very much in need of good, clear information about who owes what to whom, and when, and what the new rules are or soon will be regarding rent increases and evictions.
Thankfully, however, there are some very helpful resources out there – for both landlords and tenants.
A Letter from the Mayor
One recent example of the city’s information efforts was a letter from LA Mayor Karen Bass sent to residents on July 28, providing an overview of important dates and a list of resources and current renter protections.
In part, the letter advised tenants who receive an eviction notice to:
- Read their paperwork carefully and file an answer within 5 days
- Reach out to the LA Housing Department.
- Reach out to StayHoused LA.
- Reach out to your local City Council Office.
And Bass said tenants who experience harassment from their landlords (including refusal to complete required repairs, threatening physical harm, asking about immigration status, and more) can reach out to:
- The LA Housing Department.
- A legal assistance group like Coalition for Economic Survival.
- Your local City Council office
Bass’ letter also noted that “annual rent increases are prohibited through January 31, 2024 for rental units subject to the City’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO),” and advised that “If you receive an illegal rent increase, please report it to the Los Angeles Housing Department. If you believe you have received a rent increase in violation of the rules, please file a complaint by calling (866) 557-7368. A rent increase calculator for the current year is available here.”
Finally, regarding eviction protections, Bass explained that the city has approved a “minimum threshold for evictable rent debt, which means tenants who owe less than one month of back rent (as set by the HUD Fair Market Rent for) cannot be evicted on the basis of late rent.” Also, she said, “ALL residential rental units in the City of Los Angeles now officially have “just cause” protections, meaning a landlord cannot evict a tenant without declaring a legal reason for eviction.”
The full text of Bass’ letter on renter protections and the evolving rent and eviction rules, which contains even more information and resources, can be found here.
Housing Department Information and Assistance
In addition to the Mayor’s letter, the Los Angeles Housing Department is also doing its best to help both renters and landlords navigate the current changes.
First, in-person assistance is now at the department’s public counters – see this link for locations and appointment times, or call (866) 557-RENT .
At the same time, LAHD is also offering monthly workshops for both landlords and tenants, which can be attended either online or in person. And while specific workshops are aimed primarily at either landlords or renters, both groups are welcome at all sessions. For example, we attended the Department’s July workshop, which was officially aimed at renters but attracted a significant proportion of landlords among the 440 attendees…making it clear that there’s a huge hunger for information among both groups. The meeting agenda covered the city’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance, COVID-era renter protections, information and timelines for expirations of those protections, newly enacted renter protections, the City of Los Angeles Just Cause Ordinance, how to contact city housing officials, and much more, including a lengthy question and answer session during which both tenants and landlords were able to speak up to request clarifications and further information.
Finally, in addition to the Housing Department workshops, StayHousedLA is also hosting a full slate of free workshops on tenant rights, eviction protections, and more.
And Bass said in her July 28 letter that she also hopes to use Measure ULA dollars to fund rental assistance programs to support Angelenos who will still have trouble making up their back rent by the current and coming deadlines. The proposal, which is aimed at preventing these at-risk tenants from falling into homelessness, passed the LA City Council’s Housing and Homelessness Committee on Tuesday, and will now move to the full city council for final approval.