COVID-Era Back-Rent Now Due In Los Angeles

Tyler Durden's Photo
by Tyler Durden
Friday, Feb 02, 2024 - 06:40 PM

Authored by Rudy Blalock via The Epoch Times,

Starting Feb. 1, Los Angeles renters owe, in full, any unpaid rent between Oct. 1, 2021, and January 31, 2023, ending a pandemic-era policy.

In a statement issued Tuesday, Mayor Karen Bass assured Angelenos there are abundant resources to help renters in arrears.

“We must do all that we can to prevent people from falling into homelessness in the first place,” she said.

“Together with locked arms, we will continue our work to provide resources for the people of Los Angeles.”

According to the statement on the city’s website, for renters who may lose their rental now if they don’t pay back what’s owed, the Los Angeles Housing Department can help direct them to city resources, such as StayHoused LA—which offers free legal services—and encouraged those affected to “read their paperwork carefully” of any three-day eviction notices they receive, and file an answer within five days to avoid eviction.

Last week the Los Angeles City Council voted to continue eviction protections for those who are approved for rent relief and are awaiting funds, with the latest round—funded by the voter-approved 2022 Measure ULA, which adds a tax on home sales over $5 million to fund affordable housing and help prevent homelessness—totaling $30 million. So far only $7.9 million has been distributed, according to media reports.

Los Angeles landlords alone are owed an estimated $898 million, according to a recent analysis by Oakland-based Policy Link, a research organization, and the USC Equity Research Institute, which focuses on advancing racial and economic equity nationwide.

Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles President Daniel Yukelson told The Epoch Times now that the deadline is here for those who owe back rent there shouldn’t be more eviction filings, as most tenants who owe have either moved or are now negotiating with landlords to settle their debt.

He said a rise in evictions is also unlikely “because owners are so financially strapped today. That’s the last thing that they want to do,” noting that many small mom-and-pop landlords are already struggling to stay afloat and don’t want to take on legal fees.

Because Los Angeles tenants can get free legal aid and their attorneys can fight for them at no cost, such can drag out the process costing the landlord tens of thousands in legal fees.

“Tenants get free attorneys, and these attorneys just drag the process along. They ask for a jury trial; they ask for continuance on continuance. Any minor thing that they could think of,” he said.

According to Mr. Yukelson, an eviction in Los Angeles can cost property owners as much as $50,000 and nearly a year in time, after everything is all said and done, so evictions are a last option for them, usually.

“These are very expensive endeavors,” he said.

Instead of the city of Los Angeles funding the potential for long-dragged-out legal affairs, Mr. Yukelson said it could save money, instead, by giving tenants what they owe to keep a roof over their head.

“They’re spending hundreds of dollars an hour on these private attorneys … when all the tenants need is a couple $1,000 just to get them over the hump,” he said.

Demonstrators call for a rent strike during the COVID-19 pandemic as they pass City Hall in Los Angeles on May 1, 2020. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

According to data compiled by City Controller Kenneth Mejia, landlords sent an estimated 77,000 notices to Los Angeles renters from last February to December with 96 percent of such for overdue rent, with the average rent owed about $3,774. Hollywood had the most with over 5,000 notices followed by the Fairfax District with over 3,800.

In Los Angeles, eviction notices may only be filed for renters who owe at least one month of fair market rent, which varies by zip code ranging from around $2,000 in South Los Angeles to nearly $4,000 in the Fairfax, Melrose, Wilshire-La Brea area.

According to Mr. Mejia’s analysis, there were around 12,200 eviction notices filed where the rent owed was below one’s fair market monthly rent, which disqualifies the eviction.

Jan. 31 also marked the last day landlords with properties built before 1978 were prohibited from rent increases, a rule that has been in place since March 2020. Now landlords on those properties can increase the rent, until June 30, between 4 percent and 6 percent.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors last year capped rent increase at 3 percent on rentals in unincorporated areas, which expired at the end of the year. The rent cap has now been extended until June 30, limiting increases to 4 percent.