LOS ANGELES — The city's expanded renter protection ordinances are facing new legal challenges.
The Los Angeles City Council passed a new set of renter protection ordinances earlier this year to expand what was supposed to be temporary COVID-pandemic eviction protections for renters in the city. More than 70% of LA residents are renters, and half of them are rent-burdened, city officials said.
However, the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles, which challenged the city and county’s pro-renter ordinances during the pandemic, has filed another lawsuit to overturn the city’s newest tenant protection measures.
Under the city’s ordinances, a landlord cannot evict a tenant unless the amount due exceeds one month of fair market rent for a similar size unit in the Los Angeles metro area set by the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development. Under that guideline, market rent is $1,747 for a one-bedroom and $2,222 for a two-bedroom.
Tenants that fall short on rent or pay a day late cannot be evicted.
“Unscrupulous renters can merely string out legally owed rent payments for months or even years in some cases by short-paying rent in increments of $50, $100 or more per month, and rental property owners will be left holding the bag with little or no recourse whatsoever,” said Dan Yukelson, the executive director of AAGLA. “To make matters worse, once any portion of unpaid rent is past due more than 12 months, there are very few remedies under state law to collect the aged, accumulated rental debt.”
Another ordinance the association is asking the courts to overturn requires a landlord to pay relocation assistance to a tenant.
Landlords who increase rent above the consumer price index plus 5% or 10% within 12 months will have to provide relocation assistance to tenants who decide to give up the unit.
“Subject to an exception for certain single-family residences, the relocation assistance amount is to be three times the fair market rent for a rental unit of a similar size as established by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development plus $1,411 in moving costs,” according to a blog post from law firm Cox Castle & Nicholson.
“[The] city’s new ordinance No. 1877764 potentially imposes severe financial penalties on any owner that increases rent above specified limits on a rental unit that is exempt from rent control, should the renter then decide to relocate,” said Cheryl Turner, president of the AAGLA Board of Directors.
The lawsuit is the latest from AAGLA.
Since the start of the pandemic in 2020, the apartment association, one of the oldest in Los Angeles, has filed a lawsuit against the city, challenging the constitutionality of the city’s eviction moratoriums and rent increases. Last year, AAGLA and the Apartment Owners Association of California filed a joint lawsuit against Los Angeles County seeking, among other relief, an injunction against the enforcement of the county’s residential eviction moratorium. A court granted a preliminary injunction, officials said.
Both of these matters are still pending, AAGLA officials said.
The city council attorney did not return a Spectrum News message asking for comment on the lawsuit.