DISTRICT 4 Press Releases
Councilmember Nithya Raman Statement on Eviction Moratorium
For Immediate Release: November 10, 2022
LOS ANGELES – Yesterday, Councilmember Nithya Raman chaired the Los Angeles City Council’s Housing Committee and issued the following statement:
In yesterday’s Housing Committee, we considered items related to the end of the City’s moratorium on evictions for nonpayment of rent due to COVID-related financial impacts, along with critical, permanent new protections for tenants in the city going forward.
There is no question that the end of LA’s moratorium will have real and harmful impacts for tenant households across the city – while tenants would have a year to pay back rent debt accumulated during the moratorium, households unable to make new rent payments after the moratorium ends would be vulnerable to eviction. It must be our goal to navigate this transition with the explicit purpose of keeping as many tenants housed as possible.
If the Council fails to act, the moratorium will likely be lifted without any new tenant protections in place – either through the Mayor ending the COVID state of emergency, which would immediately end the moratorium, or via court action, which has impacted eviction protections in other jurisdictions. That is why it is essential that the Council put permanent tenant protections in place before any action to end the moratorium – with the goal of limiting the number of evictions that could take place in the immediate term and keeping more tenants housed in the future.
In October, the Council voted to end the moratorium with the following additional instructions: to draft ordinances to universally expand Just Cause eviction protections to all tenants in the city, which would include an estimated additional 380,000 units of rental housing, and to ask for a report from LAHD on two additional protections: relocation assistance for tenants who see their rent increase by over 10%, and ongoing protection from eviction for tenants who aren’t able to pay one month’s rent.
Universal Just Cause protections, in particular, would represent the largest expansion of tenant rights in Los Angeles in several decades. As of now, approximately one-third of tenants in LA don’t have Just Cause protections, and can therefore have their lease terminated without cause at any time. These new protections will help keep people housed – and with the likely passing of Measure ULA on Tuesday’s ballot, the City of LA will now have resources to provide stronger enforcement and right to counsel for all tenants facing eviction.
After these items first passed through Council last month, the drafting process produced a Just Cause ordinance with some important differences from what was requested by the Council. The most consequential difference was a limitation that tenants with less than one year of occupancy in their unit would not be protected. This would have left a significant number of tenants more vulnerable to eviction – and could even have incentivized landlords to evict their tenants before they establish a year of occupancy. In addition, the LAHD recommended asking the City Attorney to draft ordinances for the two new protections.
Our focus yesterday in Housing Committee was to iron out issues like these to ensure the full package that goes to the Council floor reflects the instructions that were passed last month and to ensure that these protections are in place before the end of the eviction moratorium – with the goal of assembling a complete tenant protection package in committee for the full Council’s final approval.
We requested the City Attorney’s Office to submit revised drafts of the Just Cause ordinance to the Committee in order to reflect the Council’s instructions more closely and protect more tenants. The Housing Department’s report recommending the two additional protections, establishing both a permanent threshold for eviction for nonpayment of rent and relocation assistance for non-RSO tenants who receive rent increases of over 10%, will move to full Council without a recommendation from the Committee. That report will now be able to be acted upon before the Council considers the ordinances related to lifting the eviction moratorium. I urge everyone to contact their Councilmembers and ask that they support the Housing Department’s recommendations so that they can be put in place before any moratorium protections are lifted.
The success of pandemic related tenant protections should hold lessons for how we shape the landscape for renters in our city going forward. I have faith that there is widespread agreement on the Council and across the City that this transition out of the era of COVID protections presents an opportunity to implement new protections that will help us build a better LA for all residents – and that action from the City Council is required to achieve that goal.