Good News for Residential Landlords in Los Angeles
The start of the pandemic resulted in eviction protections being enacted in many cities and counties throughout the State of California. Although a tenant has always remained obligated to pay the past due rent, the moratoriums prevented landlords from taking legal action to evict a tenant if a tenant did not pay rent, subject to certain criteria that varied from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Many of those protections have long lapsed. However, certain tenant protections have remained in place in Los Angeles but will be lifted in the coming months.
Los Angeles County
The Los Angeles County moratorium has applied to unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County and to any incorporated city that did not have stronger local protections. The “protections period” for residential tenants, which was previously referred to as the “moratorium period,” had been extended through the end of the year, but since July 1, 2022 has only applied to the nonpayment of rent due to Covid-19 reasons for households with income at or below 80% Area Median Income established by the California Department of Housing and Community Development due to financial hardship. Similarly, although the protections against eviction for commercial tenants who failed to pay rent was lifted early this year, landlords remain unable to pursue personal guarantors for small commercials tenants with less than 10 employees through the end of the year, and those same small commercial tenants have until early next year to repay rent that accrued before February 1, 2022.
On multiple occasions over the past two years, as the expiration date approached, the County has repeatedly voted to extend the protections. On September 13, 2022, however, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to implement a strategy to phase out the Covid-19 related residential eviction protections with a defined end date of December 31, 2022. At the same meeting, however, the Board of Supervisors discussed possibly adopting certain permanent protections that will be analyzed in the coming months. What those protections will be remains to be seen, but proposals mentioned rent caps, rental assistance to smaller landlords if they do not evict a tenant for a period of time or monetary thresholds that must be met before a landlord could pursue an eviction.
City of Los Angeles
Despite the County’s decision, questions remained over the past several weeks as to what would happen in the City of Los Angeles, where certain eviction protections remain in place. That question was answered earlier this week. On Tuesday, October 4, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously voted to lift the residential eviction moratorium against tenants who fail to meet their rent obligations for Covid-19 reasons beginning February 1, 2023. Although tenants in the City of Los Angeles will no longer be protected from eviction for rent that becomes due after February 1, 2023, tenants will have until August 1, 2023 to pay any unpaid rent that accrued between March 1, 2020 and September 30, 2021, and until December 31, 2023 to pay any unpaid rent that accrues between October 1, 2021 and December 31, 2022. Additionally, Landlords still will be unable to raise rent on rent controlled apartments or for evicting a tenant subject to a violation for unauthorized pets or additional residents in the unit until February 2024.
We will send out a follow-up alert as additional developments unfold. For now, however, landlords have clarity about when the Covid-19 related eviction moratoriums in Los Angeles will end.