LA tenants fearful of being evicted during the Covid-19 crisis have the law on their side and may soon be able to sue unethical landlords. The city has its fair share of honorable landlords, working to support the community during these challenging times. As for the dubious ones, council president Nury Martinez clearly summed it up when she stated, “the city of Los Angeles is putting you on notice”.
Protecting the rights of LA Renters
While activists have been pushing for a blanket ban for all evictions until the crisis is resolved, a recent law passed by the city council protects the rights of renters affected by the virus. Landlords who violate the new law could incur a penalty of $10,000 per violation, rising up to $15,000 if the renter was a senior or is disabled. With this, the council hopes to reduce cases of landlords illegally evicting tenants during this global pandemic.
Renters in LA are also supported by government sponsored stimulus and relief packages. This is vital to low-income households, struggling to see through the crisis. But despite favorable laws, UCLA studies indicate that renters are often unaware of their rights, due to challenges with the English language or internet unavailability.
This is where dubious landlords could take advantage of their vulnerability, and force them to accept unfavorable terms in order to avoid eviction during the crisis. Some landlords have even been known to pressure renters into handing over their stimulus checks to avoid eviction.
Justice to all Parties
The new law, unanimously approved 13 to 0, has been welcomed by renters and tenant activists alike. But as can be expected, it has received some resistance from landlords. In fact, a member of the city council shared that many landlords reached out to the council prior to the vote, hoping to influence the outcome with their viewpoint. As one landlord shared under anonymity, they felt that “our plight has been overlooked by this council,” as they were not large corporations but “individuals and small businesses”.
Landlords provided examples of tenants who had struggled to meet monthly payments, and stopped paying rent even before the crisis. Another housing association member worried that the new law could switch financial hardships to the other side, to the landlord, with the potential to “impose excessive penalties” in favor of renters. To address their concerns, the council included an amendment championed by councilman John Lee, giving landlords a time period of 15 days to fix any violations before being taken to court.
The council has also voted to stop all rent increases for a period of one year after the current emergency, for rental units covered under the Rent Stabilization Ordinance. While LA Mayor Eric Garcetti had earlier supported this through an order, the measure only lasted 2 months after the end of the emergency. There was no consensus for rental units that were not covered by the Rent Stabilization Ordinance.
Consult with a Competent California Attorney
If you believe that your landlord has unfairly evicted you or violated another law during the current coronavirus pandemic situation, the dedicated attorneys at Makarem & Associates will help you pursue a legal claim. Call us at 310-312-0299 to make an appointment, or email at [email protected].