California’s eviction moratorium is set to end Thursday, but Los Angeles County’s own version of the ban will remain in place through the end of January—with one big exception.
The county’s Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to extend most of its protections for renters, which were also set to expire Thursday. But state law now prohibits cities from barring residential evictions due to nonpayment, meaning LA County renters who haven’t been paying their rent can be evicted starting Friday.
The county’s ban will continue to protect residential tenants from being kicked out due to unauthorized people or pets, or from nuisance evictions. It will also continue to protect commercial renters from being evicted due to nonpayment because the state law did not address commercial tenancies.
Supervisors said during Tuesday’s meeting that the ongoing state of the COVID-19 pandemic makes it clear that protections are still necessary to prevent mass evictions—but it’s important to balance the burdens that have been placed on tenants and landlords over the past year and a half.
“I think we’re all trying to walk this balance beam on this issue, and there’s no question this pandemic has devastated this county, this country, this world,” Supervisor Janice Hahn said. “It’s devastated both renters and it’s devastated many landlords, and we’ve done our best so far to try to help both.”
Hahn supported the extension but also said she understood the plight of landlords who have not been paid throughout the pandemic.
“There are two sides to every equation, and it does feel sometimes like our landlords have borne the brunt of the burden for our continued extension of this eviction moratorium,” she said, “and I’m concerned that continuing to do this will continue to hurt them.”
Landlords, for their part, said during Tuesday’s meeting they opposed extending the ban.
Anthony Peters, who identified himself as a property owner, said his tenant has a full-time job but has refused to pay rent throughout the pandemic.
“For over a year and half, they have not been paying rent,” he said, “and yet I’m having to fund their ability to live in my property. I’m at a point where I’m risking losing my home.”
Advocates for renters, though, said the moratorium is still necessary.
“We know that tenant protections are crucial to prevent a devastating wave of evictions that are currently on our horizon,” said Zeke Sandoval, public policy manager for People Assisting The Homeless (PATH). “We need more time.”
The supervisors seemed to agree, though the extension of the ban also allows some new exceptions for owners to move into their properties.
Supervisor Kathryn Barger was the only member of the board to abstain from the item; all of her colleagues voted in favor it. She said it’s important for LA County’s policies to mirror the current economic and public-health metrics.
With the “state moratorium set to expire in a few days, we should ask if the county should lift ours, as well,” Barger said. “I believe we should have a plan in place that will allow us to move away from the moratorium and get back into allowing landlords to collect from people renting their spaces.”
To reflect that, Barger introduced an item—which her colleagues supported—asking for county staff to report back in 30 days with current data on unemployment, rent relief requests and funding and other indicators of the region’s economy. The item also asked county staff to report back in 90 days with a plan to phase out the eviction moratorium based on that data.
“If we are going to move away from the moratorium,” Barger said, “we should have a roadmap moving forward that’s going to benefit both the tenant and also the landlord.”
In the meantime, supervisors emphasized that renters and landlords can still apply for money from the state to pay for missed rent. The state program—which currently has $541 million, according to county staff, but could soon get more from the federal government—will continue to accept applications until it runs out of funding. Under state law, renters who apply for assistance will be protected from eviction through the end of March.
For folks that are “behind on your rent, I really, really, really want to encourage you to apply for help through the state’s renter assistance program at housingiskey.com,” Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said.
“I understand renters have not been the only people to suffer financial hardship during the pandemic,” Kuehl added. “Landlords have taken a hit, and we’re eager to ramp down the protections in a way that kind of finds the balance.”