Los Angeles’ long-standing renter eviction protections due to COVID-19 hardship will be lifted at the end of January 2023, the City Council decided unanimously this week.
The council voted 12-0 to approve a package of recommendations from a council committee, following a spirited public comment session that featured both tenants advocating for continued protections and mom-and-pop landlords pleading for the restrictions to end.
Under the council action, landlords will be able to resume increasing rent on rent-controlled apartments, which account for three-quarters of the units in Los Angeles, beginning in February 2023.
Council President Nury Martinez called the vote a compromise that “preserves the livelihood of our renters while still transitioning from COVID-era protections to permanent tenant protections.”
“We cannot let this burden fall on either side, whether it’s the tenants or the mom-and-pop landlords,” Martinez said. “This policy that was put into place two years ago was intended solely to keep people housed and keep them off the streets. Now it is time that we not only keep people off the streets, but we also protect people’s housing and preserve their financial well-being.”
For the past few months, council members have grappled with those two sides. Housing groups believe ending the moratorium will place thousands of families impacted by the pandemic into limbo, while landlords claim current conditions are different from those at the onset of the pandemic and renters should no longer be able to use COVID-19 hardship as a reason to eschew paying rent.
Tenants who have missed payments since March 2020 will have to meet two re-payment deadlines. Under state law, they have until Aug. 1, 2023, to pay back missed rent between March 1, 2020, and Sept. 30, 2021. Under the city’s moratorium, tenants will have until Feb. 1, 2024, to re-pay rent accumulated from Oct. 1, 2021 to Feb. 1, 2023.
Advocates of renter protections, including the Keep LA Housed Coalition, held a rally outside City Hall ahead of theTuesday meeting. Its members argued that the moratorium has kept tens of thousands of residents in their homes and prevented mass displacement during a public health crisis.
To end the moratorium without first enacting permanent protections would be “reckless and inhumane,” according to Faizah Malik, a senior staff attorney at Public Counsel.