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Eviction Protection is Granted to Los Angeles Tenants Awaiting Assistance

On Friday, the Los Angeles City Council approved a ordinance aimed at protecting tenants from eviction while they await emergency rental assistance from the city. This decision was made just a day after the deadline for settling rent debts accrued during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The United to House L.A. Emergency Renters Assistance Program has granted approval to over 3,200 residents, offering up to six months of unpaid rent for eligible applicants. It’s noteworthy that only 25% of the $30.4 million earmarked for rental assistance has been disbursed thus far.

This implies that a considerable portion of renters assured of emergency funds are still awaiting disbursement. Additionally, thousands more are in suspense, eagerly anticipating approval for the program, which has garnered over 31,000 applications.

Eviction protection will only be extended to those who have successfully secured approval.

The funds available for the United to House L.A. program fall significantly short of meeting the demand — data from the Los Angeles Housing Department shows applicants have made claims totaling $472 million, which is nearly $454 million more than what is available. The application period ended in October.

Processing all applications will take approximately 120 days from now. According to the draft ordinance passed by the City Council on Friday, applicants who receive approval by May 31 will be safeguarded against eviction. However, renters who are still awaiting a decision on their application will remain vulnerable to eviction until they receive approval.

The ordinance specifies that eviction protection is only granted when the eviction would be solely for failing to pay rent.

Initially, the motion that led to the ordinance proposed to extend eviction protection to all applicants of the emergency fund, regardless of whether their application had been approved. However, property owner representatives expressed concerns that such a measure could result in renters indefinitely postponing rent payments without facing eviction, prompting a revision of the proposal.

The motion by the City Council that led to the ordinance was introduced on January 24 and passed on January 26. Subsequently, the ordinance was drafted and adopted by February 2. Hernandez emphasized the urgency of acting swiftly due to the looming deadline on Thursday.

Rent owed from October 1, 2021, to January 31, 2023, was due on Thursday, coinciding with the date when rent hikes were permitted for properties under the city’s rent stabilization ordinance. Residents in these rent-stabilized units were subject to rent increases up to 4%, or up to 6% if the landlord covers the cost of gas and electricity.