Eviction ban, rent freeze, and rent & mortgage forgiveness among legislation proposed to City Council
LOS ANGELES (April 7, 2020) – In an expansive series of legislative efforts seeking relief for renters, homeowners, and commercial property owners during the COVID-19 pandemic, City Councilmembers Mike Bonin and David Ryu today co-introduced five pieces of legislation calling for an eviction moratorium, rent freeze in Los Angeles, as well as for state and federal action on rent and mortgage forgiveness.
“People should not be punished for doing their part and staying home in the best interest of public health. We need to eliminate confusion and make very clear – no one in Los Angeles can be kicked out of their home while this crisis continues,” said Bonin. “You can’t stay home if you don’t have a home. We are already seeing examples of some landlords abusing existing protections and these measures will prevent abuse and help keep people in their homes.”
“We are in an economic crisis unlike anything we’ve ever seen, and our government is not meeting the severity of this moment with the strength required,” Councilmember Ryu said. “People have been forced out of work, they’re scared and they’re running out of money. If we want to avoid widespread default, an explosion of homelessness, and millions of people trapped under mountains of debt, we need rent and mortgage forgiveness now.”
Legislation proposed by the Councilmembers at Tuesday’s meeting include:
Eviction Moratorium – Landlords have reportedly begun serving three-day notices to tenants and can continue to despite a recent ruling by the California Judicial Court (CJC). While the eviction process was paused by the CJC, it continues to be initiated, and tenants are receiving threatening letters and strong-arm offers for bad deals or new lease terms. A clear eviction moratorium would protect tenants by stopping the eviction process from starting while the crisis lasts. Read the motion here.
Responsible Banking Ordinance – Bonin and Ryu proposed an effort to amend the City’s Responsible Banking Ordinance to encourage banks that do business with the City to disclose their plans to provide mortgage and rent relief, and prioritize those banks which help Los Angeles renters and working families when deciding on future contracts. Read the motion here.
Classifying Rent Debt as Consumer Debt – In an effort aimed at helping renters reasonably repay any debt they accrue during the crisis, Bonin and Ryu are recommending that the City pursue converting unpaid rent incurred during the COVID-19 emergency into consumer debt, which can be collected as any other debt, but not through the unlawful detainer process. This will encourage landlords to work with tenants to repay the debt in a reasonable time frame without resorting to unlawful detainer orders that cause more Angelenos to lose their homes. The City of Oakland has passed such an ordinance, and it could help protect renters in Los Angeles. Read the motion here.
Rent Freeze – In a second attempt at a measure proposed by Councilmember Ryu at the last City Council meeting, Bonin and Ryu are proposing that the city not allow rent increases on any units during the crisis, limiting the amount of debt renters could accrue during the crisis. Read the motion here.
Rent and Mortgage Forgiveness – A resolution co-authored by the Councilmembers calls on the state and federal governments to create state and federal programs to forgive rent and mortgage debts created during the crisis. Read the resolution here.
Councilmembers Bonin and Ryu have previously partnered on renter protection efforts, such as Ellis Act reform, and last week, they joined a national effort with leaders from nine U.S. cities calling for nationwide rent and mortgage relief.
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