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LA Landlords Fighting to Keep Their Freedom to Evict Tenants Whenever They Want

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Travesty alert: a newly proposed state bill would make it "almost impossible" for apartment landlords to evict tenants because they want to sell their properties, says the LA Business Journal. The bill in question, AB 2045, would allow local governments to place moratoriums on the state's Ellis Act, which currently gives property owners the ability to evict a tenant any time they please—even if the tenant has done nothing wrong—provided they give the tenant four months notice and pay for relocation. (The Ellis Act also speeds the cases through the court system.) Put-upon landlords are framing this Ellis-Act-restricting bill as a potential deathblow to their sole last-resort option for making a pile of cash: "In some rent-controlled cities, the Ellis Act is the only way owners can say enough is enough when they are not able to maintain their buildings," says a rep for the California Apartment Association. Really? Because in many cities, the Ellis Act is already being used to excess to boot rent-controlled residents out and make room for condos and richer tenants. (See: West Hollywood.)

The bill was proposed by a San Francisco Representative who is seeing first-hand how the Ellis Act can run amok; last year, the booming Bay Area housing market saw more than 300 rental properties disappeared from the rental market, leaving "thousands of tenants" faced with eviction simply because the property owner wanted to make more money. Think that can't happen here? The director of a Los Angeles tenants rights organization warned that an Ellis-Act-in-LA shitstorm is imminent, and that last year more than 1,000 rent-controlled units were taken off the market. (Perspective: LA has an estimated 634,000 pre-1978 rent-controlled units; WeHo's got about 15,000.)

Landlord groups and apartment owner associations fighting this bill don't want to let the battle show up on LA ballots because they are sure that in LA—where more than half of the residents rent—it would totally pass. "We don't want it to get to the council level, we don't want to take the chance given the politics here. There are a lot of renters who vote," said a former Apartment Associate president involved in opposing the bill. Previous bills to restrict the Ellis Act have failed, but maybe the high percentage of renters will lead to a different outcome this time.
· Landlords Want to Toss Eviction Bill [LABJ]