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LA Housing Department Wants to Clamp Down on Mass Evictions

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Evictions under the state's Ellis Act have dramatically increased in the past few years

Over half of Los Angeles's population are renters, and many of those tenants are at risk, thanks to rising Ellis Act evictions. The state law, which allows for owners of rent-controlled buildings to boot tenants to take the rental units off the market (to become condos or a hotel or so the building can be torn down), has been invoked with increasing frequency lately. Since 2013, these kinds of evictions have doubled in LA.

In response, the city's housing department is stepping up to try and make sure that these evictions, if they're done at all, are at least being done to the letter of the law, says KPCC.

For starters, the Housing + Community Investment Department's Anna Ortega says, the department would like for the city to require property owners who evict tenants using the Ellis Act to turn in yearly status reports, theoretically making it easier to make sure that they haven't violated the rules regarding such evictions. Recent cases of property owners putting the apartments on Airbnb shortly after booting rent-controlled tenants show why this requirement is necessary.

Ortega would also like the city to support efforts to amend the Ellis Act statewide so that it requires one-year notice for all tenants prior to eviction. Right now, one-year notice is only required for tenants who are disabled or elderly.

LA's recently made some changes to its own resources for renters aimed at chipping away at the issue of Ellis Act evictions. The city's zoning and planning website, ZIMAS, now lists a building's rent stabilization status and whether or not the owner has invoked the Ellis Act. (The latter might help clarify in cases where owners have threatened eviction but where proceedings for Ellis Act evictions haven't really gotten underway yet; this isn't uncommon in San Francisco, where these evictions are also on the rise again after already sweeping the city.)

About 80 percent of the approximately 880,000 multifamily units in the city are under rent control, according to the city's Housing and Community Investment Department. Last year, almost 1,100 units went off the market in LA by way of Ellis Act evictions.