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Council committee wants evicted tenants to get their fair share

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It's endorsing a program to help tenants in rent-controlled units

The city council’s housing committee voted today to create a program that would help ensure rent-controlled tenants are aware of their rights when they’re offered money in exchange for relocating, the Los Angeles Daily News reports.

When landlords want to empty their rent-controlled units, they’re required to file paperwork with the city’s Housing and Community Investment Department and compensate their tenants (from $7,900-$19,700) and give them time to relocate.

Many landlords follow the rules, but especially in Los Angeles’s tight housing market, so-called "cash for keys" schemes are not unheard of: Some landlords simply offer their tenants a random sum of money to leave, circumventing the rules around no-fault evictions. And, often tenants, thinking they have no other choice, just take the money, which is likely far less than what they should legally be getting. Lots of these cash-for-keys exchanges, "are targeted at immigrants and non-English speakers," say tenants rights’ advocates.

In Los Angeles, about 75 percent of all of rentals are rent-controlled, according to the Daily News.

The proposed Tenant Buyout Notification Program would require the following, according to a May 2016 report about the program from the City Administrative Officer:

... the proposed RSO provisions would require landlords to provide tenants with a statement of their RSO rights and allow tenants to rescind a buyout agreement within a specified time after signing such an agreement. This would provide tenants sufficient time to consult with an attorney, tenants’ organization or the HCID staff.

It would also require that a copy of all buyout agreements be filed with the department.

Santa Monica has a similar program in place, which requires that landlords evicting tenants give their tenants a written copy of their rights.