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LA considers making it harder for landlords to evict tenants from newer buildings

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City leaders are moving toward protecting tenants who don’t live in rent-controlled units

View of newer apartment building
Under current law, tenants in newer buildings have less protection from eviction than those who live in older, rent-stabilized structures.

In Los Angeles, a city with one of the lowest rates of homeownership in the nation, landlords may soon have a harder time evicting renters from newer buildings.

Under the city’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance, building owners must have “just cause” for evicting a tenant and be able to prove that the renter is at-fault. But that ordinance primarily applies to properties built prior to October 1, 1978. Most residents of buildings constructed later than that date don’t enjoy the same protections—at least not yet.

The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday asked the city’s Housing and Community Investment Department to recommend policy changes that would require owners of newer buildings to show just cause when evicting tenants.

Under the Rent Stabilization Ordinance, reasons for eviction include violations of lease terms, disruption of other tenants, damage to the unit, and, of course, nonpayment of rent.

At a meeting of the council’s Housing Committee on June 21, several property owners argued that, while these reasons for eviction may be reasonable, the burden of proof for landlords would be too high—and that the legislation would endanger other residents by allowing disruptive tenants to remain in the building.

Committee members largely dismissed these concerns, with Councilmember Gil Cedillo, who proposed the motion, pointing out that the city effectively has two separate standards for evictions.

The item was one of several housing-related items that the full council considered Wednesday. It also asked city staff for recommendations on legislation that would protect affordable housing covenants set to expire within the next five years and accelerate housing development by increasing the scale of projects that would be subject to a time-consuming site-plan review.

The council is also working on keeping better track of LA’s affordable housing supply, with efforts underway to create a public database monitors both the creation and loss of affordable units throughout the city.