Answers To Frequently Asked Questions About Eviction Regulations, Rent Freeze, and Related Issues for Angeleno Tenants and Landlords During the Coronavirus/COVID-19 Pandemic
I'VE HEARD COUNCILMEMBER KORETZ IS ONE OF A NUMBER OF CITY COUNCILMEMBERS WHO ARE LANDLORDS AND THAT HE VOTED AGAINST EVICTION PROTECTION. WHAT IS THE TRUTH?
Councilmember Koretz owns one modest condominium in West Hollywood. In his 12 years as a landlord he has never given a rent increase in his unit. At the same time, he is a tenant in the Beverly Grove area of Council District 5.His experience as both a sensitive landlord and as a current tenant make him especially attuned to the needs of tenants as well as the complex relationship between tenants and landlords not only during the COVID-19 crisis, but in normal times as well.
Councilmember Koretz voted FOR eviction protections and authored several amendments to strengthen the Council’s and the City’s actions to keep tenants from being forced out of their apartments and onto the street.
Here are the most frequently asked questions related to the City Council and the Mayor's actions affecting Angeleno tenants and landlords during the COVID-19 pandemic.
WHAT HAS BEEN APPROVED BY THE CITY COUNCIL AS OF THURSDAY, APRIL 2, 2020?
Renters who are impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic can stay in their homes due to an eviction protection ordinance!
The emergency citywide ordinance that was unanimously approved on Friday, March 27, 2020, protects tenants of both residential and commercial properties from eviction due to financial impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Councilmember Koretz and his colleagues expanded upon an earlier directive issued by Mayor Garcetti and voted unanimously to waive late fees, prohibit evictions for additional tenants, guests and pets, and extend the payback period to 12 months for residential units (three months for commercial). The ordinance pertains to all Angelenos. Subsequently, the Mayor also announced a freeze on rent increases in all Rent Stabilized Units effective March 30th.
DID COUNCILMEMBER KORETZ VOTE AGAINST AN EVICTION PROTECTION ORDINANCE?
No, Councilmember Koretz DID NOT vote against a citywide eviction protection ordinance, He voted to approve an amendment to the ordinance creating an eviction protections for residential and commercial properties affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Councilmember Koretz also successfully proposed amendments that go BEYOND the Mayor’s original eviction regulation to:
? Waive late fees and interest penalties Prohibit evictions for additional tenants, guests and pets
? Included the specific opportunity for tenants and landlords to negotiate a rent repayment plan that could exceed the otherwise-specified time limit
? Prohibited "no cause" evictions for virus-related reasons altogether during the time of the Local Emergency
BUT I HEARD THE CITY COUNCIL TURNED DOWN STRONGER EVICTION PROTECTION AMENDMENTS. IS THIS TRUE?
After Councilmember Koretz proposed a ban on any new court filings of evictions during the Local Emergency but before it was voted upon, Councilmember Mike Bonin proposed a broader amendment to the COVID-19-related eviction protection ordinance in the form of a blanket ban on all evictions. The City Attorney argued that such a blanket action would go beyond what Governor Newsom’s Emergency Declaration allowed cities and counties to do.Councilmember Koretz and six of his colleagues disagreed and voted for the Bonin amendment, but it required a majority vote of eight and thus failed.
I HEARD THAT COUNCILMEMBER KORETZ DID NOT VOTE FOR A RENT FREEZE.
IS THIS TRUE?
There has been no vote taken to enact a rent freeze.
There was a proposal introduced to hold an immediate vote to request the City Attorney to draft an ordinance to freeze rent increases. For a vote on a new proposal, legal findings must first be established in order for the City Council to act.This was not possible with such short notice, per the City Attorney.
Subsequently on March 30th, Mayor Garcetti issued a mayoral directive freezing rents in Rent Stabilized (rent-controlled) apartment units for the duration of the Local Emergency plus 60 days.
WHAT IF THE CITY’S RENT ACTIONS CAUSE LANDLORDS DIFFICULTY IN PAYING THEIR MORTGAGES?
Councilmember Koretz is supportive of the concept of helping landlords to avoid defaulting on their mortgages as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. However, the City is limited in what it can do to protect landlords under the circumstances.
The Mayor, Councilmember Koretz and others are working with the Housing and Community Investment Department (HCID) to develop an emergency rent subsidy program that could assist building owners who are in jeopardy of defaulting to avoid doing so.A default could lead to foreclosure, with buildings falling into the hands of large corporate owners who historically have been less sensitive to tenant concerns. When such a program is ready to launch, the City will make sure the public hears about it.
Additionally, mortgage payment delays are being discussed by both the State of California and the federal government, and help may be made available in the near future."Mom and pop" landlords may be eligible for help from small business provisions of the recently-approved CARES Act. Owners should consult with the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Federal National Mortgage Association and/or the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation for more information on mortgage issues.
Greg Martayan on my staff is available to walk business owners through the process. He can be reached at 213-505-8420.If you have any further questions about my tenant protection legislation, please contact James.Bickhart@lacity.org or 213-473-7005.
Also the Housing + Community Investment Department offers a special hotline that is available at 1-866-557-7368 M-F 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday/Sunday 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Also, to protect commercial property owners, Council prohibited large, multi-national, and/or publicly traded corporations from being able to defer rent payments in commercial properties. Companies that can still afford to pay their rent, should pay. Councilmember Koretz also strongly encouraging residential tenants who haven’t lost their jobs or their financial means to keep paying their rent! This could be the difference between keeping your landlord out of foreclosure.
WHAT ELSE IS COUNCILMEMBER KORETZ DOING TO PROTECT RENTERS?
Councilmember Koretz is the Council's author of the forthcoming Eviction Defense program, which is being developed in concert with HCID and Mayor Garcetti's office.This comprehensive program, the idea for which predates the COVID-19 pandemic by more than 18 months, will provide multiple means for tenants and landlords to resolve the kinds of disputes that often lead to evictions, provide short-term rent subsidies and wrap-around services for at-risk tenants, and offer legal consultation and services to tenants in certain high-risk neighborhoods as needed.The program is expected to launch later in 2020.
Councilmember Koretz is committed to doing more. COVID-19 protections for all Angelenos will be an ongoing conversation for the Council, as we learn more about the economic impacts of the pandemic in the City of Los Angeles. Councilmember Koretz introduced a motion in early March calling for an ongoing analysis of the multiple financial impacts the emergency is likely to impose on the City's budget and how they can be managed to minimize the damage to City services. He sits on the City Council's Budget and Finance Committee which will begin discussions of the Fiscal Year 2020-21 City Budget in the near future.
State and Federal unemployment benefits. Under recent Congressional actions, employees and laid-off employees, freelancers and struggling independent workers can continue receiving income during the pandemic. The Federal relief package recently signed into law provides expanded unemployment benefits, combined with the state, up to 100% of a worker’s current weekly pay through the end of July. Loan and grant programs to small- and medium-sized businesses can be obtained to allow them to keep employees on the payroll for up to eight weeks, thus helping both the businesses and employees alike to avoid at least some of the economic devastation this emergency could otherwise cause. Please visit edd.ca.gov for information on how to file an unemployment claim.
WHAT IS OR ISN’T ALLOWED UNDER THE CITY’S COVID-19-RELATED EVICTION REGULATIONS?
HCID has put together a list of frequently asked questions regarding the COVID-19 regulations regarding evictions, rents and rent repayment. Please refer to the HCID website for more information.
Here to Serve
My office, like all City of Los Angeles offices, is following recommended protocols such as social distancing and working remotely to slow the spread of the coronavirus. That said, my staff and I are always readily available to help with your questions, concerns, and needs during this difficult period. We can be reached by phone at 213-473-7005, 323-866-1828 (West LA), or 818-971-3088 (Encino) and through email firstname.lastname@example.org. Since we are experiencing a higher-than-normal volume of calls, feel free to email the staff member you wish to contact directly. The accompanying link contains those e-mail addresses.
I know these are really confusing times and that new information is changing quickly, so please continue to check and verify official information through these credible resources:
Councilmember Paul Koretz, Fifth District