COVID-19, Highlights|

To assist residential renters who have been economically impacted by the Coronavirus, the Mayor and the City Council have adopted tenant protections on evictions and rent increases in the City of Los Angeles.
COVID-19 What you need to know about L.A.'s Renter Protections

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the Coronavirus (COVID-19) as a pandemic. On March 15th, Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti issued an Emergency Order which implemented measures to protect the public and contain the risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus. Additionally, on March 23rd the Mayor issued a temporary moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent for tenants who are unable to pay rent due to circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ordinance No.186585 effective March 31, 2020, provided additional protections and effective May 12, 2020, Ordinance No. 186606, further expanded tenants protections during the local emergency in response to COVID-19. Together, these actions are designed to prevent unnecessary housing displacement and to prevent housed individuals from falling into homelessness.


Not Able to Pay Your Rent During the "Safer at Home" Emergency Order?

The City of Los Angeles has tenant protections in place to help prevent displacement of its residents that are renters. To assist tenants collaborate with their landlords, HCIDLA is providing a fact sheet and a sample notification form to assist in notifying your landlord of delays in paying your rent during this emergency order period. The COVID-19 Renter Protections Fact Sheet (Protections Notice) is required to be given to each residential tenant by the landlord per Ordinance 186606. The Protections Notice must be given to tenants by May 27, 2020. Additionally, effective May 12, 2020, a landlord must also include the Protections Notice when serving a tenant a notice to pay rent or quit, a notice to terminate a residential tenancy, a notice to perform covenant or quit, or any eviction notice served during the local emergency period and for 12 months after the expiration of the local emergency period. The Protections Notice must be in the language predominately used by the tenant.

Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO) Rent Increase Freeze

  1. No owner can evict a residential tenant for nonpayment of rent if the tenant is unable to pay rent due to circumstance related to the COVID-19, such as:
    • Loss of income due to workplace closure or reduced hours due to COVID-19
    • Loss of income or increased child care expenditures due to school closures
    • Health care expenditures stemming from COVID-19 infection of the tenant or a member of the tenant’s household who is ill with COVID-19
    • Reasonable expenditures stemming from government ordered emergency measures.
    “Tenants are still obligated to pay lawfully charged rent.” However, during the emergency period, tenants may not be evicted for failure to pay rent due to the financial impacts related to COVID-19. Tenants will have up to 12 months following the expiration of the local emergency to repay any back rent due. On March 30, 2020, the City Council extended the repayment period from 6 to 12 months.
  2. No property owner shall exercise a No-fault Eviction during the Local Emergency Period. No-Fault evictions means those not based on an alleged fault of the tenant.
  3. No property owner may withdraw an occupied residential unit from the rental housing market under the Ellis Act.
  4. A property owner must provide a copy of the Protections Notice by May 27, 2020 to all residential tenants in the City of Los Angeles. For 12 months after the expiration of the Local Emergency Period, a copy of the Protections Notice must be provided, when the property owner intends to issue an eviction notice.
  5. Landlords may not evict tenants due to the presence of unauthorized occupants, pets or nuisance related to COVID-19.
  6. Landlords may not charge interest or late fees on unpaid rent due to COVID-19.
  7. Landlords that violate Ordinance #186606, can be sued by the tenant in a civil proceeding, only after the tenant provides a written notice to the landlord of the violation and allows the landlord 15 days to comply.
Landlords are required to give written notice of the renter protections (Protections Notice) to tenants by May 27, 2020.

How will the City implement the residential eviction moratorium?

Affirmative Defense

Tenants facing eviction have an affirmative defense if the proposed eviction is for non-payment of rent and the tenant’s inability to pay rent results from circumstances related to the COVID-19 emergency. Tenants or their attorneys can raise the existence of this moratorium as a defense in an Unlawful Detainer action. Tenants and their attorneys may argue that they are an Affected Tenant by providing documentation to the Landlord that they have lost substantial income.

Tenants should notify their landlord of their inability to pay the full rent before the due date. The Governor’s Order indicates a tenant must notify their landlord in writing before rent is due or within 7 days after the rent due date. The L.A. City Ordinance does not require tenants to provide their landlord notice or documentation if unable to pay rent due to COVID-19, but tenants should keep documentation in the event of a court action.

HCIDLA Administrative Process

Additionally, the Los Angeles Housing + Community Development Department (HCIDLA) will intake tenant complaints and inform both landlords and tenants of the requirements of the renter protections. HCIDLA will conduct an investigation similar to the existing process for enforcement of tenant protections under the City’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO).

Eviction complaints can be filed:

Electronically at: hcidla.lacity.org/File-a-Complaint

Telephone Hotline at (866) 557-7368.

Complaints will be assigned to a Housing Investigator, who will investigate the tenant’s claim and advise the landlord and tenant of their findings

New State Law - AB 3088

Questions and Answers

Yes.
On April 6, 2020, the Judicial Council, which oversees California’s court system, enacted emergency rules to suspend court action on all eviction cases, except to protect public health and safety. While the Judicial Council emergency rules do not prevent a landlord from filing an unlawful detainer complaint in court, the rules prevent the issuance of a summons or default judgment. Even if the Judicial Council rescinds its emergency rules, the City’s COVID-19 tenant protection ordinances remain in place.

    • The City’s ordinances remain in effect and continue to afford protections to the City’s tenants during the pandemic:
      Landlords may not evict tenants during the local emergency period and for 12 months after the emergency ends for failure to pay rent during the emergency, if that failure to pay rent is related to COVID-19.
    • Landlords may not evict tenants during the emergency for no fault reasons (such as family move-in, installation of a resident manager, or to remove the rental unit from the rental housing market), or for having unauthorized tenants and pets, or creating a nuisance because of COVID-19.
    • Landlords also cannot evict tenants under the Ellis Act until 60 days following the local emergency.
    • Rents on RSO rental units may not be increased until 12 months after the emergency ends.

The Renter Protections apply to all residential and commercial rentals in the City of Los Angeles, including apartments, duplexes, condominiums and single-family dwellings. The protection applies to all renters, regardless of immigration status.

The current Emergency Order applies to:
  • Residential or commercial evictions stemming from failure to pay rent when the tenant is unable to pay the rent as a result of loss of income related to the Coronavirus as outlined above. This advisory covers residential evictions only.
  • All no-fault evictions. No-Fault evictions means those not based on an alleged fault of the tenant and include evictions for owner occupancy or installation of a resident manager.
  • All evictions for permanent withdrawal of a property from the rental housing market (“Eliis” evictions). Tenancies may not be terminated under the Ellis Act until 60 days after the expiration of the Emergency Order.
  • Tenants may also not be evicted for having an additional tenant, pet or nuisance as a result of circumstances related to COVID-29.
The Renter Protections apply to nonpayment eviction notices, served or filed on or after the date on which the local emergency was proclaimed, March 4, 2020.

Tenants are still obligated to pay lawfully charged rent. However, during the emergency period, tenants may not be evicted for failure to pay rent due to the financial impacts related to COVID-19. Tenants will have up to 12 months following the expiration of the local emergency to repay any back rent due. Landlords and tenants may mutually work out a payment schedule or arrangements for repayment of rent.

The City is reviewing options for a rental assistance program. At the moment there is no rental assistance available. If and when rental assistance becomes available, updates and information on how to apply will be posted.

First, the renter protections give renters an affirmative defense to tenants facing eviction as a result of their inability to pay rent due to the loss of wages as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Renters should seek assistance from legal services providers in responding to any Unlawful Detainer action filed by their landlords. Click here for Legal referrals. Any tenant of a residential property in the City of Los Angeles who is unable to pay rent should inform their landlord as soon as possible before the rent is due or within 7 days of the rent due date and try to work out payment arrangements. If a tenant receives a Notice to Pay Rent or Quit, they should inform their landlord that they are an Affected Tenant as a result of COVID-19 before the expiration of any Notice to Pay Rent or Quit. Tenants may seek information and assistance from the Los Angeles Housing + Community Development Department (HCIDLA) by calling 866-557-RENT OR 866-557-7368, Monday – Friday, between the hours of 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM, or by filing a complaint online at: hcidla.lacity.org/File-a-Complaint.

A “No-Fault” eviction is one which is not based on any fault or action of the tenant. Examples of “no-fault” evictions include evictions when the landlord or his family intend to move into the unit or when the landlord wishes to withdraw the rental unit from the housing market. These evictions are not allowed during the Emergency Declaration.

Additionally, evictions are not allowed during the Emergency Declaration, if the reason for the eviction is that the landlord wants to withdraw the unit from the rental housing market (“Ellis”).

A tenant “at-fault” eviction is one based on the tenant’s actions in violation of the lease or rental agreement, such as failure to pay rent, causing a nuisance, using the rental unit for an illegal purpose, or a breach of a provision of the lease.

Evictions for non-payment of rent are not allowed through the Emergency Declaration, if the tenant’s inability to pay the full rent is due to circumstances related to COVID-19 as described above. Evictions are also not allowed for having additional occupants, pets, or nuisance as a result of the COVID-19 emergency.

If you are unable to pay your full rent because of circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic, here is what you should do:

  1. Do not leave your home.
  2. Let your landlord know as soon as possible that you cannot pay full rent because of circumstances related to COVID-19 and try to arrange another payment plan.
    • It is best to alert your landlord before you miss a rental payment.
    • At minimum, you should inform your landlord within 7 days of the rent due date.
    • If you miss a rental payment or do not pay the full rent when it is due, the landlord may provide a “Notice to Pay Rent or Quit.”
    • If you receive such notice, it is important to inform your landlord that the reason you were not able to pay full rent is because of circumstances related to COVID-19 before the expiration date or deadline listed on the “Notice to Pay Rent or Quit.”
  • A renter contacts HCIDLA’s hotline (phone) 1-866-557-7368 or online hcidla.lacity.org/File-a-Complaint.
  • A renter should provide a copy of the “Notice to Pay Rent or Quit” and documentation (if available, but not required) that the renter or household have been financially impacted by COVID-19, if possible. Examples of documentation may include but are not limited to, a letter from your employer citing COVID-19 as a reason for reduced work hours or termination, paycheck stubs, bank statements, doctor’s note, school notifications.
  • Once a complaint is filed, it will be assigned as a case to a Housing Investigator.
  • The Housing Investigator will investigate the claim and let the tenant and the landlord know that the COVID-19 Renter Protections apply.

If your claim is supported, the Housing Investigator will send a letter to the landlord requesting cancellation of the “Notice to Pay Rent or Quit.”

A landlord may not use self-help to evict a tenant. Lockouts and utility shut offs are illegal. Self-help includes removing or destroying the tenant’s possessions, or other similar harassing behaviors that seek to “evict” a tenant. If a landlord does these things, they could be liable to their tenant for damages.

Tenants do not have to leave their units unless they are served with a Sheriff’s Order, which happens after the case is heard in Court. Currently, California Courts have agreed to stop hearing all eviction cases, other than those necessary to protect public health and safety, for the duration of the COVID‐19 emergency. The rule is applicable to all courts and to all eviction cases and will apply until 90 days after the Governor lifts the state of emergency related to the COVID‐19 pandemic.

It is important to seek legal assistance in responding to harassment and eviction. Legal referrals may be found by clicking here.

How will HCIDLA review eviction complaints related to the COVID-19 emergency response?

Initial Review
  • Verification of the tenant’s receipt of a “Notice to Pay Rent or Quit”.
  • Review of the stated reason for eviction.
  • Review of tenant’s documentation (if documentation is available, but not required) related to their loss of income as a result of:
    1. Workplace closure or reduced hours or services due to COVID-19.
    2. Child care expenditures or inability to work due to school closures.
    3. Health care expenditures stemming from COVID-19 infection of the tenant or a member of the tenant’s household who is ill with COVID-19.
    4. Reasonable expenditures stemming from government ordered emergency measures.
    5. Any additional factors relevant to the tenant’s reduction in income as a result of the COVID-19 emergency.
Tenants will be advised that they should provide their landlord with notice that they are an Affected Tenant as a result of COVID-19 before the expiration of any Notice to Pay Rent or Quit. Determination and Communication to the Landlord If a Notice to Pay Rent or Quit has been issued and supporting documents provided (if documentation is available, but not required), then the Housing Investigator will send a letter to the landlord requesting cancellation of the Notice to Pay Rent or Quit. The letter will communicate that the tenant’s inability to pay rent stems from circumstances related to COVID-19, thus allowing the tenant to repay any back due rent up to 12 months following the expiration of the local emergency, or work out an alternate payment agreement with their landlord. Post Investigation and Communication to the Tenant
  1. HCIDLA will provide thorough information to the tenant that can be used to support the affirmative defense in an unlawful detainer action. The tenant will also be provided with legal referrals, or can view a list for affordable or free legal assistance at https://hcidla.lacity.org/housing/landlord-tenant-legal-service-resources.
  2. Even with the Mayor’s protections on evictions, tenants are still required to pay rent.
  3. Tenants have up to 12 months following the expiration of the local emergency to repay any back rent due.
  4. The tenant and landlord may mutually work out a payment schedule or arrangements for repayment of rent.

Tenants should immediately inform their landlord that they cannot pay their rent or cannot pay their rent in full due to a loss of income arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. If the landlord does not withdraw the eviction notice, tenants should immediately file a complaint with HCIDLA at hcidla.lacity.org/File-a-Complaint or by calling 866-557-RENT (866-557-7368) between 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday or 10:00 a.m. through 3:00 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

If you reach the expiration date listed on the “Notice to Pay Rent or Quit” and are unable to work out a payment plan with your landlord or resolve your complaint with HCIDLA, you may receive a formal eviction or “Unlawful Detainer.” This means you may have to go to court to fight the eviction. It is important to seek legal assistance in responding to any eviction or “Unlawful Detainer” action filed by your landlord. If a tenant is served with Court papers or an Unlawful Detainer action, they should immediately seek legal counsel and assistance in responding to the Unlawful Detainer. Click here for legal referrals.

“Do not ignore a notice from the Court or Unlawful Detainer notification!”

Tenants do not have to leave their units unless they are served with a Sheriff’s Order, which happens after the case is heard in Court.

The COVID-19 Renter Protections are in effect from the date of the declaration of the emergency on March 4, 2020, through the expiration of the emergency. Ellis evictions are disallowed for 60 days after the end of the emergency declaration.

Under the Mayor’s order, tenants have up to 12 months following the expiration of the local emergency to repay any back rent due. The tenant and landlord may mutually work out a payment schedule or arrangements for repayment of the rent. HCIDLA will assist with repayment agreements.
  • Landlords may be able to apply for a disaster loan related to economic damage from the Coronavirus crisis through the Small Business Administration: disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.
  • L.A. County’s Disaster Help Center is providing expanded foreclosure protection assistance for landlords with 15 or fewer units. If you are a property owner facing financial difficulty, contact the Help Center to learn about available resources for your situation. Call (833) 238-4450 or visit lacountyhelpcenter.org.
  • Any property owner affected by the COVID-19 crisis who is struggling to pay property taxes can complete and submit a penalty cancellation request online by visiting ttc.lacounty.gov/penalty-cancellation-request. If you cannot submit online, call 213-974-2111.

Best Practices for Tenants and Landlords / Property Managers

For tenants

  • Communicate with your landlord about your inability to pay if your income is affected by the COVID-19 emergency.
  • Do not ignore any notices issued by the landlord or property manager.
  • If you file a complaint (case) with HCID, be sure to comply with the requirements and documentation requested by HCID.
  • All tenants are still responsible for any lawfully charged rents due.

For landlords and property managers

  • Work with tenants, during the Emergency Declaration period.
  • Communicate with the tenant about their ability to pay..
  • Do not ignore the tenant protections in place.
  • Thank you for helping to prevent the displacement of your tenants.

Tenant and Landlord Resources

Tenant Resources (Recursos para inquilinos):

City of Los Angeles: FamilySource Center

LA County’s Department of Social Services: Your Benefits

Landlord Resources (Recursos para proprietarios):

California Coronavirus COVID-19 Get Financial Help

US Small Business Administration (SBA): Disaster Loan Assistance

LA County’s Disaster Help Center: Tenant & Landlord Resources

LA County’s Treasury and Tax Collector: Tax Penalty Cancellation Request

Tenants are still obligated to pay lawfully charged rent

Action / process related to this protections may change, and will be updated accordingly.

Updated: 7/21/20


References:

City Ordinance: Temporary Protection of Tenants During COVID-19 Pandemic –
http://clkrep.lacity.org/onlinedocs/2020/20-0147-S19_ORD_186606_05-12-2020.pdf
http://clkrep.lacity.org/onlinedocs/2020/20-0147-S19_ORD_186585_03-31-2020.pdf

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