Local housing activists said they are concerned that a lawsuit by the Apartment Association of Los Angeles County (AAGLA) to block the city of Los Angeles rent moratorium could spell problems for local tenants.
On Wednesday, attorneys for the AAGLA argued that the moratorium violated landlords’ constitutional rights.
Under the city’s moratorium, tenants can defer rent for up to one year after the moratorium expires. Tenants have to pay deferred rent by Aug. 1, 2022 or 12 months after the emergency is lifted.
Pasadena’s eviction moratorium gives local residents six months to pay rent after the city’s emergency orders are lifted.
According to Reuters, AAGLA claims the city’s ban went further than others by allowing tenants to withhold rent during the COVID emergency without any notice to the landlord, and gave them a one-year grace period after the end of the emergency to pay back rent.
“Of course I am concerned that [AAGLA] is using their efforts in this regard,” said local activist Allison Henry. “It is very disappointing that while tenants and landlords are still waiting for local, state, and federal relief — relief that everyone acknowledges takes time to disperse — that [they are] taking this costly and aggressive stance on county protections. I hope that the Pasadena City Council would listen to the Pasadena community — made up of tenants and homeowners — that would decry opening the floodgates of evictions.”
Henry warned that people should watch carefully how powerful lobbying organizations use their resources.
“We are not long out of this pandemic, if we are out of it at all,” Henry said.
If an injunction is granted in Los Angeles, lawyers could file lawsuits in other cities.
Pasadena’s eviction moratorium will end six months after City Manager Steve Mermell lifts the emergency order.
The association, which has more than 10,000 members that own or manage more than 150,000 rental housing units in Los Angeles, Ventura and San Bernardino counties, filed suit last June, saying landlords aren’t likely to ever see the money from back rent.
States and cities across the nation after the pandemic began to help people who lost their jobs.
Last week, a judge struck down the CDC moratorium, but the decision has been stayed.
“We know in Pasadena that we had tenants whose landlords refused city rent relief, and that we have tenants who have back rent due to job loss,” Henry said. “For those that suffered the economic impacts of COVID19, it will be a long lasting hit and one that will take months or even years to overcome.”
According to a study released last May by the UCLA Luskin Institute on Inequality and Democracy, about 365,000 renter households in Los Angeles County are in imminent danger of eviction once an order halting evictions is lifted.
According to the study, by this time last year nearly 600,000 people in L.A County had lost their jobs and had no unemployment insurance or other income replacement.
Nearly 450,000 of those people live in 365,000 units of rental housing, and 558,000 children live in those households.
The study also found that people in 120,000 households in L.A. County will become homeless soon after.
The crisis could be made worse without a massive increase in legal services. Most tenants will face evictions within weeks simply because they won’t be able to file a sufficient legal response.
“Unless we take immediate action now to either prevent or prepare for the coming waves of eviction, the toll on those evicted will go beyond the damaging effects, especially for nearly a half-million children, of forced displacement itself,” the report states. “That toll is largely invisible, if no less painful. The much more visible and more painful toll will be seen in the massive increase in the numbers of Angelenos who lack both housing and shelter and are forced to fend for themselves.”