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Supes Extend Eviction Protections, Explore Sale of Properties Facing Default to Community Groups

The following article was originally published May 12, 2020, and republished through a collaboration with KPCC and LAist.

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Story by Aaron Mendelson

 

Reporter Roundup is a collaboration between PBS SoCal/KCET and KPCC/LAist to bring you the biggest headlines M-F about COVID-19. Watch the May 12 episode here.

The Los Angeles County Supervisors voted on Tuesday to explore a pathway for renters and community groups to buy properties facing default — an effort designed to halt a wave of real estate speculation, as happened following the Great Recession.

The board voted 4-1 on that measure, one of three rental-related motions they passed on this morning.

The "right to purchase program" would allow property owners, before defaulting, to sell to existing renters, non-profits, community land trusts or other mission-driven groups. The goal is to create permanent affordable housing and serve "as a tool to stabilize existing communities and counter speculative or large-scale corporate purchase of residential properties," the motion says.

The county itself could purchase properties, and then turn them over to community groups. Staff will report back on the effort to supervisors in 45 days.

The motion was introduced by First District Supervisor Hilda Solis.

"What we want to make sure is that we put in place policies so that homes are not bought by speculators who will worsen and create a market that will be unbearable for many of our residents," Solis said at the meeting, which was conducted remotely.

The measure came under fire from the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles.

"The County is now seeking to compel the sale of these private properties to renters or other entities chosen by the County as property owners go broke," director Daniel Yukelson wrote in an email last week. "How do these optics look?

Yukelson wrote that previous county measures freezing rents and stopping evictions "have literally driven thousands of housing providers to their knees."

In Southern California and around the country, reporting has documented how corporate landlords push costs onto renters by deferring repairs, retaining security deposits and assessing fees. Figuring the size of corporate landlords' holdings, however, can be a challenge, given the paucity of data on the rental market.

An apartment for rent in Central Los Angeles. | Matt Tinoco/LAist
An apartment for rent in Central Los Angeles. | Matt Tinoco/LAist

EVICTION PROTECTIONS FOR RESIDENTIAL TENANTS, BUT NOT BIG BUSINESSES

Supervisors narrowly approved a motion to extend the county's eviction protections until August 31, 2020.

"The necessity of keeping people in their living situation at least over the next three months is critical," said Third District Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, who painted the issue as a public health measure. There was debate among the supervisors over how long to extend the eviction protections, with two voting against the motion.

L.A. County has banned evictions of residential tenants who are unable to pay due to COVID-19. The law covers unincorporated areas of the county, and cities that do not have their own eviction laws.

The supervisors also unanimously passed a motion to strip eviction protections from commercial tenants that are multinational, publicly traded or have more than 100 employees.

Companies with between 10 and 100 employees will have 6 months to pay back rent, following the end of the moratorium period.

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