LA landlords who keep units empty could get taxed

A city councilman wants to crack down on apartment owners who would rather keep units vacant than have to charge lower rent

Los Angeles City Councilmember Mike Bonin
Los Angeles City Councilmember Mike Bonin

Los Angeles is in the middle of an affordable housing crisis, and one city officials says landlords have only made matters worse by keeping units vacant instead of charging lower rents.

City Councilman Mike Bonin is calling for a report on potential options for an “empty homes penalty” ballot measure that would tax offending landlords, according to Curbed.

Bonin called it a means to “confront one of the root causes of the homelessness crisis in Los Angeles,” Curbed reported. The councilman’s request will seek to find out precisely how many property owners are intentionally keeping their units vacant.

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U.S. Census estimates put the number of vacant units in Los Angeles — including second homes and vacation homes — at around 93,500, according to Curbed.

If a tax makes it onto the 2020 ballot, the real estate industry would in all likelihood mount a vigorous campaign against it, as owners and landlord advocacy groups have done over recent ballot measures.

Those include opposition to last November’s Proposition 10 statewide referendum that would have allowed for new rent control laws and this month’s citywide parcel tax that would have funded L.A.’s school district. Both ballot measures failed to secure enough votes for passage, and both were strongly opposed by the real estate industry. [Curbed]Dennis Lynch 

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