Landlord-tenant lifeline: LA County may buy affordable properties facing foreclosure

Board of Supervisors measure seeks to counter “speculative or large-scale corporate purchase of residential properties”

Hilda Solis
Hilda Solis

The coronavirus crisis has already prompted a number of large investors like JPMorgan and Fortress to launch real estate funds to take advantage of investment opportunities, including targeting distressed assets.

Now, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisor is mulling a program intended to maintain the affordable housing stock by allowing multifamily property owners to sell properties facing default, according to LAist. The board’s measure would allow the county to buy residential properties itself and then turn them over to community groups to maintain their affordability, according to LAist. Renters and community land trusts could also purchase the properties.

The board passed a motion this week to explore the “right to purchase program,” along with several other housing- and coronavirus-related measures.

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The measure is meant to “counter speculative or large-scale corporate purchase of residential properties,” which could gain momentum with a wave of multifamily foreclosures in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Supervisor Hilda Solis, who authored the motion, said she wants to ensure “homes are not bought by speculators who will worsen and create a market that will be unbearable for many of our residents.” Essentially, those investors could buy up the residential properties then raise the prices on the rental units, officials said.

The Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles, a landlord trade group, blasted the proposal. Director Daniel Yukelson said the county was “seeking to compel the sale” of private properties while landlords “go broke.”
The group has also criticized the county’s rent freeze and eviction moratorium, which the board extended through June 30. [LAist] ­­ ­— Dennis Lynch