Report warns of mass evictions in LA County after ban lifts

A new UCLA study estimates a staggering 350K+ renters would be forced out once California’s moratorium ends; landlord groups strongly disagree

Credit: iStock)
The UCLA report found that the statewide eviction moratorium could end without protections in place for renters, endangering hundreds of thousands of residents. (Credit: iStock)

An estimated 365,000 residential evictions would be carried out in Los Angeles County once the current statewide moratorium lifts.

That eye-popping estimate comes from a report released Thursday by the UCLA Luskin Institute on Inequality and Democracy, a document that will likely further inflame an already heated debate among landlords and tenants.

“State and local leaders have not planned for the inevitable intensification of what was already a humanitarian crisis,” wrote the study’s author, Gary Blasi, a UCLA law professor emeritus. Landlord groups strenuously disagree.

What the report sees as a ticking time bomb is the eviction moratorium announced in early April by the Judicial Council, California’s rulemaking body led by Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye.

Under the rule, all commercial and residential evictions are suspended until either Gov. Gavin Newson declares California is no longer in a state of emergency, or the Judicial Council lifts the order.

But the report argues neither the state nor local governments have not passed substantive and long-term eviction protections for people who can no longer afford to pay rent.

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There have been legislative proposals to address the issue, including L.A. City Council President Nury Martinez’s call this week to give $100 million in rental income assistance to low-income tenants.

The UCLA report — UD Day: Impending Evictions and Homelessness in Los Angeles — arrives at the staggering eviction number by tabulating households either generating no income nor receiving unemployment or pandemic unemployment insurance. Many of the households are undocumented immigrants who are ineligible to receive benefits. The report is part of the school’s “Housing Justice in the Time of Covid-19” series. “UD” stands for unlawful detainer, when a landlord files an eviction notice against a tenant.

The study does assume that the 1.1 million L.A. County residents — or 26 percent of the county labor force — who applied for unemployment between March 15 and May 9 will pay rent in the forthcoming months through public assistance. But the report warns benefits from some federally-financed programs, like Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for independent contractors — including real estate agents — expires in July.

Landlord groups reached Friday pushed back on the notion governments must increase tenant protections.

“These unfounded claims of mass evictions are just more of the same attacks against private property owners that will ultimately force rental housing providers out of business here in California,” said Daniel Yukelson, executive director of the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles.

Yukelson said his organization’s members would work with tenants to prevent mass evictions.

How close the Judicial Council might be to lifting the eviction moratorium order is not clear. A spokesperson said there is nothing scheduled to lift the rule, but added, “that doesn’t necessarily mean the Council won’t act on amending a rule.”