LA landlords sue city over residential eviction ban

Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles’ federal filing calls temporary freeze “hastily instituted,” unconstitutional

Eric Garcetti, Nury Martinez, and Daniel Yukelson (Credit: Marc Flores and Alberto E. Rodriguez via Getty Imahes, Linkedin, and iStock)
Eric Garcetti, Nury Martinez, and Daniel Yukelson (Credit: Marc Flores and Alberto E. Rodriguez via Getty Imahes, Linkedin, and iStock)

Los Angeles’ main landlord trade group has filed a lawsuit challenging the city’s residential eviction moratorium.

The Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles filed a lawsuit in federal court Thursday against Mayor Eric Garcetti and the City Council, arguing the “hastily instituted” citywide eviction moratorium infringes on the “constitutional rights of all lessors and landlords within the city.”

The complaint marks the culmination of a simmering debate between residential landlords, tenants, and the city over housing measures implemented during the coronavirus crisis.

Messages left with Garcetti and Council President Nury Martinez were not immediately returned.

Passed in March as the virus was just taking hold, the moratorium ordinance lets tenants defer rent payments if Covid-19 affected their health or income.

Subsequent city laws passed gave tenants 12 months to pay back rent, and provided a private right of action for a tenant to recoup $15,000 if a landlord violated the ordinance. It alleges these measures unconstitutionally target landlords. The suit also claims that the eviction moratorium “provides no relief for owners and landlords” while freeing the tenants from the responsibilities of their signed leases.

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The city has not come up with an equivalent law that would allow landlords to defer their mortgage payments.

The lawsuit was filed one day after the state Judicial Council postponed a decision to resume evictions and foreclosure proceedings, essentially keeping the status quo.

Under the existing Judicial Council ban, state courts are prohibited from processing eviction notices filed by landlords. Judicial Council chair Tani Cantil-Sakauye indicated the ban would remain until there is greater legislative clarity on evictions and rent payments.

Daniel Yukelson, executive director for the Apartment Association, said Wednesday that L.A. multifamily landlords have seen a double-digit dip in their rent collections since April.

In previous interviews, several landlords have lamented the decrease in rent collections but have maintained their own financial stability, saying they do not need to renegotiate mortgage payments.