What do we want? Mortgage relief!: Landlords plan LA protest

“Grassroots” effort will highlight plight of “mom-and-pop” property owners on Saturday

Landlords are organizing a protest around the lack of mortgage relief government policies and the inability to hit tenants with eviction notices.
Landlords are organizing a protest around the lack of mortgage relief government policies and the inability to hit tenants with eviction notices.

Downtown Los Angeles is no stranger to protests, but an unexpected group will be hitting the streets on Saturday to raise their signs: Residential landlords.

Dozens of landlords are planning an 11 a.m. rally outside the county assessor’s office at 500 W. Temple Street.

The event is being organized by Yong Ling Lee, who calls herself a “mom-and-pop landlord.” Lee says she rents out 10 single-family houses in Hawthorne, Redondo and other corners of the county.

Lee has been spreading word of the “Bi-Coastal Housing Provider” protest on Facebook, and says their counterparts in New York City are planning a similar action.

The Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles, the main local lobbying group for landlords, is also promoting the event. Apartment Association executive director Daniel Yukelson said the group is not organizing the protest, which he called a “completely grassroots effort.”

The protest will focus on two concerns: The statewide eviction ban, and landlords’ mounting mortgage payments, in which they say the government has provided little relief.

The California Judicial Council partly addressed the first issue. The state court’s rulemaking body on Thursday said it would end emergency rules prohibiting eviction and foreclosure proceedings, effective Sept. 1. The decision followed lawsuits by landlords who claimed the Judicial Council was illegally doing the work of the California legislature.

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But the Judicial Council has made clear it is ending the ban as a way to force the legislature to draw up its own moratorium extension.

The L.A. demonstration is meant to counter recent rallies by the Los Angeles Tenants Union and Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment. Those groups have called for rent payment strikes and some have physically confronted landlords who were suspected of defying the statewide eviction ban. Messages left with tenant groups organizers were not returned.

Unlike renters, landlords have so far not taken part in street marches, though California and New York property owners have previously demonstrated in opposition to rent control measures.

“The rental rights people that are saying, ‘housing is a human right,’ they are taking advantage of us,” Lee said. “We work hard for little profit. And the government has not helped us a dime with our mortgages.”

In fact, the federal government has provided mortgage relief, but only to landlords with mortgages guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a deal with some lending institutions in March for mortgage forbearance. But many landlords said they didn’t see the state’s intervention as an improvement over individual negotiations with mortgage providers.

Landlords are also concerned about rental income with the expiration of $600-a-week supplemental federal unemployment benefits. While property owners interviewed said they weathered the storm in August, landlords like Kevin Conway, who owns about 6,000 residential rental properties across the state, said he expects a drop in payments come September.