LA extends eviction moratorium as Covid cases surge

Officials also bolstered protections against landlord harassment and intimidation

Photo illustration by The Real Deal (iStock)
Photo illustration by The Real Deal (iStock)

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has extended a moratorium on evictions through the end of February as Covid-19 cases surge and stay-at-home orders put a stranglehold on businesses. There were 13,500 new cases of the virus reported countywide on Jan. 5.

The board also bolstered protections against landlord harassment and intimidation, according to the Los Angeles Daily News. The eviction moratorium has been in effect since March, and was set to expire on Jan. 31.

Landlords have criticized the measure for going too far, while tenants and advocates say it doesn’t go far enough.

The moratorium prevents landlords from evicting tenants for nonpayment of rent, but requires tenants pay back any rent they missed when the moratorium expires.

Tenant advocates said that many renters won’t be able to pay back those debts. Activist Gina Viola said that “canceling rent with targeted landlord relief” is the only way to protect the most vulnerable renters, according to the report.

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“At some point, the bills for unpaid rent will come due, and low-income tenants who are already severely rent-burdened and still without steady income will not be able to pay it back,” she said.

Some landlords, meanwhile, argued that the measure doesn’t help smaller property owners meet their own debt obligations.

Around 240,000 renters in California are behind on rent, according to federal data compiled this fall. Back rent is estimated to total around $1.7 billion.

The state has its own moratorium in place through Feb. 1. Any back rent owed by renters who lost income because of the pandemic is converted into consumer debt and cannot be used as grounds for eviction. [LADN] — Dennis Lynch