LA County extends eviction moratorium through January

Mom-and-pop property owners figure in board discussion, as “landlords are people too”

LA County supervisor Hilda Solis (Getty)
LA County supervisor Hilda Solis (Getty)

The L.A. County Board of Supervisors voted on Tuesday to extend the county’s eviction moratorium through January, bringing the county’s moratorium deadline in line with a parallel deadline in the City of L.A. and prolonging for another month an emergency protection that went into place near the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

But after one supervisor had introduced an amendment to the one-month extension motion, the board also passed a potentially more significant piece of legislation: a motion for county staff to come up with a report on the feasibility of extending the moratorium another five months after that, which could leave the county moratorium in place through the end of next June.

“I know that the motion that you’re putting before us is well intended,” Supervisor Hilda Solis, whose district includes Central L.A. and part of eastern L.A. County, said of the one-month extension. “But I do believe, in my opinion, the right thing to do is to explore the extension to perhaps six months.”

A longer extension, Solis argued, would allow the county to effectively communicate the new deadline with tenants and property owners and implement more tenant aid programs.

Solis and other board members spent several minutes vigorously discussing the plight of the county’s mom-and-pop landlords, whom the board generally acknowledged have endured plenty of their own financial hardship.

Solis’ potential five-month extension amendment directs county staff to identify funding sources for $5 million in landlord assistance. Supervisors also emphasized the need for the report, which is due in 30 days, to include more specifics about current and future landlord aid programs.

“I would say that we’ve always had these intentions to protect the tenant, and to protect the landlord — because landlords are people too, and without the landlord you don’t have the tenant,” she said. “But I don’t think it has been implemented in the way that we wanted to see it implemented, so that nobody is suffering out there.”

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Supervisor Janice Hahn also referred to her neighbor, a landlord who frequently knocks on her door to tell the supervisor how much back rent he’s owed, she said.

“I think he’s owed like $60,000. He’s never going to get that. So he’s going to be distressed that we’re going to continue this [moratorium],” she said. “I just don’t know how that money is getting to the landlords.”

“I did try to get something similar passed before and it didn’t quite make it,” Solis added, referring to the landlord aid effort. “But the intent was to try to get to mom-and-pops, because I think they have been suffering. There’s no doubt.”

Among L.A. County property owners, the renewed focus on financial assistance for landlords is welcome, although for some it will do little to assuage what amounts to years of rancor over the tenant-centered pandemic protections.

“Literally hundreds of millions of dollars are on the table that will ultimately become complete write-offs,” Dan Yukelson, executive director of the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles, said earlier this fall. “The City of Los Angeles and other jurisdictions imposing these moratoriums might have simply exploded a bomb over the heads of housing providers.”

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