LA landlords must pay to relocate tenants facing hefty rent hikes

City Council passes ordinance requiring relocation costs after price jumps of 10% or more

A photo illustration of Los Angeles Councilmembers Nithya Raman and John Lee (Getty)
A photo illustration of Los Angeles Councilmembers Nithya Raman and John Lee (Getty)

Landlords in Los Angeles must now pay to relocate tenants who move after a large rent increase.

The Los Angeles City Council has adopted an ordinance requiring landlords to pay relocation assistance to tenants who move out after getting rent increases of 10 percent or more, City News Service reported in the Los Angeles Daily News.

Under the ordinance, if a landlord hikes rent by more than 10 percent, or the Consumer Price Index plus 5 percent, he or she must pay the tenant three times the fair market rent for relocation assistance, plus $1,411 in moving costs.

The relocation assistance, which the council preliminarily approved last week, is the final piece of a tenant protections package the council sought to pass after it voted to end the local COVID-19 state of emergency – including an eviction moratorium – in late January.

The new ordinance contained an urgency clause, but didn’t move forward immediately because Councilmembers John Lee and Traci Park dissented in the 10-2 vote.

Lee said the relocation assistance ordinance tips the scale too far in the direction of tenants, and “the other side is left holding the short end.”

“We need to be doing everything we can to incentivize the creation of more affordable housing in the city,” Lee said. “We need to be finding ways to keep small mom-and-pop landlords in this city. But instead we keep going for policies that place a huge financial burden on housing providers, making it harder and harder to operate in the city of Los Angeles.”

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The council had already voted for ordinances that require universal “just cause” for evictions and allow tenants behind on rent to stay in their apartments for a month, unless they owe more than one month’s worth of fair market rent.

According to the city’s housing department, fair market rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles is $1,747, and $2,222 for a two-bedroom. 

The new ordinance would provide relocation assistance for tenants of units that are not already covered by the city’s rent-stabilization ordinance or state law — meaning it would cover an additional 84,000 rental units in Los Angeles that were built after 2008.

“This is the last of six votes that we’ve taken on a package of renter protections that I think will be transformative for Los Angeles moving forward,” said Councilwoman Nithya Raman, who was among the council members pushing for the protections.

Raman made a “personal commitment” to the dissenter Lee that she would be willing to partner with him in working to create more housing in the city. Both members sit on the city council’s housing committee.

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“We can’t do that until we create an environment in this city that is friendly to those builders, to those laborers that help us to build that housing,” Raman added.

Last month, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors extended through March its tenant protections against eviction for those impacted by COVID- 19, which would cover city residents.