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June 9, 2009

New Eviction Protections Won
Loopholes Allowing Landlord to Unjustly Evict Tenants Closed


CES tenant leaders and staff turnout out to City Council Housing Committee meeting on May 6, 2009 in support of increased tenant eviction protections. 
(From left to right: Front row – Maria Hernandez, Rosa Hilda Archila, Margarita Morales, Agripina Escobar, Lourdes Orellano, Teresa Bautista. Back row – Yence Linares, Juana Hernandez, Joel Montano, Maria Morales, Rebecca Popuch, Melissa Chinchilla.)

On June 9, 2009 the Los Angeles City Council unanimously voted in favor of finalizing an ordinance that will provide tenants more eviction protections.
The measure will significantly close a loophole regarding evictions for "Good Faith," such as for owner move-ins and for moving in an owner's family member. This has been an area of extreme abuse and fraud resulting in many unjust evictions.
The City Council also, unfortunately, reduced relocation assistance in very limited cases where a landlord owns properties that don't exceed 4 units. And, while this is something CES couldn’t support, in truth, the increased tenant protections won will have a more far-reaching impact on providing many more tenants with additional needed protections.
CES Executive Director Larry Gross, in his testimony before the City Council stated, "While we support the increased tenant protections in this ordinance, we can’t see justification for reducing tenant relocation assistance, especially in these hard economic times."
Gross added, that "a truly unfortunate and disappointing choice was being made, but that said, we do fully support the increased tenant protections, and truly hope many more people will benefit from these added protections than are hurt from reduced relocation assistance.
The tenant relocation assistance reduction, even in this limited way is hard to except, though we were successful in increasing the original proposed relocation reduction by $3,100 for "qualified" tenants which are seniors, disabled and low-income families. This amount will now be $14,000 instead of the proposed $10,900.
Important New Tenant Eviction Protection Won

  • Expressly require that the owner or the eligible family member in good faith intends to move in to the unit within three months of the existing tenant's vacation of the unit and to reside in the unit for at least 24 months;
  • Provide that failure to move in to the unit within three months or to reside in the unit for at least two years constitutes evidence of bad faith;
  • Provide that if the owner fails to act in good faith, the City or the evicted tenant may institute a civil proceeding for injunctive relief and/or money damages of not less than three times actual damages, reasonable attorney's fees and costs and whatever other relief the court deems appropriate;
  • Prohibit evictions for owner, family or resident manager occupancy of any tenant who is at least 62 years old, or disabled, and who has resided in the subject unit for at least ten years; also prohibit good faith evictions for tenants who are terminally ill as certified by a treating physician licensed to practice in California;
  • Provide that the owner or family member shall occupy the unit as their primary place of residence;
  • Expressly prohibit an eviction for owner or family occupancy if there is already an available and vacant comparable unit in the building;
  • Require the owner to file a certificate of re-rental with LAHD prior to re-rental of the subject unit;
  • Provide for the right of first refusal to the evicted tenant when the owner returns the subject unit to the rental market prior to 24 months after the owner, family or manager's occupancy of the unit and the tenant has notified the landlord and LAHD of a desire to re-rent the unit if it is returned to the rental market;
  • Require that any tenant evicted pursuant to a good faith eviction be the most recent tenant to occupy a unit in the property with the number of bedrooms required by the occupying owner, family member or resident manager, unless the owner, family member or resident manager require another unit with the same number of bedrooms due to medical necessity, as certified by a treating physician licensed to practice in the State of California.

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