Business & Economy

LA housing officials suggest policies to discourage evictions

LA housing officials say the city must find ways to keep people from being evicted to make way for new developments.
LA housing officials say the city must find ways to keep people from being evicted to make way for new developments.
Susanica Tam/For KPCC

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Los Angeles housing officials are urging the City Council to tighten renter protections to slow the use of a state law that lets landlords to remove units from the rental market and evict the tenants inhabiting them.

The city's housing department presented a report Wednesday showing no-fault evictions allowed under the state's Ellis Act are growing, leaving displaced tenants scrambling for housing in one of the  least affordable cities in the country.

"It began to rise again in approximately 2013 and tripled between 2013 and 2014" after plunging during the recession, said Anna Ortega of the L.A. Housing and Community Development department.

The Ellis Act lets landlords evict tenants if they want to put up a new building or convert apartments to condominiums. They invoked the law to take nearly 1,100 units off the market in 2015 alone.

Source: Los Angeles Housing and Community Development Department

Ortega said L.A. should require annual status reports from developers who evicted people under the law, to ensure they are not ignoring rent stabilization rules. Any new apartments constructed less than five years after rent-stabilized evictions must also be regulated, according to the law.

Ortega said the city should also back efforts to amend the Ellis Act at the state level. She wants the council to pass a resolution supporting an amendment to require a one-year notification to all  tenants facing Ellis Act evictions — not just to disabled and elderly ones, as the law currently reads. 

Scores of people filled City Council chambers Wednesday on what they declared the third annual Renters' Day to call for more renter protections.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">POWER members taking up a whole row plus for <a href="">#RentersDayLA</a> <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; POWER (@PeopleOrganized) <a href="">April 20, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script>

Some said they’ve been "Ellis’ed" or are about to be "Ellis'ed."

"I’m asking for you to take care of renters and tenants in this city," said Dee Ann Newkirk of Beverly Grove. She told the council's Housing Committee that the developer who bought her rent-controlled building has already torn down other nearby buildings. "We do not deserve to be evicted all in the name of profit and greed."

The developer - Wiseman Residential - did not immediately return a request for comment Wednesday afternoon.