Alert! Eviction by Ellis Act: Landlords Turning up the Heat on LA’s Renters

LA’S NEIGHBORHOODS - Classic questions:  “To be or not to be?” “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” and, increasingly, “Should I rent my building or evict the tenants and turn it into condos or a new development?” These days, many landlords are asking those questions and considering their options:  to continue renting to their tenants, or to use a law known as the Ellis Act to evict renters and reach for potentially bigger profits.

The Ellis Act provides a mechanism for landlords to remove tenants from rent-controlled units by taking those units off the rental market and converting them to condos … or tearing down the building for re-development. It’s a move that can benefit owners handsomely, while evicted tenants – forced to search for comparable housing in a very tight, very expensive rental market – are the inevitable losers, often unable to find new housing at comparable rates in a rapidly densifying city.

For tenants, the Ellis Act is a threat to affordable housing, favoring owners’ profits over reasonably priced rentals. And landlords are taking advantage of the option in rapidly increasing numbers. Buildings are being torn down across Los Angeles, stripping affordable housing from those who need it most. Many have no choice but to move to the cheapest real estate of all -- the sidewalks of Los Angeles – as they become new members of the ever-growing homeless population.

Landlords these days are being tempted by options to empty their buildings and significantly increase income from their properties. The law says they can. But society is starting to ask why we allow it. Landlords have rights…but tenants have needs for affordable housing. It’s a classic stand-off.

On Tuesday, July 21, you’ll have a chance to weigh in on this difficult subject. The Mid City West Community Council’s Planning and Land Use Committee (PLUC) will host a “California Ellis Act, Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Ordinance, and Los Angeles Small Lot Ordinance Open Forum Discussion.” Stakeholders from all neighborhoods are welcome, and all are encouraged to voice their opinions.

Cary Brazeman, Chair of the Mid City West Community Council’s Planning and Land Use Committee, says, “From the Beverly Center to Hancock Park, we are seeing tremendous interest from housing developers. On the one hand, it’s great that people want to invest in our area. On the other hand, the interest in redeveloping along our residential streets is leading to the demolition of many lovely old rental buildings and the displacement of the people who live there. What are the rights of tenants in these situations? What are the obligations of property owners? How should the city be leading? We will explore these issues at our meeting next week.”

NEED TO KNOW: 

MCWCC Open Discussion Forum on California Ellis Act

Tuesday, July 21, 2015 at 6:30 pm
543 N. Fairfax Avenue, just a few blocks south of Melrose Avenue.
Free parking is available in the NCJW lot that is accessed from the alley west of Fairfax.

  

(Tim Deegan is a longtime community leader in the Miracle Mile area of Los Angeles … and an occasional contributor to CityWatch.) Secondary editor: Linda Abrams.

-cw

 

 

CityWatch

Vol 13 Issue 59

Pub: Jul 21, 2015

 

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