By Elizabeth Marcellino
City News Service

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted Tuesday, June 22, to extend a local eviction moratorium through Sept. 30, while warning that such protections will begin to be phased out.

Supervisor Sheila Kuehl recommended the extension — which she said is protecting tens of thousands of residents from eviction — and also acknowledged that small landlords are struggling and need assistance.

“No one should be made homeless by this crisis,” Kuehl said, promising a “thoughtful phase-out in a way that doesn’t jeopardize the success we’ve had.”

The local moratorium applies where it does not overlap with state protections for residential tenants unable to pay rent due to COVID-19-related financial stress. It covers commercial evictions, no-fault evictions and prohibits ousting tenants for unauthorized occupants, pets and other nuisances.

Supervisor Janice Hahn said she had considered an amendment limiting the moratorium to tenants who had applied for state and local rent relief, but said she didn’t believe such a motion would pass.

“There are two sides to this equation,” Hahn said, adding that she wanted to “make sure that our mom-and-pop landlords do get the rent they’re owed.”

The motion was ultimately passed with multiple amendments, including a call for county lawyers and staffers to report back on the ability to make protections conditional on good-faith efforts to apply for rent relief.

Supervisor Kathryn Barger underscored landlords’ concerns.

“The moratorium has now been in place for almost a year and a half. Throughout that time, small property owners, folks who have saved their whole lives to buy a rental unit, elderly persons who use rental income to pay for their current care … have faced a lot of significant challenges,” Barger said. “It is incumbent that we find a way to phase out the eviction moratorium, but based on what I’m hearing, now is not the time.”

Kuehl acknowledged that the state is focused on providing rent relief to ease the burden of both tenants and landlords, but said the application process is overly complicated.

The state is working to improve the process, but Kuehl said those changes could take some time.

Supervisor Holly Mitchell was more direct in her criticism.

“I don’t think that we as a county should wait for the state to figure it out,” Mitchell said, urging support for continuing local protections for both landlords and tenants.

Mitchell also warned that the local housing crisis existed before the pandemic and would not end anytime soon.

“Many communities will continue to struggle for years,” Mitchell said.

The board’s vote lifts a prohibition on evictions in the case of landlords or family members moving back into a single-family home, subject to certain conditions. Such evictions will require at least 60 days notice and will only be allowed when the renter is able to pay rent and has not been impacted financially by COVID-19.

They will also only apply in cases in which the profile of the owner or family member matches that of the existing tenant — elderly tenants may only be evicted if the landlord or incoming family member is also elderly and low-income tenants may only be evicted if the landlord or incoming family member is also low-income, for example. The same requirement applies for disabled tenants.