Proposed Laws Aim to Make Renting Easier, Protect Tenants

Vacancy Rate For U.S. Apartments Reaches Highest Rate In 20 Years

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A series of proposed laws intended to help and add more protections for renters was introduced today to the Los Angeles City Council.

One motion, co-filed by City Councilmen David Ryu and Mike Bonin, seeks changes to how the Ellis Act is enforced in Los Angeles in order to limit evictions. Ryu's other proposals would create incentives to build more middle- income housing and request expanding eligibility for the California Renter's Tax Credit.

“We are in a lopsided housing crisis that continues to develop homes for those at the top while ignoring the rest,” Ryu said. “This crisis is not only driving low-income and working families into homelessness, it's also putting middle-class Angelenos at risk.”

Ryu claimed the state's Ellis Act, which provides methods for landlords to opt out of the rental market, has been taken advantage of over the years, leading to a decrease in affordable rental units.

“The state's Ellis Act, intended to help mom-and-pop property owners get out of the rental business, has been exploited by developers seeking to demolish longtime, rent-controlled rental units to build new market-rate units, luxury units or high-end condominiums,” Ryu said. “Since 2001, nearly 25,000 rent-stabilized units in the city of Los Angeles were destroyed under the Ellis Act.”

The proposed law would increase the tenant relocation assistance that funding developers are required to pay tenants evicted under the act, and it would seek to increase the percentage of required affordable housing replacement, which requires new buildings to include 20 percent affordable housing.

Ryu's motion would also prohibit landlords who evict tenants under the Ellis Act from receiving density bonuses and other incentives for constructing new buildings, and it requests a report on rentals that are at risk of eviction.

“Our affordable housing crisis is deep, and Ellis Act evictions are a big part of that, causing the loss of tens of thousands of rental units,” Bonin said. “We need to examine any and all tools and ideas to address the harmful repercussions of the Ellis Act, and this legislation is an important first step in the process, which will offer information and guidance for how we can best protect renters from unfair evictions.”

The second motion from Ryu introduced looks to create incentives for middle-income housing, which Ryu said is not defined sufficiently by the city's Planning Department.

The third piece of legislation introduced by Ryu is a resolution to support expanding the state's Renter's Tax Credit to people who spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent, for a primary residence.

“We provide thousands of dollars in tax breaks to homeowners, while renters only get 60 bucks,” Ryu said. “This disparity doesn't reflect our values, our economic reality nor the needs of most Angelenos. If we want a middle class in Los Angeles, we need to build for it, and we need to protect it.”

Ryu's housing motions will be heard in the city council's Housing Committee, and the Renter's Tax Credit changes will be heard in the Rules, Elections and Intergovernmental Relations Committee.

Photo: Getty Images

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