Read The Letters SoCal Landlords Are Sending As Rent Comes Due In This Pandemic
Los Angeles is a region of renters: here in the county of 10 million, 54% of households rent.
The rental market — along with the rest of our economy — has been in absolute turmoil in the wake of COVID-19. Despite state and local moratoriums on evictions, millions of tenants are worried about making rent.
How are they navigating this shifting, confusing landscape? And what are they hearing from landlords?
We asked LAist readers to share letters they'd received from their landlords. Here's what we learned.
LANDLORD WANTS THE STIMULUS MONEY
One Los Feliz renter got this letter from landlord ROM Residential, which said tenants on a rent deferral plan needed to turn over "100%" of any government stimulus money towards back rent, within five days of receiving it.
Councilmember David Ryu blasted the notice, saying in his own letter that he was "extremely alarmed" and that ROM Residential's letter "demonstrates a lack of empathy." Ryu wrote that the stimulus provision was not correct and that the company's "attempt to extract the meager support working Angelenos might receive right now is shameful."
ROM Residential says it's all a misunderstanding — the letter was a draft and it has been revised to take out the language about stimulus money (you can read the revised version here).
In a phone interview, ROM Residential partner Leeor Maciborski told LAist, "We were really frustrated with the councilman's letter. It was unnecssarily harsh, he could have just called or emailed up and asked what was going on. It took that letter completely out of context, it wasn't meant for circulation. It was just unfair."
Maciborski added that "about a third" of renters at the company's 1,500 units had asked for rent deferrment.
RENT IS STILL DUE
This letter from a Woodland Hills property management company doesn't bury the lede, underlining its main point: "your rent is due on the first of the month without exception." The letter also addresses cleaning measures the company is taking, and guidance for tenants — like sterilizing door handles "several times a day".
LANDLORDS MIGHT CUT A BREAK — BUT THE RENT IS STILL DUE, EVENTUALLY
"We are facing an unprecedented crisis in this country," this letter from an L.A. landlord informs tenants. It details how renters can write the management company if their financial situation has taken a hit from COVID-19.
But it makes clear that rent money ultimately is due: "Any unpaid or deferred rent is not forgiven and is subject to repayment." (The coronavirus-related eviction moratoriums enacted by the state and city of L.A. require renters to pay back all rent eventually.)
RENT INCREASES ON HOLD
Newport Beach-based Hilbert Property Management informed L.A. County tenants that rent increases scheduled for April 1 "will not go into effect until further notice." It says that apartment owners have not received credit or aid "to pass along to residents."
NON-EMERGENCY MAINTENANCE IS ON HOLD
This letter to a Pomona renter says maintenance will continue to address "any emergency or life/safety issue that may arise." But other work orders have been suspended, and vendors will only enter units if residents "can confirm no one is currently or has recently been sick with the COVID19 virus."
ADDRESSING RUMORS ABOUT RENT RELIEF
Our LA-based colleague at NPR, Tom Dreisbach, shared this letter. About those rumors of rent relief: "nothing could be further from the truth."
Just got a remarkable email from my landlord (a property management company) on paying rent during COVID-19.— Tom Dreisbach (@TomDreisbach) April 3, 2020
They say they've heard from tenants asking if there's any "relief" from the obligation to pay rent, but "Nothing could be further from the truth."
cc: @a_mendelson pic.twitter.com/9wE7wEaqOY
A GIFT CARD FOR PAYING RENT ON TIME
One North Hollywood tenant sent us this email from their management company — dangling a $250 gift card as an incentive for tenants to pay rent, in full, on time.
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This post was updated on April 3 to add additional letters.