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Advocates Say Emergency Eviction Rules Not Strong Enough In Long Run

A for rent sign is posted in front of an apartment building in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) (Justin Sullivan/)
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Politicians across the state have authorized new tenant protection rules to minimize evictions during the pandemic.

But many advocates are worried the new rules aren’t strong enough, and that without adjustments, homelessness in Southern California could just get worse in the coming months.

Key to the new rules is the provision that unpaid rent needs to be paid back after the emergency is over. But many tenants just won’t be able to do that, having lost jobs or because they were already poor before the pandemic, said Laura Raymond, who directs the equity advocacy group, ACT L.A.

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“How are they going to save up enough to be able to make up for all these lost months?” she said. “That's a huge, huge concern.”

If tenants can’t repay their rent, then it’s off to court. Though action taken Monday by California's Judicial Council has temporarily halted judgments in eviction cases, landlords can still file new eviction lawsuits.

Those cases will not go to court until 90 days after the COVID-19 emergency is declared over, but when they do, it will be up to tenants to defend themselves and prove they have been affected by COVID-19.

Gary Blasi, a professor emeritus at UCLA School of Law, says the result could be disastrous.

“There will be an enormous number of eviction cases, and a tsunami of homeless people who have fallen out of the economy,” he said.

If that happens, Blasi worries that L.A. could become “unrecognizable.”


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