LA Renters Will Get Stronger Eviction Protections Starting In July. Here’s What You Need To Know
Throughout the pandemic, navigating tenant protections in Los Angeles County has been a high stakes game. Losing puts you at risk of homelessness. But good luck figuring out the rules. They’re often incomprehensible — and constantly changing.
For millions of Angelenos, those rules are about to change yet again.
Starting Friday (July 1), low-income tenants throughout the county will regain protections from eviction if they can’t pay rent due to COVID-19.
The new rules will provide a stronger defense for many L.A. renters who’ve been vulnerable to eviction since April, when a last-minute change in state law temporarily revoked the county’s protections.
“This is something that has unfortunately disadvantaged many tenants between April and June of this year,” said Trinidad Ocampo, director of housing and homelessness prevention programs for Neighborhood Legal Services of L.A. County.
Those weaker statewide protections are set to lapse on Friday. But renters in L.A. County are not regaining all the rights they enjoyed in earlier phases of the pandemic. The new rules have evolved. Here’s what you need to know to assert your rights.
How L.A. Eviction Protections Will Change On July 1
The biggest change taking effect on July 1 will be the return of L.A. County’s eviction protection for low-income tenants unable to pay rent because of COVID-19 illness or the economic fallout caused by the pandemic.
Tenants in some areas, such as the city of L.A., already have this protection. But on July 1, that protection will be available countywide.
If, for example, a low-income restaurant worker in Pomona was unable to pay their June rent because they caught COVID-19 and lost income while staying home to recover, they could have faced eviction. But come July, that same worker could avoid eviction by telling their landlord that they qualify for this protection.
In order to use the protection, tenants must give landlords notice within seven days of the rent becoming due. The County’s Department of Consumer and Business Affairs provides templates in English and Spanish that renters can use to give notice to their landlords.
The county’s non-payment eviction protection is scheduled to last from July 1 through the end of 2022.
Keep in mind, the returning protection does not apply to non-payment of rent in April, May or June — it only covers non-payment from July forward. Tenants can still face eviction for failing to pay rent during those previous three months. Ocampo said qualified tenants who are struggling to catch up should prioritize repaying rent from April through June before July rent.
Before Invoking This Right, Check Your Income
This protection comes with one significant new caveat.
In earlier phases of the pandemic, the county extended non-payment eviction defense to all L.A. County renters, regardless of income.
Now, it’s only available to households earning up to 80% of the area’s median income. That means families of four earning $95,300 per year or less will qualify for protection, but a family of four earning more will not.
The county has an online chart here showing the income limits for households of different sizes.
Though the county’s new rules apply to fewer households, tenant advocates cheered the return of non-payment eviction protections.
“We think it is very significant,” said Ocampo, who has seen families still struggling to recover from long spells of unemployment. “Any type of protection that allows a tenant to affirmatively defend themselves against a non-payment of rent eviction is incredibly helpful.”
Why Are The Rules Changing Now?
This change is coming because a state law that big-footed the county's protections is set to expire after June 30, meaning the county’s stronger rules can now return.
A quick history lesson: L.A. County passed an extension of its own eviction protections early in 2022, and those rules were supposed to remain until 2023. But a couple months later, state legislators stepped in and overrode the County’s protections with their own law.
Starting in April, the state’s weaker eviction protections took precedent. They were only available to L.A. tenants who applied for rent relief before the state’s March 31 deadline. Tenants who failed to meet that deadline — or who only started falling behind on rent in April, May or June of this year — were suddenly vulnerable to eviction.
Alex Flores, an eviction defense attorney with the L.A.-based Housing Rights Center, said the state’s law created a three-month gap in eviction protections.
“Once April hit, it was kind of like open season,” Flores said. “We had a lot of evictions and a lot of individuals who were scrambling.”
But now, that state law is going away, and L.A. County’s rules are coming back into effect on Friday.
Other protections will continue under L.A. County’s rules, such as a ban on rent increases for tenants living in rent-controlled apartments within unincorporated areas of the county.
No-fault evictions will continue to be prohibited in most cases, though landlords will now face fewer barriers to evicting a tenant for the purpose of moving a family member into their unit.
Protections Remain In The City Of L.A.
The state law supplanted the county’s protections for the last three months, but it did not override protections in the city of L.A. Those are still set to continue moving forward.
L.A. city renters unable to pay rent due to COVID-19 will continue to have protections against eviction. And those living in rent-controlled apartments will continue to be protected from rent increases.
However, these protections are always subject to change. The L.A. City Council has begun discussing the possibility of phasing out the city’s eviction protections, and County Supervisor Kathryn Barger has echoed concerns from landlords who say continuing these rules harms local property owners.
Ocampo, the Neighborhood Legal Services attorney, said for now, the county’s protections are slated to last until the beginning of 2023. But with protections constantly in flux and about 17% of L.A.-area renters currently behind on rent according to the U.S. Census Bureau, she’ll be keeping an eye out for any changes.
“Nothing has been stable or consistent,” Ocampo said.