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Housing and Homelessness

Why A New Law That Extends Statewide Eviction Protections Has Many LA Tenant Advocates Upset

A person holds a handwritten sign on a poster board that reads: # Eviction Free L.A.
A sign at an August 2020 protest in L.A.
(Valerie Macon
AFP via Getty Images)
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Just one day before statewide rules against eviction were set to expire, California lawmakers voted to extend protections through the end of June. And Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, who is the acting governor while Gavin Newsom is on vacation, quickly signed the bill into law.

"California’s nation-leading rent relief program has provided much needed relief for more than 220,000 households across the state," said Kounalakis, who became the first woman in state history to sign legislation into law. "Today’s action will provide additional time to thousands more who are in the process of acquiring emergency relief.”

However, many tenant advocates in Los Angeles aren’t happy about the passing of Assembly Bill 2179. That’s because the new law — while providing protections for rent relief applicants throughout the state — strips stronger protections from many tenants in L.A. County by superseding a new county ordinance.

Lawmakers said they passed the bill in response to the fact that, about a year into California’s rent relief program, most applicants still have not received funding. Once signed into law, the extension would continue protecting applicants from eviction through June 30.

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However, the law offers no protections to renters who miss the state’s March 31 deadline to apply for rent relief. Tenants who fail to apply before April 1 could face eviction proceedings over non-payment of rent as soon as Friday.

That’s a marked contrast to the stronger protections passed by L.A. County’s Board of Supervisors in January. That local law, set to take effect April 1, was written to protect more renters from eviction — even those who didn’t apply for rent relief — through the end of this year.

By overriding the county law and other local ordinances around the state, AB 2179 “will have devastating consequences for L.A.County renters and families outside the city [of Los Angeles],” statewide renters’ rights group Tenants Together said in a tweet.

The state law does not affect the ongoing eviction protections in the city of L.A., where renters hurt by COVID-19 can continue deferring rent until 2023. But county residents who live outside the city no longer have the protections they’ve been told to expect.

Tenant advocates say Sacramento’s last-minute vote will create confusion and put many households at sudden risk of eviction.

What questions do you have about housing in Southern California?

Updated March 31, 2022 at 3:53 PM PDT
This story updated with the legislation being signed into law.