Tenants in greater LA market owe $1B in unpaid rent, study finds

Estimated debt to landlords comes in the wake of new tenant protections

Empty wallets shutterstock_1752540641Delinquent tenants in the greater Los Angeles market owe an estimated $1 billion in unpaid back rent as the city enforces new renter protections.

Los Angeles is among a handful of cities across the state to extend some pandemic-era protections barring some evictions, the Wall Street Journal reported. 

Meanwhile, unpaid back rent across greater L.A. could exceed $1 billion, according to estimates by National Equity Atlas, which based its figures on Census surveys, according to the newspaper. It wasn’t clear if the figures covered Los Angeles County, or included a five-county region outside the city.

The Atlas is produced by Oakland-based PolicyLink and the USC Equity Research Institute at the University of Southern California, according to its website.

In January, the City of Los Angeles greatly expanded protections for renters, heading off a potential wave of evictions at the end of its pandemic eviction moratorium.

It also extended a prohibition on evicting tenants for having unauthorized pets or occupants in their apartments. In addition, it renewed a rent freeze on rent-controlled apartments until next year. 

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The city also expanded universal “just-cause” eviction protections to hundreds of thousands of apartments and single-family homes, preventing L.A. landlords from arbitrarily evicting tenants.

Landlords are no longer allowed to evict tenants in any rental property, including single-family homes, unless there was unpaid rent, documented lease violations, owner move-ins or other specific reasons. The provision starts after six months or when a lease expires, whichever comes first.

“As we work to bring Angelenos inside, we also have to work to prevent Angelenos from falling into homelessness,” Mayor Karen Bass said last month about the renter protections.

California landlords, who have sued local governments over eviction laws, say there is no longer any pandemic justification for many renter protections, according to the Journal.

In some cases, landlords say, tenants have taken advantage of the laws as an excuse to not pay, straining small operators who may own only one or a handful of units.

In Los Angeles, landlords can now evict most tenants who fail to make multiple rent payments.

But the court process can take so many months that it has sometimes been easier to forgive rent debts just to get the tenant to leave, Scott Brody, a property manager who oversees a portfolio of 3,500 apartments in the city, told the newspaper.

Some landlords have even paid delinquent tenants cash to get them out, property managers and attorneys said. 

Source: The Real Deal