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10/25/2019

L.A. OKs urgency ‘just cause’ ordinance as AB 1482 stopgap

The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday approved an urgency ordinance intended to prevent no-cause evictions until AB 1482 takes effect, a move that several other California jurisdictions are also considering.  

The Los Angeles ordinance is intended as a stopgap until the Jan. 1 implementation of AB 1482, the newly signed statewide rent control and “just cause” eviction law. Mayor Eric Garcetti signed the temporary legislation Tuesday afternoon. 

“Our city is experiencing a housing crisis, and we should be using every available tool to keep people in their homes, and runaway rents in check,” the mayor said in a statement, as reported by the L.A. Times.  “This ordinance is an important stopgap measure that will prevent evictions before the new state law takes effect.” 

Several other California jurisdictions are preparing to do likewise. On Monday, the Redwood City and Daly City councils are scheduled to vote on stopgap ordinances, and the city of Burbank and Sacramento County are also weighing possible action. Milpitas, a San Jose suburb, approved a stopgap just-cause ordinance last week. 

Los Angeles’ urgency ordinance will require landlords to show a qualifying cause, such as failure to pay rent, before terminating tenancies in units that will be covered by the just-cause provisions of AB 1482. 

To avoid confusion in the rental housing industry, the California Apartment Association successfully lobbied the city to make sure L.A.’s urgency ordinance mirrors the just-cause provisions of AB 1482. 

“With AB 1482 taking effect in just over two months, we wanted to make sure that the urgency ordinance mirrors the just-cause provisions in upcoming state law,” said Fred Sutton, CAA’s senior vice president for Los Angeles, as reported in this Courthouse News Service story. “We appreciate that the city recognized the need to be consistent between the two sets of rules. Requiring owners to learn two sets of policies for a span just over two months would have caused needless confusion.” 

Under both the urgency ordinance and upcoming state law, the just-cause protections generally cover multifamily housing and corporate-owned single-family homes that are at least 15 years old. Moreover, the protections apply in these buildings if the tenant has been in place for at least a year. If, however, a roommate is added to the lease before a tenant has occupied the unit for 24 months, the just-cause provisions won’t apply until all the tenants have occupied the unit for 12 months or any have occupied the unit for 24 months. 

Multifamily housing built before Oct. 1, 1978, is already covered by the just-cause provisions of the city’s existing rent control law.  

Los Angeles and some other cities began exploring a stopgap measure over concerns that some landlords were filing evictions to sidestep the provisions of AB 1482.  

In addition to just-cause policies, the statewide legislation includes a cap on annual rent increases for covered housing set at 5% plus the change in the consumer price index.   

The state law’s rent cap will apply retroactively to March 15. Come Jan. 1, any rent increase given since March 15 that exceeds 5% plus CPI must be rolled back to conform with the rent cap. Landlords, however, won’t be required to refund rent collected beyond the limitations of AB 1482 if accepted before Jan. 1.   

Los Angeles’ action today comes one week after the city of Milpitas, a San Jose suburb, passed its own just-cause urgency ordinance. Redwood City in the Bay Area and Burbank near L.A. are among other cities considering following suit.   

--CAA RENTAL REPORT