PRESS RELEASE: Ellis Reform Moves Forward

Los Angeles - The Housing Committee approved a motion today introduced by Councilmembers Ryu and Bonin that seeks to reform how the Ellis Act is enforced in Los Angeles. The Ellis Act, a state law passed in 1985, allows landlords to evict tenants in order to go out of the rental business, and has been used to “flip” affordable apartments into condominiums and other projects. Though the City of Los Angeles is unable to stop Ellis Act evictions without State action, it can change some of the requirements landlords must meet in order to “Ellis out” a tenant. 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  

October 23, 2019

 

Contact for Councilmember Ryu:

Mark Pampanin

mark.pampanin@lacity.org

213.407.7616

 

Contact for Councilmember Bonin:

David Graham-Caso

david.grahamcaso@lacity.org 

213.473.7011

 

ELLIS REFORM MOVES FORWARD

Los Angeles - The Housing Committee approved a motion today introduced by Councilmembers Ryu and Bonin that seeks to reform how the Ellis Act is enforced in Los Angeles. The Ellis Act, a state law passed in 1985, allows landlords to evict tenants in order to go out of the rental business, and has been used to “flip” affordable apartments into condominiums and other projects. Though the City of Los Angeles is unable to stop Ellis Act evictions without State action, it can change some of the requirements landlords must meet in order to “Ellis out” a tenant. 

“We can and must do more to protect our renters and affordable housing stock,” Councilmember Ryu said. “This means increasing the affordable housing requirements in new housing, and increasing relocation assistance for displaced tenants. This means giving the City the power to acquire at-risk apartment buildings to protect the tenants that live there. Most of all, it means doing everything we can in Los Angeles to stem the tide of displacement and stop the bleeding.”

“Tens of thousands of families are being thrown out of their homes, and we need to be aggressive and creative in our efforts to stop it,” said Councilmember Mike Bonin. “The Ellis Act is causing a major hemorrhage of our affordable housing, and until the State repeals or reforms it, we are determined to explore and try anything to restrict its application or lessen its horrendous impacts.”

This motion, if approved by Council, would seek options to increase the relocation payments made to tenants displaced by the Ellis Act. At present, landlords who use the Ellis Act to evict tenants are required to pay them relocation assistance, which varies depending on a tenant’s length of residency in a particular unit. 

The motion also calls for tenants to have the right of first refusal on new units built where their previous units were demolished, and that these units be made available to them at below market rate. It also seeks options for increasing the affordable housing requirement, currently at 20 percent, for new building construction, and options for making sure developers seeking to benefit from affordable housing or density bonuses do not put the affordable housing units they are legally required to build toward meeting an incentive threshold. In other words, if a developer wants to qualify for an affordable housing incentive, they would need to build affordable units on top of the amount already required by law.

Finally, the motion seeks options for the City to acquire affordable units that are at-risk of being destroyed or taken off the market. 

“The Ellis Act is responsible for the loss of over 26,000 rent controlled affordable housing units in the City of Los Angeles since 2001 and it is rising daily. This represents over 26,000 households that have been displaced from their homes and likely now are paying double or triple the rents they were paying far from the neighborhoods they lived in. We will never build our way out of our affordable housing crisis, unless we also preserve our existing affordable housing at the same time. The Ellis Act must be amended or significantly amended by the State Legislature. In the meantime, this motion attempts to address this crisis within the powers the City still maintains,” said Larry Gross, Executive Director for the Coalition of Economic Survival (CES).

"While action is still urgently needed at the state level to address Ellis Act evictions - which are leading to homelessness throughout LA County -  there are various municipal policies that local cities can take to protect tenants. We urge LA City to evaluate and pursue a variety of options to reform the Ellis Act and protect at-risk properties, as well as pursue other tenant protection and preservation strategies,” said Laura Raymond, Director of Alliance for Community Transit- LA (ACT-LA).

Advocates from ACT-LA and CES attended the Housing Committee meeting today to voice their support.

With approval in Committee today, the motion now heads to City Council. 

Read the motion here.

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Los Angeles City Councilmember David E. Ryu represents the 4th Council District which includes Griffith Park, Sherman Oaks, Toluca Lake, Hollywood, Hollywood Hills, Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Miracle Mile, Hancock Park, Windsor Square, Larchmont and portions of Koreatown and Van Nuys. 

 For more information about Councilmember Bonin, please visit www.11thdistrict.com.


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