Daily Breeze

LA officials offer form letter for tenants to tell landlords they can’t pay rent during coronavirus crisis

It’s available in English, Armenian, Korean, Chinese, Spanish, Russian and Tagalog.

Los Angeles city leaders have adopted temporary measures to protect tenants against evictions if they cannot pay rent because of hardships endured during the coronavirus outbreak. But it will be up to renters to inform their landlords ahead of time — or within  seven days after rent is due — that they are unable to make payment.

To help Angelenos through that process, city housing officials have posted a fact sheet, form letter and guide for residential tenants on drafting a notice to landlords. It’s available in English, Armenian, Korean, Chinese, Spanish, Russian and Tagalog.

Under the city’s rules, residential tenants cannot be evicted for non-payment of rent because of pandemic-related financial challenges. Tenants could be shielded if they lost income from their workplace being scaled back or closed, or if their household expenses — such as for healthcare and childcare — have increased due to COVID-19.

The city’s ordinance also bars eviction of tenants due to “unauthorized” residents in a dwelling, having pets or or some other nuisance reasons brought on because of the COVID-19 crisis.

Tenants still need to pay back the rent, and would have 12 months after the end of the local emergency declaration to do it.

Tenants for whom the protections do not apply are still obligated to pay rent, under the city’s rules.

Tenants can file complaints by calling (866) 557-7368 on on the website and housing officials will investigate.

Some city leaders recently pushed for a stronger, blanket ban on evictions, arguing that the existing protections are difficult for the average Angeleno to navigate. But that effort failed, after proponents could not get sufficient votes from their colleagues during a 12-hour-long City Council meeting last Wednesday.

Existing protections require tenants to understand the protections clearly and only gives them a defense in court if their landlord moves forward with an eviction complaint. Tenants do not need to immediately provide their landlord with documentation supporting their claim, but housing officials encouraged renters to gather and retain such documents in case they are needed in court.

These protections are just for LA city residents. The county has its own protections, explained here.

The city’s evictions protections also apply to commercial properties; tenants are allowed three months after the end of the local emergency to pay back rent. That ordinance can be found here.