L.A. City Council moves ahead with ‘just cause’ study

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A proposal to apply “just cause” eviction policies to non-rent-controlled housing in Los Angeles got a boost this week from the City Council.

At present, just-cause eviction requirements apply only to the city’s rent-controlled housing. But under a proposal gaining traction in L.A., just-cause would apply to the city’s entire housing stock, regardless of whether rents are regulated.

Despite opposition from the California Apartment Association, the council Wednesday directed staff to study the expansion proposal and report back in 30 days with possible next steps.

At that point, the council could direct staff to draft an ordinance on the proposal that could be approved on a separate vote.

Under just-cause policies, property owners and managers must base evictions on one of the city’s designated reasons for terminating a tenancy. They must also be ready to prove that reason during long and costly court battles. Making it difficult — or impossible — to evict problem tenants can drive down property values and have a chilling effect on residential development. In Los Angeles, this would exacerbate one of the city’s biggest problems — a lack of housing.

“Until we address that (housing shortage), you can try to control this, but I don’t think it solves anything,” Beverly Kenworthy, vice president of  CAA Los Angeles, told the Los Angeles Times.

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