New LA renter protections in the pipeline

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With apartments in short supply across Los Angeles, the city is moving toward providing more protections for tenants fearful of being pushed out of their units.  

The City Council’s Housing Committee this week backed proposed safeguards for tenants in L.A.'s 118,000 rent-regulated apartments.

One change would give these tenants the right to return to the building if the landlord decides to re-rent the units within 10 years of removing them from the market. City law says the time limit now is half that — five years. 

Another protection relates to relocation fees that tenants in rent-regulated apartments get when their units are turned into condos.

As it currently stands, landlords can ask tenants to waive their rights to these fees if a condo conversion is in the works — the idea being that these are short-term rentals. But the waivers have still been good, even if the conversion application gets denied or the landlord doesn’t convert the building for years.

The proposal would assure that all displaced tenants would get relocation fees, even under those circumstances.

Larry Gross, executive director of the Coalition for Economic Survival, said his advocacy group has been fighting to eliminate relocation fee waivers since before the recession. 

"Then the market went belly-up," Gross said. "Here we are 10 years later, finally about to get it removed, hopefully."

Hundreds of units are cleared each year in Los Angeles to make way for condos, as is allowed under the Ellis Act, the state law that gives landlords a way to exit the rental business.

The full council will vote next on the renter protections.  

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