Landlords suing City of Los Angeles over eviction moratorium

City Attorney Mike Feuer expressed confidence Monday that the city would prevail in a $100 million lawsuit filed by a building-management company claiming severe losses due to Los Angeles' eviction moratorium to protect renters during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"My office wrote a sound and lawful ordinance protecting vulnerable tenants from becoming homeless during the pandemic," Feuer said in a statement Monday afternoon. "We defeated a previous attack on these crucial protections and will vigorously defend the ordinance again."

GHP Management Corp. – which manages several large apartment complexes including Da Vinci, Ferrante, the Medici and the Orsini – is owned by developer Geoffrey Palmer. Other companies owned by Palmer joined the lawsuit. G.H. Palmer Associates owns more than 15,000 apartments in the Southland.

(Mary Stringini)

While Los Angeles County's eviction moratorium is set to expire Sept. 30, the city's moratorium is tied to its Emergency Declaration from March 2020, which is in effect until further notice. People who can't pay rent due to the pandemic cannot be evicted for at least 12 months after the local emergency period expires.

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"While the eviction moratorium ostensibly protects tenants who are unable to pay rent due to circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic, it arbitrarily shifts the financial burden onto property owners, many of whom were already suffering financial hardship as a result of the pandemic and have no equivalent remedy at law," the lawsuit stated.

Landlords in Los Angeles are eligible to receive rent relief for back rent owed by tenants who couldn't pay due to the pandemic. The city has received 113,000 applications and has about $235 million to distribute, with another $260 million expected. However, at the current pace, the program won't complete payments for 18 months.

Councilman Kevin de Leon introduced a motion Friday to speed up the timeline for landlords to receive back rent, with Oct. 1 as the goal.