LA property owner says eviction moratorium due to pandemic has left him homeless

A Los Angeles property owner says the eviction moratorium currently in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic is preventing him from moving into one of his own rental units. Now, he's living out of his car.

"I was upset that the city of Los Angeles would suggest to me that I would go into a homeless shelter, when I own property in the city," said the man, who did not wish to disclose his identity.

He says he's going through a divorce, has been displaced and needs a place to live.

Despite owning a duplex in the West Adams District, he says he's forbidden from moving a tenant out of one of the units so he can move in.

He says his tenants have been paying rent, but added that the COVID mortarium on evictions prevents him from filing a declaration of intent to move a tenant out, so he can occupy one of his units.

He added that his property falls under rent control, which has left him with next to nothing after pouring large amounts of money into city-enforced upkeep of the property.

The Ellis Act passed by California in 1985 allows property owners to evict tenants from rent-controlled buildings as long as they sell the property, convert it into condominiums or let the building sit vacant for five years -- not a feasible option for the property owner in this case.

"We are asking for the City Council and for the legislature of the state of California to exempt small property owners like myself, mom and pop owners, those with five or less units who are not corporations, from all rent control restrictions," he said.

Victor Hairapetian, an attorney who represents tenants and property owners, says the property owner in this case could lawfully move the tenant out, but it would cost him upwards of $20,000 to help relocate the tenant. Money the owner doesn't have.

Hairapetian added that he doesn't have many options "unless that tenant says 'I'll get up and leave and, for instance, you can pay me that $20,000 over a year.'"

Various city agencies dealing with property ownership, rent control and COVID protections for renters would only say there are problems within laws regarding rights for tenants and property owners.
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