LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- For millions of Californians, making rent is impossible during the coronavirus pandemic. There are temporary protections against eviction in place, but what happens when those protections expire?
Some say it could lead to a wave of evictions like we've never seen before.
For two and a half years, 30-year-old Edward managed to earn a living as a background actor, paying $2,000 a month in rent for his Echo Park apartment. But that all changed when COVID-19 shut down Hollywood productions.
State and local governments established emergency eviction protections that have helped renters like Edward stay in their apartments, for now. But he worries what he'll do if he still doesn't have a job when those protections end and his landlord demands rent.
"The next few years are going to be really challenging for tenants," said attorney Cynthia Chagolla with Bet Tzedek Legal Services, a non-profit that offers free weekly eviction prevention clinics.
Chagolla says Los Angeles renters could face what advocates are calling an "eviction tsunami," several waves of thousands of unlawful detainer filings.
"We are going to be dealing with the consequences of this for probably years to come," she said.
In Los Angeles, the City Council approved a $100 million renters relief program to help those struggling with the economic impacts of the pandemic.
According to a recent study from the UCLA Luskin Institute on Inequality and Democracy, about 365,000 renter households in Los Angeles County are in imminent danger of eviction once a judicial council order halting evictions is lifted.
The study also found that approximately 120,000 households in L.A. County will likely become homeless soon after. And, without a massive increase in legal services, most tenants will face evictions within weeks, simply because they won't be able to file a sufficient legal response.
In California, the judicial council emergency protections expire 90 days after Gov. Gavin Newsom lifts the state of emergency. But Chagolla says there are steps renters can take now to prepare for that:
Edward turned to Bet Tzedek for help and says he has taken away some lessons.
"If your landlord is presenting you with something like that, you do not have to sign it and I didn't know that until I was talking to Bet Tzedek.
In the event that you do receive an unlawful detainer notice, a legal method of evicting tenants when the rent is no longer being paid, seek legal assistance immediately as you may just have five days to respond to the court.
And, if possible, bring a lawyer with you to the court proceeding.
California lawmakers are looking at legislative options to head off the coming waves of evictions, including one proposed bill that would give tenants ten years to repay rent.
Meantime, housing advocates are working on funding efforts to be able to provide legal services to the thousands of people who will need assistance in the coming months.