Rent Control Apartments Being Destroyed in Los Angeles

Rent Control Apartments Being Destroyed in Los Angeles

California’s Ellis Act has triggered evictions in Los Angeles and San Francisco, as rent-controlled units are being converted to condominiums, apartment buildings, or groups of single-family homes. 

The law states that property owners can evict residents if they turn the property into a non-rental property or destroy the building and start over. The unintended consequences of rent-control have triggered a blowback.

In 2013, Los Angeles property owners filed papers to get rid of 378 rent-controlled units, as opposed to 2012, when 40% fewer requests were made. That in itself is not making a huge dent; there are roughly 638,000 rental units in Los Angeles. But Larry Gross, executive director of the Coalition for Economic Survival, said, “The people who make Los Angeles run — such as the hotel workers, the service workers, the teachers and the bus drivers and the regular working people — are being run out of Los Angeles.”

After February 1, 1995, California rescinded the right to use rent control for newly-built rental units. In Los Angeles, rent control laws bar annual rent increases for people who live in multi-family buildings built before October 1978.

In 2007, Los Angeles landlords evicted 1,352 households from rent-controlled units; in 2013, they evicted 250. Enter the Ellis Act, and renters are furious. The California Apartment Association called the Act a safety valve for landlords. Beverly Kenworthy, executive director of the association’s Los Angeles branch, charged, “You cannot make somebody be a landlord. If they want to get out of that business, this is the mechanism to do so.”

Much of the action that has resulted from the Ellis Act has been made by recent owners; in Los Angeles, 51% of the rental control units that filed to be changed in 2013 were purchased within 12 months of the request.