34 SEPTEMBER 2019 • WWW.AAGLA.ORG Local Advocacy Update While the Summer months reflected a general slowdown in legislative activity, some cities have implemented new regulations, such as Culver City which recently adopted an interim 3% rent freeze and related measures for an interim, 12-month period. As we move into the month of September, it is anticipated that issues such as “Right to Counsel” in the City of Los Angeles and continued risk of permanent rent control measures in more and more jurisdictions will be raised. Several localities such as Los Angeles County’s unincorporated areas, the City of Inglewood and most recently Culver City are all subject to interim rent freeze moratoriums, which may likely turn into more permanent measures. City of Los Angeles - Right to Counsel or Eviction Defense Discussions have continued with relevant city agencies and City Council members relative to a motion advanced by Council Member Paul Koretz for the establishment of a Right to Counsel ordinance and related eviction prevention programs. In September, it is anticipated that staff from the Los Angeles Housing and Community Investment Department (HCID+LA) will report back to the Housing Committee with their findings and recommendations for the city’s “right to counsel” ordinance. In April, our Association notified HCID+LA of our concerns and suggestions for establishing a more balanced right to counsel program that would concentrate on property owner and renter education and outreach, emergency rent subsidies, supportive services for renters at risk of homelessness, and mediation services to enhance communication between rental housing providers and renters and improve the living situation for both parties. We also advocated for extensive limits on “right to counsel,” including providing City paid legal assistance only to renters and rental housing providers based on need, with the threshold for assessing need set at a household income of either 200% Federal Poverty Level or 80% Average Median Income. Our recommendations set forth parameters for evaluating qualifying cases and qualifying attorneys. Furthermore, we recommended that any “right to counsel” program should advance a more effective and efficient eviction process, establish maximum time limits for cases, limit extensions and allow but not mandate jury trials. We advocated for exempting from the program rental property owners of ten or fewer units and senior owners as small rental housing providers generally do not have the resources to hire an attorney and would be placed at an unfair disadvantage if the renter is provided free legal representation. Under these circumstances, if legal counsel were to be provided to the renter, it should also be provided to the small, “mom and pop” rental property owner. We will continue to monitor this matter and provide updates. Los Angeles County – 3% Interim Rent Freeze Moratorium / Permanent Rent Control In April, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted (4:1) in favor of extending to the end of 2019 the interim “rent freeze” ordinance that limits annual rent increases to just 3% within the unincorporated areas of the county. Supervisor Barger was the sole vote in opposition to the extension. The Board of Supervisors also expanded the applicability of “just cause” eviction rules to all residential rental property, including single- family homes and condominiums. This means that when a property owner seeks to evict a renter, the owner will need to state a reason for the eviction that falls within the list of permissible reasons, such as non-payment of rent or renter’s refusal to grant reasonable access to the unit, LOCAL GOVERNMENT UPDATE By Danielle Leidner-Peretz, Esq., Director, Government Affairs & External Relations