Tuesday marks the deadline for tenants in Los Angeles to pay back the rent they couldn’t pay during the COVID-19 pandemic, and tenant advocates are wary of a spike in homelessness during the city’s current housing crisis.
The rent due on Aug. 1 is for the first year and a half of the pandemic.
Many renters said they simply don’t have the ability to pay thousands of dollars in the next 24 hours and that they are starting to worry about being evicted, but landlords claimed that they have been waiting for the money for 18 months and can’t wait much longer.
“Wages are not comparable to the rents,” said one tenant at a rally. “We know that [Karen Bass] did a lot last week for the unhoused, but we are going to have many, many more unhoused if we don’t have a permanent eviction plan in place.”
Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass will be holding a press conference on Monday to discuss both landlord and tenant rights and what resources might be available to renters who don’t have the money to pay all their back rent by Tuesday.
The mayor is expected to talk about her spending plan, which includes $18 million set aside for short-term emergency assistance programs and $23 million for legal representation.
According to legal experts, there isn’t too much that the landlords can do.
“The most that the landlords can do is take their claim to Small Claims Court and ask that the tenants pay the debts as normal consumer debts, and not grounds for eviction” said Raymond Hovsepian, a landlord and tenant attorney.
Back rent not paid between October 2021 and January 2023 is due at a second payment deadline in February 2024.