By Bill Hendrickson
It took a pandemic, but two Eagle Rock seniors living under threat of eviction for more than a year have gotten a reprieve.
Ramona Sierra, 91, and her 66-year old neighbor, Suzanna Bermudez, have lived in their rent-controlled bungalows at 4542-4544 Eagle Rock Boulevard for 41 years and 10 years, respectively. In December 2018, they learned that the new owner of the bungalows was proceeding with re-development plans that could lead to their eviction. They asked city planning officials for help to avoid eviction, but the officials said their hands were tied by the state’s Ellis Act, which lets an owner evict tenants when a building is converted from rentals to units for sale.
The reprieve for Sierra and Bermudez came on May 7, when the City of Los Angeles strengthened tenant protections against eviction and rent increases in the wake of the coronavirus. Among the protections, “tenancies may not be terminated in order to demolish, convert or withdraw a residential rental unit from the rental housing market under the Ellis Act until one (1) year after the expiration of the declaration of emergency.”
When I called Bermudez on Thursday to talk about the new protection from Ellis Act eviction, I thought I would be breaking the good news to her. But she and Sierra were already informed. They have stuck together to keep track of any news or developments affecting their situation. “All is well here,” said Bermudez, noting that she had not heard from the owner.
Other renter protections during the local emergency period include prohibitions against “No‐fault” evictions, which include evictions that occur when an owner moves into a unit or installs a resident manager. Additionally, tenants may not be evicted for having unauthorized occupants, pets or nuisance as a result of circumstances related to Covid‐19. Another tenant protection states that all rent increases for properties subject to the Rent Stabilization Ordinance are prohibited until one year after the local emergency expires.
Click here for a summary of residential tenant protections.