The number of Ellis Act evictions in LA rose again in 2016

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The number of rent-controlled units in the city of Los Angeles stripped from the market under the Ellis Act rose in 2016, carrying on a trend that started after the economic downturn. Last year, the number of “Ellis’d” units rose to 1,372, according to the Coalition for Economic Survival. That’s an increase of nearly 27 increase from 2015, when they totaled 1,075.

The Ellis Act allows owners of rent-controlled properties who want to demolish their buildings or get out of the rental business to evict tenants. It’s estimated that approximately 85 percent of the city of Los Angeles’s rental housing stock is rent-controlled.

The Coalition for Economic Survival’s findings, based on Los Angeles Housing and Community Investment Department data, demonstrate that these evictions are on a continued “upswing,” Larry Gross, executive director of the coalition, told Curbed.

In a city with a severe housing shortage and a high percentage of renters who pay more than the recommended 30 percent of household income on rent, the uptick is disheartening.

Gross says there are a number of ways the state could protect renters against Ellis Act evictions, including eliminating the act or amending it to require building owners to wait five years after purchasing a building before invoking the Ellis Act. In 2013, at least half of the buildings cleared out under the Ellis Act occurred in buildings that had been purchased within the previous year.

Locally, he suggested that city officials could be more proactive about giving developers incentives to build on vacant or city-owned lots and more aggressive about discouraging demolition or conversions of rent-controlled units.

The uptick in evictions began in 2009. More recently, they rose 40 percent between 2012 and 2013, and again the next year, when landlords evicted tenants from 308 rent-controlled apartments. In 2014, the number shot up to 725 apartments.

They hit an all-time high in 2005, near the peak of the real estate bubble. That year, 5,425 rent-controlled units were cleared out.

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