Following claims of landlord harassment, council set to discuss protections for tenants

City leaders on Tuesday will consider a slate of measures intended to protect tenants following an increase in allegations of landlord harassment over the past few months.

Some of the claims allege that landlords have intimidated some to vacate their units, not conducted timely repairs to dwellings and abused their right to access the units, according to a memo from Councilwoman Mary Zendejas.

Zendejas’ proposal outlines 30 provisions that would protect tenants from illegal evictions, discrimination based on race among other protections.

Norberto Lopez, project director for Long Beach Residents Empowered, said he’s heard similar harassment claims from tenants he’s working with.

“It’s long overdue,” he said of the council’s action.

Lopez said Long Beach has fallen behind when it comes to providing protection for renters. He said that Los Angeles has implemented rent control and other tenant protections. Long Beach officials approved an eviction moratorium in May to keep families in their homes as the coronavirus pandemic carried on and recently voted to extend it. Lopez argued protections similar to those Zendejas is now proposing should have been included in the moratorium.

The California Apartment Association, a trade group that represents apartment owners, is concerned the ordinance is being rushed through the council.

Fred Sutton, the organization’s senior vice president for the Los Angeles County branch, said the organization denounces any form of harassment from landlords and property owners, and argued that stakeholders should be consulted before the item is decided.

“It should not be rushed through on urgency,” Sutton said.

The pandemic has also concerned tenant activists who are anticipating a wave of evictions following the recent judicial council rule to reopen the state’s courts.

Long Beach is a majority renter city. Tenants citywide often spend more than 30% of their income on rent, Zendejas’ memo states.

“Now more than ever we need to protect tenants,” Lopez said.

The City Council meets at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 1, via teleconference. To listen or comment, click here.

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