Courts Deny LA Apartment Owners' Challenge To City Eviction Moratorium
An attempt by apartment owners to overturn the city of Los Angeles' coronavirus pandemic-prompted protections for renters has failed.
U.S. District Court Judge Dean Pregerson denied the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles’ motion for a preliminary injunction against the city’s protections for renters during the public health emergency.
AAGLA filed a lawsuit against the city in June over renter protections, but it also filed a motion for an injunction in September.
In the motion, AAGLA argued that, through its safeguards for renters against evictions, the city had fundamentally changed the landlord-tenant relationship and violated AAGLA’s constitutional rights in the process. Pregerson disagreed.
“Although it appears at this stage of proceedings that the city moratorium substantially affects landlords’ contract rights, the manner in and extent to which it does so appears reasonable under the circumstances,” Pregerson wrote in his ruling. “AAGLA has not, therefore, demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits of its constitutional claims.”
In order to get the injunction, AAGLA needed to convince the court that without it, AAGLA would suffer irreparable harm and that an injunction was in the public interest. Pregerson said AAGLA did not succeed in demonstrating either.
“This was a vital victory because our eviction moratorium is preventing thousands of tenants from losing their homes in the midst of the pandemic," said City Attorney Mike Feuer, who was the first to publicize the court's decision.
Feuer acknowledged that assistance from the federal government is sorely needed for tenants affected by COVID-19.
"[They need it] so they can pay their landlords and remain housed while our nation's jobs market recovers,” he said.
Also pleased with the ruling were Strategic Actions for a Just Economy and the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment Action, tenant advocacy groups that intervened in AAGLA's ongoing lawsuit against the city to ensure that renters were included in a case that would greatly affect them.
“The governing bodies of Los Angeles have a responsibility to protect the most vulnerable among us during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, where having housing is a matter of life or death,” Public Counsel senior staff attorney Faizah Malik, who represents both groups, said in a statement.
Failing to secure the injunction was a setback but not an ending, AAGLA said.
“The decision by the lower District Court is certainly disappointing,” AAGLA Executive Director Daniel Yukelson said in a statement. “But we are certain that the existing legal precedent compels an invalidation of the City’s moratoria and higher-level courts are in a far better position to address this.”
AAGLA said it has prepared to appeal an unfavorable ruling should the need arise.