A new ordinance adopted by the Hermosa Beach City Council provides renters in the city with protection against “no fault” eviction notices being issued in an attempt to raise a rental unit’s base rent before California’s new rent control law takes effect Jan. 1.

The new state rent control law, the Tenant Protection Act of 2019, limits annual rent increases to 5 percent plus inflation with the maximum set at 10 percent. It also prohibits evictions without “just cause.”

In response to an anticipated surge in rent increases and evictions in advance of the Tenant Protection Act going into effect, Hermosa Beach City Council adopted Urgency Ordinance 19-1399 on Nov. 18, effective immediately. The ordinance prohibits no fault evictions in Hermosa Beach through Dec. 31 for residential real properties built prior to Jan. 1, 2005. A no fault eviction is one in which the tenant has done nothing to lead to the eviction.

“We have already heard about Hermosa Beach renters facing eviction because of the change in state law,” Hermosa Beach Mayor Mary Campbell said. “This ordinance will help protect those tenants who might otherwise lose their homes for no reason other than the landlord is seeking to increase rents in advance of the change in state law.”

Hermosa Beach joins several California municipalities enacting similar tenant protections including Redondo Beach, Torrance, Los Angeles, Long Beach, Malibu, Pasadena and others.

Tenants can still be evicted for “just cause,” such as non-payment of rent, breach of a material lease term and criminal activities or use of the premises for an unlawful purpose. But if they have done nothing to legally warrant an eviction, Hermosa Beach tenants will be able to provide a copy of the Hermosa Beach ordinance to the court as an affirmative defense to oppose the eviction. Quick action may need to be taken as tenants served with an unlawful detainer lawsuit to evict may have as few as five days to provide a written response to the court.

Eligible tenants who believe they are being evicted unlawfully may contact the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles for free legal consultation and direct representation.

Organizations such as the Housing Rights Center (800) 477-5977) and ACCE (888) 428-7615) also offer tenant hotlines.

Contact this reporter at mhixon@tbrnews.com or on Twitter @michaeljhixon.com.

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