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The plight of California’s small landlords

California’s pandemic-driven, multi-billion-dollar rent-relief program was created to make up for landlords’ lost rent payments. Two years later, renters in Southern California remain delinquent in their rent payments, and landlords are falling deeper into their respective financial holes. A $5.2 billion rent-relief program has protected renters from eviction.

A lack of funding

However, landlords owning single properties have yet to see funds they desperately need, with some seemingly shut out from help promised to them or failing to meet the stringent requirements to qualify. Other landlords are disqualified because they are generating income above the allowed amount. Those who submit applications have tenants who refuse to comply, an important aspect of the process.

All this is occurring as businesses in other industries, and without mask mandates, are resuming their thriving operations. Individual property owners lack the resources their larger corporate counterparts have, specifically the ability to secure evictions, even for tenants receiving approval for government rent relief.

Nearly 700,000 households are past due on rent

A 2021 study from UC Berkeley’s Terner Center for Housing Innovation revealed that most small apartment dwellings nationwide (four units or less) are not owned by corporations but by individuals who do not have the financial means to survive years of non-payment.

According to U.S. Census Bureau data, in Los Angeles alone, nearly 700,000 households are past due on their rent. While non-paying tenants are nothing new, eviction rules practically enable bad tenants who ignore their financial problems and put them on the shoulders of their landlords. In addition to past due rent, attorney costs and apartment cleaning expenses puts many in a deeper financial hole.

State and local mandates still protect Los Angeles tenants. While technically ending on April 1, city and county rules could continue until 2023 or longer.