CA’s Eviction Moratorium Must Include Ellis Act

by on December 15, 2020

David Chiu’s Constituents Still Face Ellis Evictions

Earlier this year, the California legislature passed the COVID Tenant Relief Act, which enacted protection from eviction for all residents, including evictions for failure to make rental payments. But these current and proposed statewide tenant protections have a glaring omission: they fail to stop  Ellis Act evictions.

San Francisco Assemblymember David Chiu recently introduced legislation to extend this eviction moratorium through the end of 2021. While it is absolutely necessary for our statewide eviction moratorium to be renewed, it is also clear that our moratorium must include Ellis Act evictions. Without the inclusion of Ellis Act evictions in our statewide eviction moratorium, we will see thousands more Californians left without a home in the middle of a pandemic.

Ellis Act evictions have displaced tens of thousands of renters and taken thousands of rent-controlled units off the market in the past two decades. Even before the pandemic, the Ellis Act had become one of the biggest obstacles to addressing the housing crisis in California. The Anti Eviction Mapping Project shows that between 1994 and 2019, over 5300 households have been forced out of their homes in San Francisco. Similarly, in Los Angeles, over 27,000 rent-controlled units have been taken off the market due to the Ellis Act. Yet, our lawmakers continue to ignore this crisis.

The Ellis Act has become a cruel loophole that allows real estate speculators to evict all of their tenants in the midst of a pandemic. The Tenderloin Housing Clinic is currently working with over 250 individuals in San Francisco that are facing evictions due to the Ellis Act. There is no doubt that there are similar cases occurring all across the state. It has never been more clear that we need immediate action from our California legislature to bring an end to these evictions.

Some cities have halted Ellis Act evictions through their own eviction moratoriums. Los Angeles implemented theirs back in March, while Berkeley passed an Ellis Act ban just last week. Nevertheless, citywide action on Ellis Act evictions is simply not enough. In fact, halting these evictions on a citywide level may not even be able to hold up against legal action. Thus, it is absolutely necessary that the state legislature addresses the inevitable rise in pandemic era Ellis Act evictions by including a ban in the COVID-19 eviction protection extension legislation.

Sign on to the Tenderloin Housing Clinic letter urging the State Legislature to ban Ellis Act evictions during the pandemic here.

Sarah Abdeshahian works for the Tenderloin Housing Clinic as a statewide organizer for housing and tenant issues.

Filed under: Bay Area / California