May 18, 2024 5:08 pm

Los Angeles County Implements Updates to Rental Housing Inspection and Enforcement Policies

Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors tentatively approved revisions to its rental housing inspection program and enforcement policies on Tuesday, with a final vote scheduled in 30 days. The changes include mandating inspections every four years for all rental units in unincorporated areas and imposing penalties for landlords who fail to address deficiencies.

The updates encompass an overhaul of the Rental Housing Habitability and Rent Escrow Account programs. This includes authorizing staff to execute service contracts necessary for program implementation and conducting outreach and education for both renters and landlords.

Under the newly backed ordinances, all rentals will undergo routine inspections every four years under the Rental Housing Habitability Program, in addition to complaint-based inspections. Furthermore, adjustments to the Rent Escrow Account Program will permit rent reductions for properties that fail to promptly rectify habitability violations.

Properties with unresolved code violations may be placed into the Rent Escrow Account Program, requiring tenants to pay rent into a withheld account until issues are resolved.

The proposed changes align with inspection and enforcement procedures existing in the city of Los Angeles since 1998. They aim to streamline and broaden the county’s inspection process while ensuring compliance with state and county habitability standards.

The implementation will introduce a county housing program chief responsible for administering and enforcing the programs, with the Rent Escrow Account Program aimed at holding violators accountable.

Inspectors under the Rental Housing Habitability Program will assess units for various issues, including waterproofing, plumbing, ventilation systems, mold, and infestation.

In the initial year, fees will cover enforcement costs. The Rental Housing Habitability Program includes an annual fee of $86 per unit, which landlords may pass on to tenants.

Supervisor Kathryn Barger expressed support for the ordinances but voiced concerns about additional financial burdens on small landlords. She emphasized the need for resources to support landlords facing repair costs.

Supervisor Janice Hahn noted the plan’s responsiveness to renters and landlords, emphasizing its fairness and reward for property owners maintaining their properties.

While renters supported the changes, the California Apartment Association raised concerns over the administrative burden and cost structure for compliant housing providers. They suggested alternative inspection time frames and cost assessments for properties with a history of compliance.