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Some Homeowners Say They're Victims Of Eviction Moratorium Rules As LA County Considers Extension

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is expected to consider extending the county's eviction moratorium set to expire at the end of the month on Tuesday, but some homeowners say they have been the unintended victims of the well-intentioned law.

Korri Olsen Homeowner
Korri Olsen and her toddler look over a wall at the home they haven't been able to move into after buying it last year. (CBSLA)

"It's hard," Andrea Jimenez said. "My husband is a veteran with PTSD. He's been having a very hard time with it."

Jimenez, her veteran husband and young daughter have owned their Highland Park home since December 2019, but have not been able to sleep a single night in the house.

"We've had to couch surf," Jimenez said. "We've had to live with different families."

Lori Arche and her husband have offered the tenant in their multi-million dollar Long Beach home $30,000 to vacate the property, but he refuses to leave — sending them his $7,000 rent check every month and stating in an email that he "[does] not intend to vacate until it has either become a legal requirement or until [he chooses] to do so of [his] own accord."

"I'm guessing that it'll mean that we'll be in this state of limbo for even longer," Arche said.

And Korri Olsen and her family, which includes a toddler, cannot even do an interview from the grounds of their Lakewood home — which they purchased last year — because the previous tenant would not give them permission.

"Right now we are living in one of my parents' bedrooms," Olsen said.

All three families purchased their homes right before or during the pandemic and have been unable to evict the previous tenants due to local, state and federal moratoriums.

"I am paying the mortgage," Jimenez said. "I'm paying all the bills for someone to live for free, and I cannot even, I can't live in my home."

And while county supervisors are expected to vote Tuesday on whether to extend the moratorium by three months, they are also considering carving out an exemption for owner-occupied evictions, meaning the homeowner wants to move into the property.

"I know there's a lot of people that need help during this eviction moratorium, and they need help for housing, and I hope they get it, but I also know that there are so many people that just want their homes they are paying for," Olsen said.

However, owners wanting to evict tenants have to meet certain criteria under the proposal. If the tenant is over the age of 62, disabled, terminally ill or low income, the owner or a family member moving in must also be elderly, disabled, terminally ill or low income. The landlord must also provide 60 days notice and relocation fees.

"The recommendation to extend the eviction moratorium is primarily driven by the need to ensure that families and residents do not fall into homelessness because they are unable to pay rent due to the financial hardships brought on by COVID-19," Supervisor Hilda Solis said in an emailed statement. "We also recognize that there are small landlords and homeowners who are looking to settle into their homes purchased during the pandemic and want to ensure they can move back into their primary residence while ensuring that no one who is experiencing financial hardship gets displaced."

Another issue with the carveout is that it will not cover homeowners in the city of Los Angeles, like Jimenez, which has its own moratorium.

"It does mess with you knowing that you are a homeowner, but you have no right over your home because the city has taken your house hostage and they won't to give it back to you," she said.

The women said they did not oppose the moratorium, but said they feel that they are victims of the pandemic too.

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