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Carson Homeowner Unable To Move Into New House Due To Pandemic Renter Protections

CARSON (CBSLA) - A Carson couple who purchased a home in June has been unable to move into their new house because a tenant from the previous owner has refused to leave.

Carson Home 1
Feb. 3, 2022 (CBSLA)

As it turns out, the tenant doesn't have to leave because the Board of Supervisors voted in January to extend most pandemic eviction protections through the end of the year.

According to Enrique Cardona and his wife, who live across the street from the home they own, it's the kind of house that people like to stop and look at.

"Everybody gawks at it. People almost get in accidents stopping to look at it," Enrique said, adding they often would sit on their porch and fantasize about what it would be like to own the home.

However, in June of last year, their wish came true when they purchased the property for a little over $500,000.

At the time, there were three tenants living in the home. Two of them moved out, but one remained.

"He basically said he wanted to stay here until February of this year, and I said, 'We can give you 30 [days],' and he said, 'No, I'm staying,'" Enrique said.

The tenant is protected by the county's eviction moratorium, which is set to run through the end of the year.

"My wife and inadvertently became landlords," Enrique said. "We have only been in this predicament for seven months. I feel the strain, but can only imagine what people feel who have had to do this for two years."

There are some cases where an LA County homeowner can evict a tenant during the moratorium, but if that tenant is low income, elderly or disabled, then the landlord has little recourse other than to wait or come to some sort of deal with the renter.

"But you will also pay relocation fees  and those relocation fees are based on the number of bedrooms and can range anywhere from $10,000 to $22,000," Eviction Attorney Melissa Marsh said.

The Cardonas' tenant is a low-income senior. Marsh said the only thing the couple can do is wait for the pandemic renter protections to expire.

"He can negotiate with the tenant and offer them maybe $50,000 and maybe he'll accept it," Marsh said.

There is a Housing is Key program where the state will reimburse landlords the back rent they're owed. Cardona did apply for that in September, but said so far he's not seen a dime.

"We are paying the property taxes and the mortgage and still, we can't do what we want with the property we purchased," he said.

County Board Supervisor Holly Mitchell, who represents Carson and voted to extend the eviction moratorium, provided CBSLA with the following statement regarding this situation:

"This pandemic has raised unprecedented hardships in different ways for different populations. Everyone has been asked to sacrifice in some way to protect us all from from even greater tragedies. The protections the county put into place have ensured that renters were not put out onto the street in the midst of the pandemic. Those protections are being phased out, and we have are continuing to balance effects on renters and effects on landlords. I know some people wish we were moving to phase out protections faster, but many, many low income and especially vulnerable elderly renters remain greatly at risk and we must keep seniors from losing their home during the pandemic."


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