Tenants facing eviction or other urgent matters often face an uphill battle, which the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly exacerbated. Fortunately, programs like Stay Housed LA are now available to connect tenants with legal assistance and resources. As the lead legal aid organization for Stay Housed LA, LAFLA is proud to represent vulnerable tenants and partner with like-minded organizations. Together we aim to increase access to legal help and ultimately justice for renters like Marvin Andrews (pictured above), a veteran with disabilities that prevent him from working.
Marvin, like many Americans, fell behind on his rent payments during COVID due to a variety of factors — including the deaths of a couple family members from COVID. “They didn’t have any insurance, and we had to bury them,” said Marvin. “It escalated from there.” He tried unsuccessfully to negotiate a payment plan with his landlord, who was aware of Marvin’s situation. Instead, the landlord tried to evict him from his South LA apartment, despite COVID-related tenant protections in place.
“’Eviction moratorium’ is a misnomer because evictions are still allowed to occur depending on the circumstances,” said LAFLA Attorney Kristine “Kristi” Ueda (pictured). “In nonpayment of rent cases like Marvin’s, tenants who have been financially impacted by COVID can be afforded temporary protections from eviction if they submit timely declarations to their landlords. However, this does not mean landlords will not still try to evict tenants anyway.”
Marvin applied for help through the Stay Housed LA website, and quickly connected with Kristine.
“I had applied for help everywhere but kept being told it was either too late or I’d have to wait,” said Marvin. “Once I applied for help through Stay Housed LA, Kristi reached out right away.”
Kristi negotiated a compromise with Marvin’s landlord: “Fortunately, I was able to negotiate a pay and stay agreement, which enabled Marvin to stay housed during this difficult time and ensured that this eviction action will not negatively impact his credit.”
“Without LAFLA, I would be homeless,” said Marvin. “It took LAFLA to get involved to work out a deal.”
Marvin has advice for other renters facing wrongful eviction: “Don’t give up — rely on places like LAFLA and Stay Housed LA. Seek out their help.”
To apply for legal help or get information about tenants’ rights, visit the Stay Housed LA website or call 888-694-0040. You can also apply for legal help on the LAFLA website or by calling 800-399-4529.