The Ellis Act is a California state law that allows landlords to evict tenants in rent-controlled units if they are planning to “go out of business.” The public excuse for the law was that it would protect small “mom and pop” landlords who wanted to retire. In actual practice, it is used almost exclusively by corporate landlords and developers to flip buildings and tenants out of rent stabilization. They then either demolish the buildings, convert them into condos or boutique hotels, or list vacated units on Airbnb illegally.
To take advantage of the Ellis Act, a landlord must evict all tenants in the building while offering some modest relocation payments. The LA Tenants Union has found that landlords often avoid the relocation payments by threatening tenants with Ellis Act filings and by harassing them into leaving.
Altogether, more than 20,000 rent-stabilized apartments (with more than 60,000 residents) have been lost since 2001, thanks to the Ellis Act. There are probably thousands more tenants that have been displaced due to indirect effects like threats and harassment. The law has contributed immensely to the worsening housing crisis in California.
Housing is a human right! We demand the repeal of the Ellis Act!