The mounting economic hardship of landlords has prompted advocacy group Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles to file a lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles asking the court to annul the city's recent housing moratoriums.

The association represents 10,000 members, the landlords of some 150,000 units throughout Los Angeles proper including the San Fernando Valley.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday, challenges the legality and constitutionally of the city’s moratoriums on tenant evictions and rent hikes imposed on landlords of commercial and residential real estate after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Defendants are the city of Los Angeles, the city council and Mayor Eric Garcetti.

The association argues that the economic burden stemming from the pandemic’s job losses was put squarely on the shoulders of building owners by the new rules. The lawsuit further asserts that the city’s eviction ban illegally modifies existing contractual relationships by nullifying any late fees or interest while the emergency declaration is in place and throughout the one-year period following the end of the emergency.

“The city’s eviction moratorium goes far and above Gov. (Gavin) Newsom’s eviction moratorium and has caused severe financial strain on the city’s housing providers by forcing them to provide what is, in effect, interest free loans and making them private welfare providers to the city’s renters,” said association Executive Director Daniel Yukelson. “The eviction ban is being challenged now because there’s no apparent end in sight on if or when the city, mayor or city council will lift the local emergency declaration.”

Yukelson characterized the bulk of his members as independent “mom and pop” owners existing month to month without corporate-scale financial backup. Meanwhile, the landlord trade group reported 20 percent drops in rent collection in May and further drops for June.

“Many of these owners are not only struggling to meet the financial obligations of maintaining and managing their rental property, they have been struggling to provide housing, food and clothing for their families,” he added.

The Business Journal reached out to the office of L.A. City Attorney Mike Feuer for comment, but did not hear back by press time.

In the lawsuit, the association asks the court to declare “null and void” the city’s actions and issue an injunction to prevent enforcement of the moratoriums, plus financial awards for damages.