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Home | Newsroom | Housing | She fought remodel evictions for years. Now she’s the one being evicted.

She fought remodel evictions for years. Now she’s the one being evicted.

From Lopez’s perspective, the rules allowed landlords looking to raise rents to evict tenants for minor upgrades or remodels that never happened once the tenant was gone. Her work helped push Long Beach to impose regulations on such evictions and influenced a recent change in state law aimed at tightening restrictions on them.

Then late last year, not long after a new owner bought the duplex Lopez has lived in since she was 6 years old, she was handed an eviction notice of her own. The reason? Substantial remodel.

“My heart just sank,” Lopez, 32, said of the moment when she got the notice.

Maria Lopez began to get involved in fighting substantial remodel evictions when she started hearing about a number of evictions soon after the 2019 law was approved. She met tenants at apartment complexes across Long Beach who had been served with notices to evict and began working with them to try to stop the evictions.

The issue gained urgency during the pandemic, when advocates say it appeared that some landlords were using the rules to get around eviction moratoriums.

At a Long Beach City Council meeting in 2021, Lopez pleaded with officials to adjust the law.

“Many tenants are being kicked out for minor cosmetic repairs like cabinet or tile replacement, not substantial remodels,” Lopez was quoted as saying in the Signal Tribune. “Please, I beg you, I implore you, keep our families housed.”

That year, in response to advocates, the city temporarily banned substantial remodel evictions. Later, it moved to begin tracking remodel-based evictions, increase relocation assistance for displaced renters and allow for penalties for landlords who violate the law. This year, the state also tightened rules, including making it clear that tenants cannot be evicted for minor cosmetic repairs.

Lopez was proud of the accomplishment but felt remodel-based evictions should have been banned outright.

Last August, she learned that Dr. Femi Akinnagbe, a family medicine doctor, had bought the property she has lived in for nearly three decades.