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California Extended Eviction Moratorium – How To Prepare?

JOSH DOMINGUEZ Aug. 5, 2021

On June 28, 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation to extend the state’s eviction moratorium through September 30, 2021 and clear rent debt for low-income Californians that have suffered economic hardship due to the pandemic.

Under Assembly Bill 832,California will significantly increase cash assistance to low-income tenants and small and lords under the state’s $5.2 billion rent relief program, making it the largest and most comprehensive COVID rental protection and rent relief program of any state in the nation.

AB 832 program now covers 100 percent of past-due and prospective rent payments, as well as utility bills for income-qualified tenants. AB 832 also allows tenants to access rental funds directly if their landlord chooses not to participate and ensures landlords can receive compensation even if their otherwise income-qualified tenants have already vacated a unit.

However, Katie McKeon, staff attorney at the Public Counsel Law Center in Los Angeles, which represents tenants, said it best, “ perhaps one of the greatest disservices that politicians and their staff had made through this whole process is using the term ‘moratorium’ because we have pretty much never had a true moratorium in the state of California.”

Despite these protections, tenants have been evicted throughout California and tenants still have an obligation to pay their unpaid rent. As such, the tenant will still owe back rent to their landlord. The laws only prevent the landlord from evicting a tenant who is unable to pay rent due to COVID-19 financial distress.

Beginning November 1, 2021, landlords can take tenants to small claims court to recover unpaid rent debt regardless of how much the tenant owes.

How Can Gomez and Simone Help?

If you are based in Los Angeles, Gomez and Simone can expertly litigate unlawful detainer cases (evictions). Our attorneys take care of all the appropriate research, negotiations, and motions that will earn you a favorable result for you and your family.

Here is what you need to know:

If you were unable to pay all or some of your rent between March 1, 2020 and August 31, 2020

  • If your landlord gives you a notice to “pay or quit,” they must provide a notification which explains your rights and obligations. (A notice to “pay or quit” is a notice from your landlord that gives you a certain amount of time to pay the outstanding rent you owe or vacate your home.)

  • You cannot be evicted IF you return a declaration of COVID-19 related financial distress, signed under penalty of perjury, and returned within 15 business days of receiving a notice to “pay or quit. ”Your landlord must provide this to you to complete and sign, and it must be in the language of your rental agreement if you entered into your rental agreement on or after September 1, 2020.It is very important that you provide the signed declaration within 15 business days or an eviction proceeding may be filed against you.

  • If your household income is more than 130% of the median household income (roughly $80,000 in Los Angeles County) in your county and more than $100,000, your landlord may demand proof of your COVID-19 related hardship be provided to support your declaration. There are several things you can use to satisfy this requirement, such as a tax return, pay stubs, and a statement from your employer, among other things.

  • If you are unable to provide the declaration to your landlord within 15 business days, you may still submit the declaration to the court for similar protections if you have a “good reason” for not providing it. ”Good reasons” include mistakes, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect as interpreted in the California Code of Civil Procedure.

If you were unable to pay all or some of your rent between September 1, 2020 and September 30, 2021

  • All of the same rights and obligations above apply.

  • In addition, by September 30, 2021, you must pay at least 25% of the rent due during the period of September 1, 2020 through September 30, 2021.You may do this by paying at least 25% each month, or by paying a lump sum equaling 25% of your rent during the time period, or by some other means. The key thing to remember is that – by September 30, 2021 – you must pay 25% of the rent due between September 1, 2020 through September 30, 2021.

Other Things You Need to Know

  • Until October 1, 2021, a landlord can only evict a tenant if they provide a legally valid reason.

  • It is illegal for a landlord to give a tenant a 30- or 60-day eviction notice without a stated reason. This is commonly known as a “no-cause” eviction.

  • The stated reason must match one of the valid reasons allowed by the law, a “just cause” eviction.

  • Existing local government eviction ordinances may remain in place until they expire, but they may not defer rent obligations beyond May 31, 2023.

  • Landlords who do such things as lock tenants out, remove personal property or shut of utility services to evict a tenant, rather than going through the required court process, could faces fines of between $1,000 and $2,500. These penalties are in effect until October 1, 2021.