California Eviction Moratorium Extension: What Benefits for Tenants? | New

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California tenants, who still struggle to pay rent even as the pandemic subsides, will be protected from eviction until September 30, under a last-minute deal announced today by Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders.

The deal, which more fully opens up $ 5.2 billion to fully reimburse rent and rent in the future, could become law as early as Monday if approved by the Assembly and Senate. Newsom said he was eager to sign the bill before existing protections expired on June 30.

In statements, Newsom and the legislative leaders who negotiated the new protections said they would prevent families from slipping through the safety net as California reopens from COVID-19 and the economy recovers. “This proposal avoids a cliff of mass eviction, allowing us to keep tenants in their homes and get landlords the financial support they need,” Housing Assembly Speaker David Chiu, a Democrat, said. of San Francisco who put in place the initial moratorium.

While advocacy groups representing tenants and landlords have said they have been left out of negotiations – as in the last two rounds of negotiations – both sides managed to get some key arrangements they wanted. Here are some key elements of House Bill 832:

Tenants would have a defense in court if their landlord evicted them for non-payment of rent until September 30. They must always submit a statement that they are unable to pay the full rent and pay at least 25% of their monthly rent between September 1, 2020 and June 2021, or in bulk, by September 30, to avoid l ‘expulsion.

“If you receive 15 days’ notice and fail to provide the declaration form to your landlord before the 15 day notice expires, you could be evicted,” the bill says.

Additional documents, such as a bank statement proving a decrease in income, might be required in cases where a landlord has proof that the tenant is earning certain income.

Tenants will always have to respect their lease in order to avoid eviction for reasons other than non-payment of rent.

Rent default evictions could resume on October 1, but people earning less than 80% of the region’s median income and financially affected by COVID would still have six months to apply for rent assistance funds. If the request for rent relief is accepted, the eviction process will be blocked and landlords may receive compensation for unpaid rent. If the tenant is not eligible, however, the process will continue.

Lupe Arreola, executive director of Tenants Together, said that while the additional legal protections look good in theory, they may not work in real life. “We say this is wishful thinking. We say it won’t happen.”

So what about the money? The bill states that tenants, as well as their landlords, will be able to ask for 100% of retroactive rent and up to three months rent at term. Previously, without landlord approval, a tenant was only entitled to 25% of missed rent payments.

It was a key request from tenant advocates and a source of concern for landlords, who said the provision would be abused. Tenants who receive rental assistance will admit under penalty of perjury that they will use the money to pay the missed rent.

If the landlord is still trying to evict the tenant for non-payment of rent, the court can verify whether the tenant received state dollars. If they have paid the full amount to the owner, the eviction will be blocked.

The bill also prevents evictions for non-payment of rent from appearing on a tenant’s record, which impedes the ability to rent in the future.

The tenant’s household income must be equal to or less than 80% of the region’s median income in 2020 or 2021. These income brackets vary by region. Tenants with an income below 50% will be given priority. Help is available to tenants regardless of their immigration status.

Local jurisdictions distributing rental relief may, however, have different rules; at the last fundraiser in Los Angeles, for example, a two-person household couldn’t earn more than $ 45,050.

The bill extends eligibility to tenants who may have moved out of their homes during the pandemic, who were not previously covered. They can now claim arrears of rent owed to a previous landlord.

Landlords will not be able to evict tenants for non-payment of rent until September 30. To file an eviction complaint after that, the landlord must provide proof to the court that they have applied for rental assistance. The case can only continue if the tenant does not complete his application or is not entitled to assistance.

Homeowner groups, who hoped that the protections would not be extended further, are frustrated by this provision.

“While there is some recognition of this distress in the agreement providing 100% rent assistance and requirements for tenants to use the funds to pay rent, we are very concerned about when this moratorium will actually end, ”Christine LaMarca, president of the California Rental Housing Association, which represents more than 20,000 homeowners, said in a statement.

Landlords will still only be able to evict tenants for a substantial renovation if it is necessary to comply with health and safety standards and if the owner of the property sells it to a buyer who intends to occupy the property. They cannot, for example, sell to someone who intends to rent the place.

Those restrictions could be tighter in some localities, such as Los Angeles, which passed a local moratorium earlier this week. But under the bill, other cities would not be able to pass stricter rules until March 2022, a provision supported by the California Apartment Association.

Landlords would be able to charge 100% of the rent before and after the rent. The previous law provided that a landlord could claim 80% of missed rent payments and would have to forgive the remaining 20%; the new invoice means that even those who only requested a partial refund will receive the missing funds.

If both a landlord and a tenant have requested funds, the money will go directly to the landlord. It will only go to the tenant if the landlord refuses to participate in the program.

But the California Apartment Association said the state moratorium extension and the latest federal extension through July announced Thursday would not be necessary if rent relief money was paid to landlords and tenants.

“It is frustrating that the State of California and many local governments have not disbursed funds quickly to those who need it, especially the owners of rental housing for moms and dads who haven’t seen any rent payments. but still have to pay the mortgage, insurance and taxes., maintenance and other expenses, “association president Tom Bannon said in a statement.

The protections are tied to dollars; and a lot of them. The state approved an additional $ 2.6 billion in rent assistance, plus an existing $ 2.6 billion, all from federal relief funds. That’s $ 5.2 billion available to cover missed back rent and up to three months rent term.

An analysis from PolicyLink, an Oakland-based research group, suggests that about 758,000 California households are in arrears with rent and owe a total of $ 3.5 billion.

This money has slipped away. While billions have been available since January, the state has distributed only $ 61.6 million in aid from its kitty to just over 5,000 households so far.

“The linchpin in all of this is the billions of dollars we have from the federal government,” Brian Augusta, legislative advocate for the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, told CalMatters. “We urgently need to fix whatever has slowed the flow of this money to a trickle.”

And to accelerate the deployment of rent relief, the agreement includes deadlines. According to Senate Democrats, the proposal says state agencies, cities and counties that received the first round of $ 2.6 billion in January 2021 must spend it all by September 30, 2022. They must spend the entire second round of $ 2.6 billion by September 30. 30, 2025.

All of this means that while tenants will be protected from eviction, the full amount of rent relief does not have to reach tenants or landlords for several years. But to protect themselves from evictions, tenants should apply for the funds as soon as possible.

Several cities, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, have reported that demand for rental assistance far exceeds availability. The bill says that unspent funds will be redirected to the places that need it most.

The bill also grants large cities and counties the ability to administer their own rental funds, instead of having to rely on the state to administer part of it. This was an important request from local governments.

This item first appeared on CalMatters Network and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.


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