Is the Bay Area Ejection Heading for a Tsunami or Drizzle? To rent courtyard crowds or aid programs? Mass displacement of tenants or slow return to status quo?
California’s eviction moratorium expires on September 30, clearing the way for landlords to begin evicting tenants for failing to pay rent during the pandemic. About 7% of California tenants are behind on rent, with an estimated $3.5 billion in debt, according to an analysis released in August by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. And unemployment is still higher than it was before COVID.
But removing a tenant during a still volatile and evolving pandemic would be more complex, costly and time-consuming than in pre-COVID times. Landlords will get the right to evict tenants for nonpayment, but tenants can also take advantage of limited protection through March by applying for rent relief from the state.
Advocacy agencies, state housing officials and non-profit social agencies are ready to help navigate the tenant-landlord relationship under the many requests for assistance and new state law.
Why did the state impose a moratorium?
Public health experts argued at the start of the pandemic that keeping people in stable housing would slow the spread of the deadly virus. Governor Gavin Newsom announced an emergency shelter-in-place declaration on March 19, 2020. Emergency measures curbed displacement and homelessness in the early days of the pandemic and offered leniency for renters as unemployment soared and the economy faltered. And an eviction ban continued in various forms, including some eviction hearings in state courts and a California Supreme Court-sanctioned moratorium on two legislative extensions before the end of this month.
What changes for landlords?
Landlords have been allowed to evict tenants during the pandemic under certain limited circumstances: for seriously poor behavior, health and safety concerns, or if they have plans to sell property or relocate a family member. Is. Non-payment cannot be a ground for eviction. If a tenant gave an affidavit she was affected by COVID.
From October 1, property owners will be able to file for eviction as a tenant is owed rent for the past one year. Landlords must show that they have applied for state or local rental assistance programs for the tenant, and are either denied (possibly because the tenant has earned too much money to qualify for assistance) or the tenant. had not filled his part of the relief application.
If a tenant has paid at least 25% of pandemic-due rent by September 30, he is usually protected from eviction. But the rent missed next month can be tantamount to a pre-pandemic offense and increase the risk of a tenant being displaced.
What changes for tenants?
Tenants may again face up to 3 days’ notice, starting with October’s missed rent, giving them a strict deadline to pay or court proceedings starting in earnest. But families have a powerful weapon in the face of displacement—through the state, in Housing Is Key, or through the various local programs found in San Jose, Oakland, San Francisco, and Fremont for rental assistance. Apply.
A tenant can show the landlord that he has applied for assistance and prevent legal action. If a tenant’s assistance application is denied, lawyers can move on. According to state law, a tenant cannot be evicted for debt accrued between March and August 2020, although the landlord can sue in small claims court to recover the money.
An approved aid application will prevent evictions for nonpayment, said Jane Wong, housing attorney at the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley. “Our strongest recommendation is that they apply,” she said.
Will there be a sudden surge in evictions and homelessness?
Lawyers representing tenants and landlords suspect that property owners will go to the courthouse and file eviction cases. The legal process is more complex than pre-COVID regulations, and probably a burden most landlords would not want to bear on their own. The California Apartment Association recommends its members hire an attorney to navigate the process. Tenant advocates also recommend legal advice.
CAA’s Debra Carlton said most landlords simply want to pay past rent. “I don’t think there’s going to be an eviction tsunami.”
Will the Emergency Rent Assistance Program Help Cope with Displacement?
The $5.2 billion California relief program, funded by the federal government, was designed to preserve housing for tenants and help landlords pay their mortgage, property taxes and other expenses. California has allocated an additional $2 billion to cover unpaid utilities. Newsom increased rental reimbursement for landlords from 80% to 100%.
In theory, the influx of public money into the rental market should help renters settle their debt and keep their apartments. But the program has been marred by a complicated application process, a myriad of local programs with different eligibility requirements, and confusion and hesitation from both landlords and tenants.
The state has distributed $584 million to landlords and tenants out of the $2.6 billion requested from state funds as of the end of September. local program, San Jose, like Oakland, Fremont and San Francisco, are not included in the tally.
The CAA is urging cities and counties to hand over the administration of local aid programs to the state. San Jose, San Francisco and Los Angeles have recently delegated their responsibilities.
Housing officials on all sides acknowledge that the process of paying back loans, preventing evictions, and obtaining assistance to landlords is complex and can vary from city to city. Landlords are encouraged to hire lawyers, and struggling tenants should seek help from local nonprofits and social agencies for specific help.