Eviction Moratorium

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 smalllandlords 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, “[p]erhaps 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.

FAQ:

WHAT IS THE L.A. COUNTY TEMPORARY EVICTION MORATORIUM?

The Los Angeles County Temporary Eviction Moratorium, effective March 4, 2020, through September 30, 2021*, unless repealed or extended by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, places a Countywide ban on evictions for residential and commercial* tenants, including mobile home space renters. Under the County’s Moratorium, tenants may not be evicted for COVID-19 related nonpayment of rent, as well as no-fault reasons, nuisance, denying entry to a landlord, or unauthorized occupants or pets – if related to COVID-19.

*Note: Between October 1, 2020 and September 30, 2021, the County’s Moratorium will not apply to residential tenants facing eviction for nonpayment of rent due to COVID-19 related financial hardship, as they are covered under the state’s eviction moratorium. We will continue to update this information if additional state and federal legislation passes affecting the County’s Moratorium.

HOW DOES THE TEMPORARY MORATORIUM WORK?

RESIDENTIAL TENANTS

Residential Tenants (including mobile home renters) covered under the County’s Moratorium must notify their landlord, through a self-certification within seven (7) days after rent is due, unless extenuating circumstances exist (i.e., sudden hospitalization).

Between October 1, 2020 and September 30, 2021, Residential Tenants must comply with the certification requirements established in Assembly Bill (AB) 3088, Senate Bill (SB) 91, and AB 832 in order to be protected from eviction. If a residential tenant’s inability to pay rent is not directly related to COVID-19, they may be protected under the CDC Order and should comply with the certification requirements under that order.

For more information on AB 3088, SB 91, AB 832, and the CDC order, please visit:

AB 3088/SB 91/AB 832 –  www.housing.ca.gov

CDC Order – click here*

*Note: A federal appeals court ruled Friday that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) exceeded its authority by temporarily halting evictions amid the pandemic. In a unanimous ruling, a three-judge panel of the Cincinnati-based 6th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with a lower court that the agency had overreached with its eviction moratorium, which is set to expire at the end of July.

COMMERCIAL TENANTS

Commercial tenants are responsible for providing notice to their landlord if they are unable to pay rent due to financial impacts related to the COVID-19 pandemic within seven (7) days after rent is due, unless extenuating circumstances exist. Tenants with nine (9) employees or fewer may self-certify their inability to pay rent to their landlord, either orally or in writing. Tenants with ten (10) or more, but fewer than one hundred (100), employees will need to provide written documentation that demonstrates inability to pay rent due to financial hardship related to COVID-19 to their landlord. If they are able to do so, Tenants are encouraged to pay partial rent during the Moratorium.

WHAT PROTECTIONS DOES THE COUNTY’S MORATORIUM INCLUDE FOR RESIDENTIAL TENANTS AND MOBILEHOME SPACE RENTERS?

Prohibits evictions for:

  • Nonpayment of rent due to COVID-19 related financial hardship for residential and commercial tenants*;
  • No-fault reasons including but not limited to substantial remodels or demolition of property, except where a Landlord who owns a single-family home intends to move into the home for their or their family member’s use as their principal residence;
  • COVID-19 related violations due to unauthorized occupants or pets;
  • Nuisance, or;
  • Denying entry to a landlord

Prohibits rent increases or new pass-through for:

  • Rent-stabilized units in unincorporated Los Angeles County subject to Chapter 8.52.050 of the County Code and
  • Mobile home spaces subject to Chapter 8.57.050 of the County Code.
  • Prohibits imposing or charging late fees, interest, and any related charges for unpaid rent by residential tenants* accrued during the Moratorium Period.

*Note: From October 1, 2020 – September 30, 2021, the County’s Moratorium will not apply to residential tenants facing eviction for nonpayment of rent due to COVID-19 related financial hardship. Prohibition against late fees, interest, or other charges does not apply to residential tenants during this time period. 

WHAT IF MY LANDLORD STILL TRIES TO EVICT ME?

The County, State, Federal protections, or a combination of each of these may provide an affirmative defense if a Tenant is served with an unlawful detainer (formal eviction notice) or is facing other civil actions for unpaid rent accrued during the Moratorium due to COVID-19 related financial hardship. Tenants are not required to move unless a Sheriff has served a Notice to Vacate.If you are based in Los Angeles, call Gomez and Simone, APLC, at (855) 439-0077, so we can expertly litigate unlawful detainer cases (evictions).

UNDER WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES CAN A LANDLORD EVICT A TENANT FROM A SINGLE-FAMILY HOME DURING THE COUNTY’S MORATORIUM PERIOD?

As of July 1, 2021, the Los Angeles County Temporary Eviction Moratorium allows a landlord who purchased a single-family home on or before June 30, 2021, to evict tenants if the landlord wishes to move into the single-family home they own, and intend to use as their or a qualifying family member’s principal residence for at least thirty-six (36) consecutive months.

A landlord may only evict the tenant if certain conditions apply. However, landlords are required to provide at least sixty (60) days’ notice to tenants and provide additional time if either party is diagnosed with COVID-19, as well as provide relocation assistance as required by the County’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance or the incorporated city’s applicable ordinance.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky has signed an extension to the eviction moratorium further preventing the eviction of tenants who are unable to make rental payments. The moratorium that was scheduled to expire on June 30, 2021 is now extended through July 31, 2021 and this is intended to be the final extension of the moratorium*.

*Note: A federal appeals court ruled Friday that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) exceeded its authority by temporarily halting evictions amid the pandemic. In a unanimous ruling, a three-judge panel of the Cincinnati-based 6th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with a lower court that the agency had overreached with its eviction moratorium, which is set to expire at the end of July.

On June 25, 2021, the Biden Administration announced an extension of the foreclosure moratorium for federally-backed mortgage loans (the “Presidential Announcement”). To implement the Presidential Announcement, the federal agencies (i.e., HUD/FHA, USDA, and VA) and GSEs (i.e., Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) have announced (or are anticipated to announce) extensions of the foreclosure moratorium until July 31, 2021.

Qualifications for the moratorium’s protections include having an expected 2020 income of $99,000 or less for individuals or $198,000 for couples, or having received a stimulus check earlier in the year. This order has been extended through July 31, 2021, which will be its final extension.

In addition to the federal and state relief programs described below, protections may exist in many places at the local government level in the form of city or county eviction or foreclosure moratorium laws.

How Can Gomez and Simone Help?

While landlords in many areas may be unaware of eviction bans that have taken effect, tenants may be able to halt or reverse wrongful eviction activities by informing their landlords of these protections. Tenants and homeowners who foresee difficulty with paying their rent or mortgage due to the coronavirus outbreak may be able to negotiate reduced or delayed payments with their landlords or lenders. If you are based in Los Angeles, call Gomez and Simone, APLC at (855) 439-0077, so we can expertly litigate unlawful detainer (evictions) and foreclosure cases. 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:

Presidential Announcement

Until July 31, 2021, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) (mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) extended their respective foreclosure moratorium for one, final month.

The Presidential Announcement notes that HUD, VA, and USDA will continue to allow homeowners who have not taken advantage of forbearance to date to enter into COVID-related forbearance through September 30, 2021, while homeowners with Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac-backed mortgages who have COVID-related hardships will also continue to be eligible for COVID-related forbearance.

The Presidential Announcement indicates that HUD, VA, and USDA will be announcing additional steps in July to offer borrowers payment reduction options that will enable more homeowners to stay in their homes.

  • USDA:  Beyond July 31, 2021, the USDA indicated that it would continue to support homeowners experiencing financial hardship due to the pandemic by making loss mitigation options available to help keep them in their homes.
  • Fannie Mae:  Until July 31, 2021, servicers may not, except with respect to a vacant or abandoned property: (1) initiate any judicial or non-judicial foreclosure process, (2) move for a foreclosure judgment or order of sale, or (3) execute a foreclosure sale.
  • Freddie Mac:  Until July 31, 2021, servicers may not initiate any judicial or non-judicial foreclosure process, motion for foreclosure judgment or order of sale. This foreclosure suspension does not apply to mortgages on properties that have been determined to be vacant or abandoned.

Finally, the Presidential Announcement suggests that additional guidance will be issued by the federal agencies permitting borrowers who have not yet taken advantage of a COVID-19 forbearance to do so through September 30, 2021, and announcing additional steps in July to offer borrowers additional payment reduction options to enable more homeowners to stay in their homes.

Mortgage forbearance for homeowners and landlords

Most homeowners can pause or reduce their mortgage payments for a limited time if they’re struggling because of COVID-19. This is called forbearance.You request forbearance from your mortgage servicer. Landlords with four properties or less can also request forbearance. Your deadline to request forbearance depends on who backs your mortgage.

  • HUD/FHA, USDA, or VA – the deadline for requesting an initial forbearance is September 30, 2021.
  • Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac – there currently is not a deadline for requesting an initial forbearance.

If your mortgage is not federally backed, your servicer may offer similar forbearance options. If you are struggling to make your mortgage payments, your servicer must discuss relief options with you.

Your rights if you’re denied forbearance

If your servicer denies your request for forbearance, they must provide you with:

  • A detailed description explaining why your request was denied, and
  • The specific reasons for the denial

This is true for all mortgages, whether federally-backed or not. If the explanation says your request has errors or is missing information, you have 21 days to correct these issues. If you requested forbearance, your lender cannot begin foreclosing on your home or property until they:

  1. Contact you to request payment;
  2. Wait at least 30 days after contacting you to request payment;
  3. File a declaration that they have contacted you to request payment; and
  4. File the forbearance denial notice

You can contest either the 30-day contact or the forbearance denial notice. If you believe your lender harmed you by violating the law, you can file a lawsuit against them. If you are based in Los Angeles, call Gomez and Simone, APLC at (855) 439-0077, so we can expertly litigate unlawful detainer (evictions) and wrongful foreclosure cases.