Coronavirus: Renter’s Relief in California

Family-Finances-Applying for rent relief-no-eviction

The economic fallout of coronavirus is affecting tens of millions of Americans. In addition to those who have become ill with the virus, many have lost jobs, closed their businesses, and therefore struggling to pay rent.

There are over 40 million renters and 30 million small business owners affected in the U.S., according to The Washington Post. In Los Angeles, renters spend half their income on housing.

Both residential and commercial renters are affected. Fortunately, the city of Los Angeles has created protections against evictions, as announced by Mayor Eric Garcetti on March 15. A city ordinance now protects residents against evictions if they can’t pay rent due to economic hardship or health reasons.

BREAKING NEWS: Sacramento

The California Judicial Council has announced a statewide emergency order that suspends evictions, which went into effect Monday night (April 6, 2020). Residential evictions are now banned with few exceptions. Also, evictions scheduled for court this month are delayed by at least 60 days. The Judicial Council also halts foreclosures during the emergency, also giving property owners 90 days from after the emergency order ends before a court can take action (if owners respond to a mortgage lender’s court filing).

What Is the Los Angeles Renter’s Moratorium?

The moratorium prohibits landlords from evicting residential tenants who cannot pay rent due to a loss of work, healthcare costs, or expenses related to childcare in the wake of school closures. Expenditures related to COVID-19 are factored in as well. The ordinance also:

  • Halts evictions of renters who house additional family members/occupants due to effects of the virus.
  • Covers tenants facing eviction for a loud child or other nuisance reasons.
  • Protects against “no-fault” evictions, such as when a landlord decides to reserve a unit for a family member or tear down the building.
  • Halts evictions under the California Ellis Act for two months after then end of the “local emergency period”.
  • Pauses rent increases in rent-stabilized units.

What Do I Do if I Can’t Pay Rent?

Notify your landlord as soon as possible. Document your loss of income/employment, medical bills, emails, and letters; anything that shows how COVID-19 has affected you. There’s no national law requiring landlords to offer rent relief, but there has been an executive order released by California Governor Gavin Newsom.

The Attorney General alerts all tenants of the following aspects of the Governor’s executive order:

  • If you cannot pay all of your rent, you must notify your landlord in writing right away and no later than seven days after the rent is due.
  • Local measures may offer additional protection, since they remain in effect following the Governor’s order. Research local eviction moratoriums that may apply in your area.

Here’s the recommended form to fill out as provided by the State of California in reference to the Governor’s Executive Order.

What Do I Do If I Have Received an Eviction Notice?

An eviction notice is part of the legal process for evictions. If you receive one, file a complaint with the Los Angeles Housing and Community Investment Department (HCID), which conducts eviction investigations. If your non-payment is related to COVID-19, a housing inspector will send your landlord a letter requesting cancellation of the notice.

What If My Landlord Keeps Proceeding with the Eviction?

According to the housing department, you should stay in your home; if you have documentation, the department will use it to defend you in court. It can also provide referrals to legal professionals.

How Do I Prove Loss of Income Due to COVID-19?

If an employer terminated you or reduced your work hours, paycheck stubs or bank statements can document your loss of income. The city doesn’t require specific types of documentation. But the more information you have, the easier it is to prove your case.

Do I Have to Pay Back Missed Rent?

In Los Angeles, missed rent payments must be repaid within 12 months. You can repay your landlord during the repayment period set by the housing department or make arrangements with your landlord when the local emergency ends. Landlords cannot legally charge late fees.

Where Can I Go for Eviction Help?

An eviction can be delayed through May 31. If you’re facing an eviction, whether related to the coronavirus global pandemic or not, contact the HCID at 866-557-7368 or online (https://hcidla.lacity.org/ask-hcidla). You can also call, email, or text a local tenant advocacy group.

Will There Be Additional Help Coming?

Commercial evictions related to COVID-19 are being halted as well. The city is giving commercial tenants three months to repay missed rent. Also, state legislators are working to ban evictions and foreclosures for commercial and residential property owners.

What Are Other Areas Doing?

  • State: California Governor Gavin Newsom announced statewide protections requiring tenants to inform landlords a week in advance about non-payments of rent. These protections are in effect through May 31.
  • Los Angeles County: Anti-eviction measures for residential and commercial evictions, except for those related to health and safety, are in place for unincorporated communities through May 31.
  • Long Beach: Has implemented eviction protections for renters, retroactive to March 4, if tenants can prove coronavirus has impacted their income. The protections expire May 31 while tenants can pay back rent without late charges until November 30.
  • Burbank: Similar rules are in place for residential/commercial evictions; currently, its ban is in effect through April 30.

Contact OakTree Law for Help

At OakTree Law, we are experienced in real estate law. If you have received an eviction notice and are struggling to pay rent due to a loss of income or financial hardship related to COVID-19, our attorneys can help. Call 562-219-2979 for a free evaluation.