On June 28, 2021, California’s eviction moratorium extension, known as AB 832, was signed into law by Governor Newsom. AB 832 replaces SB 91 as the operative eviction moratorium legislation in California and affects landlords and tenants experiencing pandemic-related financial hardship.
The new legislation extends the existing broad eviction moratorium for most residential tenants who have been financially impacted by COVID-19 by three months – the June 30, 2021, end to the eviction moratorium provided for in SB 91 is now pushed to September 30, 2021.
Specifically, qualified tenants that fell behind on their rent have through September 30, 2021, to pay 25% of back rent accrued from September 1, 2020, to September 30, 2021. Landlords must provide their tenants a new written notice explaining this adjusted time frame by July 30, 2021.
A central feature of SB 91 was the creation of an unprecedented Rental Assistance Program. Landlords and low-income tenants that have suffered economic hardship from the pandemic have been able to apply to have the State pay up to 80% of unpaid back rent owed from April 1, 2020, through March 31, 2021, in exchange for the landlord agreeing to forgive the remaining 20% for that period.
This rent relief program has been expanded and made mandatory. Landlords will now receive 100% of back rent they are owed from qualified tenants, rather than 80%. Further, before an eviction for non-payment of rent can start, a landlord must first at least apply for rental assistance. In other words, if a tenant fails to pay 25% of back rent by October 1, 2021, and is therefore eligible for eviction for non-payment, the landlord must attach to their unlawful detainer complaint a statement, under penalty of perjury, that the landlord attempted to obtain rental assistance and was denied, as well as a copy of a final decision. This could become a significant obstacle for landlords attempting to file evictions for non-payment of rent in October, only to discover they failed to clear this new and potentially time-consuming hurdle.
Separately, Los Angeles County extended its own eviction moratorium until September 30, 2021. Unlike the State moratorium, the Los Angeles County moratorium covers certain commercial tenancies. It is critical that landlords keep up to date with their local County’s policies, which may be more restrictive than the State’s.
Other dates that were extended:
- The prohibition on selling or assigning unpaid pandemic-era rental debt has been extended to September 30, 2021.
- Additional civil penalties for a landlord attempting wrongful eviction by interrupting utilities are in effect until October 1, 2021.
- The COVID-19 Small Landlord and Homeowner Relief Act of 2020, requiring a mortgage servicer that denies a forbearance request to provide specified written notice to the borrower that sets forth the specific reason or reasons that forbearance was not provided, has been extended until December 1, 2021.
- Landlords will not be able to go to small claims court seeking unpaid back rent until November 1, 2021. The landlord must first apply for funding from the state rental assistance program before suing the tenant for back-rent.
- There is a cap on landlord attorney fees in any action to recover pandemic-era rental debt in effect until October 2025.
OMLO will continue to monitor these developments carefully. This article is for informational purposes only and only provides an overview of specific developments. It is not intended to be, and should not be construed as, legal advice for any particular fact situation. For actual legal advice and specifics pertaining to your governmental entity, please contact your OMLO attorney for assistance.