Eviction protections for renters in California expire in just less than two months, but state lawmakers are looking for an extension through the end of December 2021, as well as creating a program to help landlords.
The current state law, which replaced protections for tenants after Los Angeles County’s own moratorium expired on Oct. 1, shields renters for nonpayment of rent due to COVID-19-related financial hardships through Jan. 31 as long as 25% of their rent is paid.
Introduced on Monday by Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco, Assembly Bill 15 would extend protections through Dec. 31 of next year, and Assembly Bill 16 would offer financial support for small landlords and affordable housing providers should AB 15 become law.
“In order to ensure a just recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is therefore necessary to invest public funds to stabilize renters, small landlords, and affordable housing providers,” read the proposal, which does not specify how much rental relief would be offered. “Such funds must be accompanied by policies that address the factors displacing tenants from their homes and communities, which create additional risk of exposure, threaten public health, and threaten to delay recovery if not addressed.”
“Allowing these protections to expire Feb. 1 could lead to a wave of evictions and an increase in COVID cases,” said Chiu in a prepared statement.
The proposals come as an estimated 240,000 California households could face eviction following expired protections after falling behind in rent that collectively amounts to $1.67 billion, according to an October study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia on household rental debt during the pandemic.
Those protections are the focus of lawsuits against Santa Clarita and the county, as well as the state and other Southern California cities, which were brought forth by a group of landlords seeking to overturn local and state measures that have banned evictions.
The attorneys for both sides in the local eviction-ban lawsuit are scheduled to meet early- to mid-January to discuss the status of the case, according to attorney Steven Zelig, who represents a group of apartment owners and lessors.
Republican Assemblywoman Suzette Valladares, whose 38th District includes most of the Santa Clarita Valley, said Thursday a resolution of issues related to California’s Employment Development Department would have helped avoid much of the pending evictions.
“I am deeply concerned about the economic instability that families and workers all over California are feeling right now,” she said via email. “These pending evictions wouldn’t have reached crisis levels if we had a functional EDD that served the people. Unfortunately, EDD is riddled with fraud, and its unacceptable backlog is still increasing due to a lack of oversight.”
Efforts to extend the eviction ban come amid a surge in COVID-19 figures across California and the nation, with Los Angeles County breaking records in cases, hospitalizations and deaths more frequently.
“As we approach the winter months and ensuing cooler temperatures, it will become critically important to continue protections that can keep residents in their homes and off the streets,” read a motion by county Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Hilda Solis.
In Santa Clarita, the residential and commercial eviction moratorium was established on March 31 and expired on Aug. 31 after council members voted 3-2 in allowing the local eviction ban to expire and be covered under the county’s own moratorium. L.A. County’s anti-eviction order expired on Oct. 1, but was replaced by California AB 3088, the one set to expire at the end of January.
The county Board of Supervisors was expected Tuesday to discuss possibly reinstating protections from evictions on Feb. 1 and issue clarifications on prohibitions on harassment or intimidation of residential and mobile home space renters for nonpayment related COVID-19 challenges.
The matter was tabled Tuesday and is expected to return at a future meeting.