Evictions Under the COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act
Under AB 3088, tenants cannot be evicted for nonpayment due to COVID-19 related hardship between March 1 – August 31, 2020 given that the tenant provides a declaration of hardship within 3 days of receiving a notice to pay or quit. This has now been extended from September 1, 2020 – January 31, 2021, with an amendment; during this time period tenants cannot be evicted for nonpayment due to COVID-19 related hardship if the tenant returns a declaration of hardship within 15 days of receiving a notice to pay or quit. However, tenants must pay 25% of the missed rents for that period by January 31, 2021.
Although tenants cannot be evicted for nonpayment due to hardship, tenants can be evicted beginning October 5, 2020 if they fail to return COVID-19 related hardship declaration to the landlord, but it prevents landlords from evicting tenants for a reason other than nonpayment in retaliation for nonpayment. Eviction cases for just causes other than nonpayment can begin September 2, 2020, and eviction cases for nonpayment (unrelated to COVID-19 hardship) can begin October 5, 2020.
Tenants Still Responsible for Paying Unpaid Amounts to Landlords
As stated above, if the tenant complies with payment of 25% of missed rents between September 1, 2020 – January 31, 2021, any remaining debt is not a ground/basis for eviction but is still owed to the landlord as a form of consumer debt. As a result, small claims court jurisdiction is temporarily expanded to allow landlords to recover these amounts and may begin to do so on March 1, 2021.
Statewide Consistency and a Pause on Local Measures
Under AB 3088, local ordinances remain in place until they expire, and local action that occurs after August 19, 2020, cannot take effect before February 1, 2021. However, nothing in the Act affects a local jurisdiction’s ability to adopt an ordinance that requires just cause provided it does not affect payments due between March 1, 2020, and January 31, 2021. In addition, if an ordinance establishes a time period for repayment, that repayment period must begin (for unpaid rent due between March 1, 2020, and January 31, 2021) on March 1, 2021, unless the ordinance specifies an earlier date.
Other Protections for Tenants
AB 3088 changes the 3-day notice to pay or quit into a 15-day notice to pay or provide a signed declaration of financial hardship form. Landlords must provide hardship declaration forms in a different language if the rental agreement was negotiated in a different language and provide tenants with a notice explaining their rights under the Act. AB 3088 also provides a backstop in eviction cases if they have a good reason for failing to return hardship declaration within 15 days. Judgments for eviction in nonpayment of rent cases filed between March 4, 2020 – January 31, 2021, are subject to masking and are not publicly available, regardless of the outcome, until February 1, 2021.
Penalties on Landlords Who Do Not Follow Court Eviction Process
AB 3088 adds a new penalty between $1,000 – $2,500 against landlords who resort to self-help (i.e., locking out the tenant, throwing personal property out onto the curb, shutting off utilities) to evict a tenant, rather than going through the required court process.
Protection for Small Landlords
If a landlord is an individual, and tenant moved in prior to March 4, 2020 and fails to pay rent due to loss of income, the Homeowner’s Bill of Rights’ anti-foreclosure then becomes extended to small landlords (1-4 units, non-owner occupied). Protection also provides accountability and transparency provisions to protect small landlord borrowers who request CARES – compliant forbearance; authorizes a borrower who is materially harmed to file lawsuit.
Our property management division, Equitypro Management, works diligently to keep our clients knowledgeable and in compliance with local and state regulations. Contact us to find out how we can help you.
September 3, 2020 | Source: caanet.org/ab3088/