Written by Carol Ann Glover
Back in March 2020, Governor Newsom issued an executive order for a temporary moratorium on residential evictions where a tenant’s inability to pay rent is because of coronavirus-related loss of work or income or inability to work either because of loss of childcare or because of a suspected or confirmed case of coronavirus in the tenant’s household.
Due to the significant impact that COVID-19 has had on tenants and landlords, on August 31st Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill 3088 - the Tenant, Homeowner, and Small Landlord Relief and Stabilization Act of 2020. AB 3088 extends eviction protections for residential tenants (including mobile home tenants) experiencing a financial hardship relating to COVID-19. More on commercial tenants later in this article.
Under AB 3088, the following are in effect at the State Level:
- Residential tenants cannot be evicted for failure to pay rent due to a COVID-19-related hardship occurring between March 1 and Aug. 31, 2020, provided that the tenant provides a written declaration of hardship to the landlord.
- For those residential tenants experiencing a “new” COVID-19-related hardship between Sept. 1, 2020 and Jan. 31, 2021, they are also protected from eviction, so long as they pay at least 25% of the rent due during this period.
- Tenants with a household income of at least $100,000 per year (or 130% of the median household income) may be asked to submit additional documentation, in addition to providing a written declaration of hardship.
- A landlord cannot evict a residential tenant for nonpayment of rent due between March 4, 2020 through Jan. 31, 2021 or unpaid COVID-19-related rent. However, all rent from March 4, 2020 through Jan. 31, 2021 is still owed by all residential tenants, and must eventually be paid back.
- Landlords are permitted to start recovering unpaid rent beginning March 1, 2021. AB 3088 also expands the jurisdiction of the small claims court to allow landlords to file claims for unpaid rent related to COVID-19, regardless of the amount owed, until Feb. 1, 2025.
Local Ordinance and the State
AB 3088 aims to create uniformity throughout the State as it relates to rent relief. However, existing local city and/or County ordinances may remain in place. Going forward, any future local ordinance must be consistent with provisions of AB 3088 and comply with the repayment schedule as noted in AB 3088. So, if the local ordinance was in effect and required a repayment period to begin after March 1, 2021, or specified commencement of the repayment period on the end of the state of emergency or local emergency, the Act now deems that repayment period to begin on March 1, 2021 and requires such period to be complete by March 31, 2022.
What does AB 3088 Mean for Residential Tenants?
Residential tenants are required to provide hardship declaration forms (stating their financial hardship due to COVID-19) to their landlord within 15 days of receiving the form from their landlord. Landlords are required to provide these forms to their tenants.
Residential tenants will be protected from eviction as long as the tenant follows the procedures of the AB 3088, including making 25% minimum rent payments. AB 3088 extends the notice period for nonpayment of rent from 3 days to 15 days, so residential tenants now have additional time to pay rent.
As of October 5, 2020, California courts can enforce unlawful detainers for reasons other than nonpayment of COVID-19-related rent (i.e., property damage, creating a nuisance, violating other terms unrelated to payments). Tenants must comply with all lease terms as well as comply with the terms of AB 3088 t to avoid eviction.
What does AB 3088 Mean for Landlords?
Landlords are required to provide hardship declaration forms in the same language as the lease and inform their residential tenants of their rights under AB 3088. Modifying existing leases and/or taking action against tenants for nonpayment of rent due to COVD-19 is prohibited. Under AB 3088, there are strict penalties for landlords who try to evict tenants by means of locking out tenants, utility shut off or property removal. Penalties for landlords that engage in these activities can be up to $2500.
If filing an unlawful detainer action, landlords are required to file a cover sheet to indicate whether the property in question is residential or commercial and, if the property is residential, whether the action is based on nonpayment of rent or other charges.
AB 3088 precludes issuing a summons for unlawful detainer or entering default judgment in an unlawful detainer action before October 5, 2020. Thereafter, landlords filing an unlawful detainer action are required to file a cover sheet indicating whether the property is residential or commercial. If residential, the cover sheet needs to specify whether the action is based on nonpayment of rent or other charges.
What about Commercial Properties?
AB 3088 explicitly excludes commercial property tenants from its definition of “tenant.” Therefore, since commercial properties are not included under AB 3088 commercial tenants do not receive the same statewide eviction protections provided to residential tenants. Landlords of commercial properties may file unlawful detainer actions against their commercial tenant under AB 3088, as long as the property is not located in a city or county that has its own eviction moratorium that extends to commercial tenants.
Some local ordinances have extended eviction protections to commercial tenants, but many have either expired or have a shorter effective period than AB 3088.
It is advisable for both commercial tenants and landlords to work with legal advisors to ensure the best outcome since local ordinances vary and may not be in sync with statewide parameters. Ideally, tenants and landlords should communicate and come to mutually agreeable terms for any rent concessions, deferral or reductions to avoid eviction and an opportunity for the tenant to pay back rent owed to the landlord despite business disruption during COVID-19.
What is the LA County Temporary Eviction Moratorium?
Effective March 4, 2020 to September 30, 2020, LA County has implemented a Countywide ban on evictions for residential and commercial tenants, including mobile home space renters. During the moratorium, tenants may not be evicted for COVID 19 related non-payment of rent, as well as no fault reasons, nuisance, unauthorized occupants or pets, if related to COVID-19.
How does the LA County Temporary Eviction Moratorium Work?
Tenants must notify their landlord within 7 days after their rent is due, unless extenuating circumstances exist, that they are unable to pay due to a loss of income related to COVID-19. Tenants will have twelve (12) months following the end of the moratorium period to pay back any amount due. LA County has provided a self-certification template for tenants (residential and commercial) to provide landlords with notice of inability to pay rent due to COVID-19.
How long with the LA County Temporary Moratorium Last?The temporary moratorium is effective from March 4, 2020 through September 30, 2020, and may be extended by the Board of Supervisors on a month-to-month basis.
By Carol Ann Glover, Attorney and Real Estate Agent
Carol Ann Glover, an attorney for more than 20 years, has broad experience in all areas of California real estate law. Her real estate practice focuses on real estate purchase and sales transactions, commercial leases, property management, escrow and title advisory, development, asset organization and restructuring, construction and architect contracts, landlord/tenant issues, loan workouts, and litigation related to these areas.
You can contact Carol at firstname.lastname@example.org or vist Chase Law Group's website for more information on their services.