California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill protecting millions of tenants and property owners who have been impacted by COVID-19 from evictions and foreclosures, as announced Monday in a press release from the governor’s office.
The law, titled the Tenant, Homeowner, and Small Landlord Relief and Stabilization Act of 2020, prohibits the eviction of tenants who cannot pay all or part of their rent because of hardship from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the press release. Under the legislation, tenants are protected from eviction until Feb. 1, 2021 for rent accumulated between March 4 and Aug. 31 if they can prove a declaration of hardship.
“COVID-19 has impacted everyone in California – but some bear much more of the burden than others, especially tenants struggling to stitch together the monthly rent, and they deserve protection from eviction,” Newsom said in the press release. “California is stepping up to protect those most at-risk because of COVID-related nonpayment, but it’s just a bridge to a more permanent solution.”
Under the new law, tenants who experience COVID-19 related financial hardship between Sept. 1 and Jan. 31, 2021 are still responsible for at least 25% of their rent in order to avoid eviction.
Tenants are still responsible for unpaid amounts to their landlord, but those amounts cannot be used as the basis for eviction, according to the press release. Landlords who fail to adhere to these rules will face penalties under the new law.
Beginning March 1, 2021, landlords will be allowed to recover the unpaid rent they are owed from their tenants, according to the press release.
The legislation provides additional legal and financial protections for tenants, including extending rent nonpayment notices from three to 15 days, requiring landlords to provide tenants with a notice of their new rights guaranteed by this law and protecting tenants from “just cause” eviction if the landlord is shown to be evicting a tenant due to COVID-19 related rent nonpayment.
Under the new law, existing local ordinances pertaining to tenants are allowed to remain in place until they expire, the press release states. Future ordinances, however, will not be allowed to undermine the act.
“While today’s new laws are necessary, more must be done – and this means the Congress and the President stepping into their rightful role as provider of a meaningful renter relief package as part of the next stimulus,” said Carol Galante, faculty director of the campus Terner Center for Housing Innovation, in the press release. “California deserves credit for acting, and now we must demand the Federal government follow suit.”