The following is a brief summary of the Rent Relief Law signed Aug. 31 by Gov. Gavin Newsom. It coincides with the eviction moratorium announced by President Donald Trump on Sept. 1.
California Tenant Relief Act:
When a tenant has not paid rent for any period between March 1, 2020, and Jan. 31, 2021, the COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act of 2020 (“Rent Relief Law”) will allow most residential tenants to remain in the rental property through January of 2021 as long as the tenant makes a declaration under penalty of perjury that they are unable to pay their rent or meet other financial obligations because of circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
For rent that comes due between Sept. 1, 2020, and Jan. 31, 2021, the tenant is responsible for paying at least 25%. However, that amount need only be paid by Jan. 31, 2021. Otherwise, the tenant would be at risk of being evicted for non-payment of rent through an unlawful detainer process, but not before February 1, 2021. After Jan. 31, and with the exception of the 25% of rent owed from September through January, the landlord will not be able to base an unlawful detainer action on a demand for payment of rent that came due during any time between March 1, 2020, and Jan. 31, 2021.
Rent Is Still Owed
However, the balance of the unpaid rent is still owed. The Rent Relief Law permits a claim for the unpaid rent to be brought in small claims court, beginning March 1, 2021, even if the amount at issue would otherwise be more than the small claims court limits.
The Rent Relief Law temporarily requires all residential landlords in California to comply with the just cause eviction procedures of The Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (AB 1482) in order to find a tenant guilty of unlawful detainer on or after March 1, 2020 and before Feb. 1, 2021. This is the case, even when the property would otherwise be exempt under AB 1482. However, an owner of a single-family property or condo can terminate a tenancy when they are in contract to sell the property to a buyer who will take occupancy.
The COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act of 2020 was part of Assembly Bill 3088 (AB 3088) which additionally includes an expansion of the Homeowner Bill of Rights. The expansion brings small landlords within its protections.
Lastly, included within AB 3088 is a requirement that loan servicers must follow federal guidance regarding the granting of a loan forbearance. Failure to do so violates California law giving rise to various state law remedies such as injunctions, claims for damage and restitution, and attorney fees.
Source: CVAR and C.A.R.