With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing everyone to tighten their proverbial purse strings, landlords are unlikely to get much of a reprieve as a result of Assembly Bill 3088 according to one local attorney. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed AB 3088, known as the COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act of 2020, into law on Aug. 31, giving residential tenants a slate of new protections from evictions.
The new law allows the state to delay the anticipated resumption of the eviction process by California courts, which is bad news for landlords, according to attorney Aviv Tuchman. Under AB 3088, to receive further protection from evictions, tenants impacted by COVID-19 will be responsible for at least 25% of the rent due from Sept. 1 to Jan. 31, 2021. Those unable to meet that 25% minimum will now be protected from evictions until Feb. 1, 2021.
“It’s shifting the burden unfairly to landlords. And it’s shifting it to the point where landlords, particularly mom-and-pop landlords, are subsidizing tenants without having the commiserate relief from the government,” he said.
The Los Angeles attorney, founder of Tuchman & Associates on Pico Boulevard, represents several landlords who own high-end residences in Beverly Hills. He said that he is aware of multiple houses where the rent exceeds $35,000 a month and tenants are “taking advantage of this and they are not paying the rent … and they have the means to pay the rent.” Tuchman faults the eviction moratorium for attempting to be a “one size fits all” solution, which he said has made it possible for tenants to forgo rent payments since March without the threat of being evicted by landlords, provided certain requirements are met.
While property tax, mortgage payments and insurance may be due for landlords, the recent Assembly bill does not protect landlords against foreclosure or require banks to provide them forbearance.
“The longer the time is to forebear, the less likely you’ll be able to recover,” Tuchman predicted.
The act allows evictions for unpaid rent not related to the pandemic to proceed beginning Oct. 5. In addition, AB 3088 changes the statutory notice that tenants must give landlords about their inability to rent from three days to 15 days, a five-fold increase which Tuchman characterized as “unreasonable when it comes to the payment of rent and managing real estate.” Given that many single family dwellings are an “extra house” for people, he characterized the moratorium as an “extra burden.”
Tuchman underscored that tenants still face exposure to a lawsuit for unpaid rent given that the eviction moratorium does not mean rent forgiveness. The act converts the unpaid rent to consumer debt, which would be collectible in small claims court as of March 1, 2021.
Across the county, cities are taking active rent relief measures to ensure tenants can maintain their occupancy. From mandating that tenants and landlords have a conversation in an attempt to come to an arrangement such as in Beverly Hills, to city-funded assistance programs such as in West Hollywood, municipalities are trying to help both landlords and tenants work out fair deals.
At the upcoming Beverly Hills City Council meeting on Sept. 15, the council is expected to move forward in creating a $1 million program to subsidize tenants and landlords unable to pay rent due to circumstances related to COVID-19, similar to the $100 million rent relief fund the county launched last month. City Attorney Larry Wiener said AB 3088 changes the amount of time Beverly Hills residents are allowed to repay forborne between March 1 and Jan. 31, 2021 until March 31, 2022.
“The city’s program for renter relief is on Tuesday evening’s agenda,” Wiener confirmed via email. “At that point the City Council will be making some determinations regarding the structure of the program and the amount of money to be dedicated.”
Both Beverly Hills and West Hollywood are renter-majority cities, and the actions of city leaders have the opportunity to help private landlords who depend on income derived from their properties.
West Hollywood Rent Stabilization Director Pete Noonan said that in the wake of the pandemic, the city expeditiously worked to expand its rental-assistance program. According to Public Information Officer Sheri Lunn, since March 16, the city’s social services partners have received 1,144 requests from members of the community reaching out for rental assistance and have approved 941 grants, in the amount of $907,397.
“Members of the community continue reaching out to the city for rental assistance,” she said.
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.