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Written by Edward Smith
The first steps to extending the eviction moratorium were taken over the weekend as California legislators introduced a bill to keep landlords from evicting tenants for Covid-related reasons until Sept. 30. In addition to extending the moratorium, the bill increases compensation to 100% of back rent, up from 80% under previous legislation. And while the increases mean more money to landlords, their advocates say that if the process was more expedited, eviction moratorium extensions would be unnecessary.
Conversely, tenant advocates say three months is not enough to disburse the money needed to tenants.
Assembly Bill 832 is headed to the floor of the assembly after passing out of the Judiciary Committee Monday. The bill would adapt the previous bill, SB 91, which set the most recent eviction moratorium. in order to be protected, renters would still have to file hardship paperwork showing that they were affected financially by the pandemic. Renters would still have to pay 25% of back rent, but that would be extended to Sept. 30 as well, according to the California Apartment Association.
For landlords trying to evict tenants after Sept. 30, they would have to demonstrate that they applied to receive Covid relief funds at least 20 days prior sending the notice to a tenant.
The Centers for Disease Control recently extended the eviction moratorium to July 31.
“We are disappointed that the CDC extended a nationwide eviction moratorium through July, and the state of California has extended an eviction moratorium through September,” said Tom Bannon, CEO of the California Apartment Association in a statement. “Both the federal and state eviction moratoriums would not be necessary if state and local governments were disbursing rental assistance funds to tenants and housing providers in an expedited manner.”
As of last week, $61.6 million in rental relief has been distributed of a requested $716.4 million, according to the California Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency. This money does not include rental relief programs overseen by local governments. The City of Fresno oversees its own rental relief disbursement. Madera, Kings and Tulare counties have their programs overseen by BCSH.
Advocates for tenants echoed those sentiments as well. “How is three months enough time to distribute billions in rent aid, when the state has only paid out 8% of the current $619 million in requests in that same time period? This timeline does not match the reality the state faces and tenants will be left out to dry,” said Francisco Dueñas, executive director of Housing Now!.
AB 832 is marked as urgent and would go into effect as soon as it is approved by the California State Senate and signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom.