Tenants in San Diego County now have an additional stay on evictions and rent payments if they are in financial difficulty due to the pandemic.
Governor Gavin Newsom recently extended the moratorium on state evictions to September 30. It was due to expire on June 30. Now, many Californians will have more time to find housing and financial assistance to pay their rent.
San Diego County’s eviction ban is stricter than the state has put in place: landlords can’t evict tenants if they want to return to their homes, and evictions for “just” reasons are very limited. It also has a 4 percent rent cap for current tenants. It expires in August.
The county’s ban on eviction is being challenged in federal court, but the judge in charge of the case has not made a decision. The judge is expected to resume the case at the end of July.
Homeowner groups have criticized Newsom’s move, saying they have struggled to make ends meet as tenants live without rent. However, tenant advocacy groups and politicians say help is still needed for the unemployed, and this will give municipalities more time to distribute rent relief funds.
“This extension is essential to ensure that more people don’t lose the safety net that helps them keep their homes,” Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) said in a statement. “While our state may be emerging from the pandemic, in many ways the lingering financial impact still weighs heavily on California families.”
Under the county’s eviction ban, tenants facing financial hardship were protected from eviction and rent payments until August 14. With Newsom’s move, they are now safe until September 30.
However, there was a caveat attached to extending the state: tenants who do not intend to pay must submit a statement to their landlord stating that they are unable to pay the rent (here is an example of a form: https://housing.ca.gov/covid_rr/covid19_financial_distress_form.pdf) and must pay 25% of the rent that would be due from September 1, 2020 to the end of June 2021.
For example, if your rent for this period is $ 4,000, you will have to pay at least $ 1,000. If payment is not made, state law says that a landlord can evict you. Nonetheless, owners must give 15 days’ notice if they intend to evict, so it won’t be as if you ever show up to your apartment and the door is locked.
the the law says tenants should have paid the 25 percent by June 30. However, the law also states that a landlord must first provide a 15-day notice of eviction (whenever it could happen in the next three months) and tenants can pay the 25 percent then to avoid the eviction. ‘expulsion.
There is a patchwork of rent relief programs in San Diego County that should be able to cover any overdue rent (the links to the apps are at the bottom of this article) and even up to three months of rent. future rent.
Newsom’s eviction ban included a provision that 100% of the rent could be covered. Previously, a tenant could only be paid 80% if their landlord forgives them 20%. In addition, the future rent was only 25 percent, but now everything will be covered.
To apply, tenants will be asked to create a password, enter landlord and address details, upload documents related to lost income (such as W2 forms or medical bills related to COVID -19) and check the amount of the rent. months to come or rent in arrears.
Trying to evict a tenant in San Diego County than it is in other parts of the state is a bit more complicated because of the measures adopted by the Supervisory Board in May.
Under the county ordinance approved in May, two loopholes used to previously evict tenants have been closed.
First, owners who rent their own property and wish to return cannot. The same goes for trying to remove a tenant to rehabilitate a property. Second, a tenant cannot be evicted for “just” reasons, such as simple lease violations.
The Southern California Rental Housing Association is suing the county. But, assuming that leads nowhere, homeowners might find themselves able to fire a tenant if they wish to move back into their home in mid-August, when county law expires – 1.5 months before the end of the year. expiry of the state’s ban on expulsion. . State law does not prevent an owner from relocating.
A big benefit for landlords according to Newsom’s statement will be that 100% of the rent owed by a tenant can be paid under rent relief programs. Additionally, they can initiate the process if a tenant is unresponsive or has not started the process itself.
This is a significant change, as landlords could previously only get 80% of the rent owed. This led to a small number of them not participating and planning to take the tenants to small claims court to get the full amount.
The Southern California Rental Housing Association sued the county’s eviction ban in federal court, arguing it violated property rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, among other complaints.
He sought a preliminary injunction to stop the law in its tracks before his court date. The judge in charge of the case has not yet ruled on the injunction. Anyway, it will be heard on July 19 in court where both parties can make their points.
The association’s legal action targets the part of the eviction ban that does not allow landlords to evict tenants if they wish to return and the blocking of evictions for “just” reasons, such as lease violations.
In its lawsuit, the Rental Housing Association – which primarily represents landlords in San Diego County – said the evictions law deprived landlords of the right to use property protected by the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. He also argued that removing the “just cause” provision put landlords at risk of illegal conduct on properties, and supervisors moved outside his jurisdiction to unincorporated areas to cover the entire area. county.
San Diego County and the tenant advocacy group Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment Action have filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit.
Lawyers for the county and the alliance said the association’s trial was similar to challenges across the country which argued that COVID-19 programs violate the U.S. Constitution and have not all made it to court. They also argued that there was over a century of Supreme Court precedent that allowed county governments to suspend a landlord’s right to repossess a tenant’s property.
San Diego County also argued that its law was designed to reduce the spread of the virus by preventing people from leaving their homes, which the governor cited in his initial state of emergency statement in March 2020. He said it was within his legal right to pass emergency laws for the entire county, instead of just unincorporated areas.
Regarding the constitutional arguments, the county argued that the Fifth Amendment does not stop the taking of property, only prohibiting taking it without fair compensation. Additionally, he said legal precedent showed the county action was not taking the property.
The association filed a response to the county and the alliance saying the constitutional arguments were flawed because the law favors one group, tenants, over landlords. He cited a Supreme Court case in late June in which the court ruled that it was unconstitutional to allow union organizers to use members’ properties to apply for union membership on a California farm. The bottom line is that the union violated the Fifth Amendment by “taking” private property.
The court said that even a temporary takeover resulted in an “per se” appropriation of the property and violated the US Constitution. The ruling is seen as important to the association’s case because it may strengthen arguments that San Diego County is taking property from homeowners by temporarily not allowing them to return to homes.
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How to Apply for Rent Relief Programs
San Diego: (619) 535-6921 / https://www.sdhc.org/housing-opportunities/help-with-your-rent/covid-19-rental-assistance/
Chula Vista: (619) 271-1805 / https://www.chulavistaca.gov/departments/development-services/housing/assistance-during-covid-19/rentalandutility
San Diego County: (858) 694-4801 / https://www.sandiegocounty.gov/sdhcd/community-development/COVID-19-Emergency-Rental-Assistance-Program.html