State bans evictions of pandemic-hit renters through January

Tenants who lost income will have back rent converted into consumer debt

Governor Gavin Newsom (Credit: Anda Chu/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images)
Governor Gavin Newsom (Credit: Anda Chu/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images)

California lawmakers enacted a stopgap eviction moratorium on Monday in the last two hours of their two-year legislative session.

The measure bars evictions until Feb. 1 for renters who have lost income because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the bill Monday and it took effect immediately, according to the Wall Street Journal. The state’s previous stopgap moratorium was set to expire Wednesday.

The law converts back rent owed by eligible renters from March 1 through Aug. 31 into consumer debt and prevents landlords from using it to evict them.

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Moving forward, tenants have to pay 25 percent of their total rent due between Sept. 1 and Jan. 31. Whatever is left over is also converted into consumer debt. Landlords can pursue that debt in small claims court starting in March.

Evictions have been on hold per the state’s Judicial Council since the pandemic began. The council ordered California courts to refrain from processing orders related to commercial and residential evictions and foreclosures.

The council signaled in August that it would not extend the order beyond Wednesday, arguing that the state’s legislative and executive branches should address the issue.
Meanwhile, a bill that would have allowed duplexes to be developed on single-family properties statewide died when the legislative session ended before the Senate could vote on it, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Senate Bill 1120 was a spiritual successor to a series of state bills proposed over the last several years to encourage more dense development to alleviate California’s housing shortage. [WSJ]Dennis Lynch