State extends eviction moratorium, creates $2.6B rent subsidy program

Landlords with low-income tenants have guaranteed 25% rent paid by Califorina, but can seek up to 80%

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, Gov. Gavin Newsom and Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (Getty)
Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, Gov. Gavin Newsom and Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (Getty)

California’s statewide eviction moratorium has been extended through June, a move that came days before those protections were set to expire.

Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders confirmed the deal, which would also create a federally funded $2.6 billion rent subsidy program, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Tenant advocates argued the bill doesn’t go far enough, but was a necessary compromise before the moratorium expires on Jan. 31.

State Sen. Scott Wiener was among those who sought more protections for tenants, but said the extension had to pass “to avoid mass evictions.”

In L.A., renters are also protected by a county-level eviction moratorium that has been periodically renewed. It is currently set to expire at the end of February.

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The state eviction moratorium remains largely unchanged from the law passed in late summer — also at the last minute — which remains in effect.

Tenants financially affected by the pandemic cannot be evicted if they pay at least 25 percent of their rent either monthly or in a lump sum by June 30, according to the measure. Those tenants are still on the hook for unpaid rent, however. That rent is converted to consumer debt. Landlords cannot use that unpaid debt as grounds for eviction, but can seek that money in court.

The rent subsidy program is voluntary for landlords, and eligible only for renters who qualify as low income tenants.

Landlords can get 80 percent of back rent accrued between April 2020 and March 2021, but must forgive the remaining 20 percent and agree to not evict that tenant. If they don’t want to forgive back rent, they can still receive 25 percent of rent accrued during that period.

A November projection estimated that by the end of 2020, renters statewide would owe their landlords $1.7 billion. [LAT] — Dennis Lynch