California extends eviction moratorium, support for landlords and tenants

A for rent sign in Hillcrest
Posted at 1:08 PM, Jul 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-01 21:55:19-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — California businesses may be back open, but many people still don't have jobs.

If people don't have jobs, they can't pay their rent, and in turn, landlords don't have money to pay their bills.

The state, counties, and cities have each been through different iterations of eviction moratoriums and rent relief programs in the past year to help bridge that gap.

The most recent help came last week.

Just as time was about to run out on the state's efforts, lawmakers cut a deal to extend California's eviction moratorium and rent relief.

"Anybody that's been impacted by COVID, that owes rent going back to last April, not just this April but last April we will pay 100 percent of that rent," said California Governor Gavin Newsom. "We'll also pay that rent 100 percent of it going forward through September."

According to the National Equity Atlas (NEA) rent debt dashboard, about 758,000 households in the state are behind on rent. The NEA's research states that equals about $3.5 billion. The estimated rent debt per household is $4,700.

"The bottom line is this is to support struggling Californians," said Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins. "Whether they be small mom-and-pop landlords, which is the percentage of landlords, or tenants who are struggling and want to make sure they've got some stability."

Atkins was instrumental in getting the rent relief program done.

The deal allows the state to increase cash assistance to low-income tenants and small landlords under the state's $5.2 billion rent relief program.

According to a press release from Newsom's office, "In an agreement forged between the Governor, the Senate and the Assembly, AB 832 increases the value of the reimbursement the state's emergency rental assistance program provides to now cover 100 percent of past-due and prospective rent payments, as well as utility bills for income-qualified tenants. AB 832 also allows tenants to access rental funds directly if their landlord chooses not to participate and ensures landlords can receive compensation even if their otherwise income-qualified tenants have already vacated a unit."

"I think there may still be people that don't know they are eligible for this and that there are protections in place for both the landlord and the tenant," Atkins said.

While the deal will help some struggling renters and landlords, for some landlords, an extension is not what they were looking for.

"Many landlords have not received any rent since March of last year," said Debra Carlton with the California Apartment Association.

Carlton said most landlords have five units or less, meaning non-payments could impact their ability to stay financially afloat.

She explained that in some cases, landlords have dealt with tenants who could pay and didn't, taking advantage of the situation.

"At least we'll get that 100 percent for them, and we're hoping that they're not facing one of these tenants who just skirted the system because those mom-and-pops can't balance that with tenants that are not,” Carlton said.

Under Assembly Bill 832, the state's ban on evictions will be extended through Sept. 30. It had been slated to end on June 30.